WebMD article indicates that approximately 1 in 4 people are not able to be hypnotized
I am a Certified Hypnocounselor who has been practicing since 2005. I have read the commentary on your website article regarding the efficacy of hypnosis for smoking cessation and I disagree with much of what you have said.
You indicate that approximately 1 in 4 people are not able to be hypnotized. This is a blanket statement that does not take into consideration why they may not be able to be. Hypnosis only works if someone wants to make a change in his/her behavior. It works on the subconscious mind, bypassing the conscious mind (critical thinking part). Hypnosis helps heighten awareness in the subconscious so any suggestion that is within the client’s belief system can be reinforced. In much the same way, a hypnotist cannot make someone do something (s)he does not want to do. If someone is not ready to make a change in a negative behavior like smoking, the hypnotist will not be able to help make that change. The client needs to be willing and open to doing so.
My personal success rate with using hypnosis to help clients stop smoking is about 85%. It may be easy to help someone stop smoking in the short-term using any method, but the goal is long-term success. As part of any hypnosis session, a client learns self-hypnosis. In fact, hypnosis can only really work if the hypnotist is the facilitator but the client hypnotizes him/herself. The client then repeats self-hypnosis techniques at home and whenever the urge to smoke arises. (S)he will also have a customized CD to listen to for reinforcement. Hypnosis is designed to eliminate the desire, not to teach a personto be strong enough to resist the urge to smoke. Instead of teaching someone to sacrifice something that (s)he otherwise enjoys, the goal of hypnosis is to train a person to be rid of something (s)he does not want, to change a bad habit and an unhealthy behavior. Psychologically, this is a much more agreeable position, and as a result, it works.
You cite one study of hypnosis’ efficacy: TheJournal of Dental Education, 2001. There are many others. For example, the International Journal of Clinical Experimental Hypnosis found success rates were as high as 91% at follow-up 6 months to 3 years post-treatment. Another study conducted at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California-San Francisco, published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research (2008) found that hypnosis is an effective treatment for smoking cessation when compared with standard behavioral counseling. According to the Academy of Professional Hypnosis, the Mayo Clinic lists “changing negative habits” (which we can all agree applies to quitting smoking) as one of the benefits of hypnosis. Most recently, in April 2012, the Wall Street Journal published an article extolling the uses of hypnosis.
You also advise WebMD readers to only seek out a practitioner who could also provide other medical services. First, no other medical service is typically needed for smoking cessation unless someone is looking for a prescription for a nicotine gum or patch. Second, many qualified successful hypnotists, myself included, are trained and certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH). Continued education (annual training and skills updates) is required to maintain that certification. NGH is nationally recognized; it was founded in 1950 and is the oldest and largest educational organization for Hypnosis in the U.S.Hypnocounselors operate under HIPAA and must disclose what services they are able to provide. If hypnosis is administered by an NGH-certified practitioner, there is no need for other medical personnel to be involved. Instead, medical personnel frequently REFER patients to hypnotists to quit smoking.
Hypnosis as a treatment for smoking cessation and other things, including amelioration of pain, reduction of blood pressure and weight, has been clinically studied. It has been used since ancient times and became better know following WWII when it was shown to be effective in helping soldiers. Many hypnotists have success rates of 75% or better (the 3 out of 4 who can be hypnotized). It is misleading for WebMD to imply that it is untested, ineffective or must be administered by medical professionals.
Please update your site. Thank you.
Kathleen M. Lindert
Certified Hypnocounselor, ACht