- Hypnotherapy, an alternative medicine, helped Halsey quit smoking.
- The practice creates a state of focused attention, in which you’re open to hearing suggestions.
- This method has helped people quit smoking, but research is mixed.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
While Halsey was chatting about makeup and beauty on Manny Mua’s YouTube channel, the singer said hypnotherapy helped her quit cigarettes after smoking for 11 years.
“I had to get hypnotized,” she said, describing the quitting process as a “journey.”
Hypnotherapy is an alternative medicine that uses meditation, concentration, and focused attention as a means to get people in a trance-like state. In this relaxed state, your brain is more open to suggestions, like making tweaks to your routine.
While hypnotherapists say this practice helps smokers quit, there is little research to back up that it would work for everyone.
How hypnotherapy helps with smoking cessation
Hypnotherapist, Grace Smith, told Insider hypnotherapy has been used throughout history — like treating soldiers suffering from trauma in World War II, for example. Starting in the 1970s, hypnotherapy has helped people quit smoking, reaching peak popularity around the 90s, according to Smith.
During the first session, a hypnotherapist asks questions about your smoking rituals, and tries to replace the habit with a new one. “It’s not enough to just remove smoking, you have to replace it with a new ritual,” Smith said.
Smith said when we’re alert, stressed, and engaged, we’re in the “beta” brainwave state. This is the state in which hypnotherapists take stock of their clients’ smoking habits.
After that step, they guide you through a more intense version of a guided meditation.
That’s when, Smith said, you’re hypnotized, and your brain shifts to a “theta” brainwave state, in which you’re more relaxed than daydreaming, but more alert than sleeping. In this relaxed state, you’re more open to hearing healthy alternatives to smoking, and hypnotherapists ask you to visualize your day with a new, healthy habit.
But you have to be open to hearing these suggestions. Smith cautioned that hypnotherapy is not mind control, and the desire to change smoking habits needs to come from within. “Let’s say that your spouse just really wants you to quit and you’re tired of them nagging you, but you yourself don’t want to quit. Save your money and your time because this will not be effective,” she said.
Depending on the client, Smith said hypnotherapy can start to be effective after two to 12 sessions, emphasizing that it’s a process rather than a swift solution. “It’s not magic and it is a process of conditioning, and the more sessions you have, the more depth you’ll get,” she said.
Research about hypnotherapy’s effectiveness in treating smoking cessation is mixed
In a small 2007 study of 67 smokers, researchers found that hospitalized patients who went to one hypnotherapy session were more likely to be nonsmokers after six months, compared to patients who used nicotine replacement therapy or quit cold turkey.
But in another analysis of multiple studies, comprising 957 smokers, researchers at Cochrane found no proof that hypnotherapy provided any extra benefit in helping people quit smoking than counseling.
Building on that research, a more recent analysis by New Zealand researchers of 14 studies, involving 1,926 smokers, also could not confirm that hypnotherapy was any more effective than counseling or quitting cold turkey.
Anecdotally, Smith used hypnotherapy to quit smoking after nicotine patches didn’t work, and she said it was so effective, she was inspired to switch careers from a corporate life in fundraising to becoming a hypnotherapist.
“There is no clear evidence that hypnotherapy is better than other approaches in helping people to stop smoking,” said the New Zealand study’s authors.
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