One sunny afternoon in 2011, Debbie, our teacher asked whether there were any smokers in the room. Myself and two other hypnotherapy students, Charlotte and Ross, warily raised our hands. The teacher then asked whether we wanted to stop smoking. Myself and Ross admitted that we did not, leaving Charlotte, to “volunteer” for a session of “Stopping Smoking Through Hypnotherapy” with Debbie.
In fact, I did want to stop smoking. I just wasn’t convinced that now would be a good time. But instead of simply observing, with the rest of the students, I allowed myself to be hypnotized along with Charlotte, closing my eyes, relaxing deeply and engaging with the teacher’s trance induction.
Debbie was highly competent and quick thinking. Having asked Charlotte a few personal questions, she was able to create a bespoke hypnotherapy session, right there on the spot. Much of the hypnotic suggestion was personal to Charlotte, but when Debbie started talking about growths on the tongue and cancer of the throat, her words seemed to sear themselves directly into my subconscious mind.
I already knew that smoking can lead to slow and painful death – who doesn’t? But before that day, I’d always felt that other people would be unlucky – not me. Suddenly, I was on the spot. I had been a smoker for twenty years. And under hypnosis, I was afraid. My throat went dry and my tongue tingled. Blood beat in my ears. Why do you smoke? I was thinking, Why do you do this terrible thing to yourself?
When Debbie brought Charlotte (and me) back into full consciousness, my forehead was damp with sweat. At break time, instead of heading outside for a cigarette as usual, I headed to the Gents. In front of the mirror, I anxiously examined my mouth and tongue for lesions or growths. Thankfully, there did not seem to be any damage.
Smoking is a hugely addictive habit and I did continue to smoke, intermittently, for a few weeks. But the fear ignited by Debbie’s words proved stronger than my attachment to cigarettes. Long before the summer’s end, I had stopped forever and I knew it. I can vividly recall the last time I touched a cigarette. The certainty that I would never touch another is still with me, five years later. I have absolutely no desire to smoke.
Where other techniques had failed, hypnotherapy worked for me. I became – and remain – a passionate non-smoker. For this reason, I am committed to helping others stop smoking forever, through hypnotherapy.
 Events are real, names are fictitious