Google+ Case Studies| Inspired for Change, Sara Howard, Advanced Hypnotherapy
Be Inspired for Change


How to take control and Gain Confidence .... today’s unwanted habit is a ‘stop smoking’ case study!

The subject is how we can overcome a habit using hypnotherapy and NLP - even when it's a seemingly ingrained and unbeatable habit that we've been doing for many years, and it's also about how much more motivated and enterprising we can become without it.

Clients come to me for help with many different habits and issues having a negative effect on their life or work performance. For example, smoking and comfort eating, severe blushing or increased respiration during public speaking; general anxiety when dealing with difficult people, even a fear or phobia of certain situations like failing a big goal - maybe one their boss has set. The answer as to why this is happening, isn't always in conscious awareness and it may be related to an incident that happened long ago in the past.

Case study, ‘Mr X,’ like many of us had a busy lifestyle and who held a mistaken belief that he needed to smoke to manage his stress levels. We will also look at beliefs and how these influence us.

Now, Mr X had tried and failed to give up smoking on a number of occasions spanning some 30 years. He was unhappy with himself. Not being able to stop smoking, meant the habit and connective sense of failure has begun to spoil his motivation at work and play. Smoking altered his mood. As a corporate Leader, Mr X didn't like to lose or to admit defeat. He felt under even more pressure when his prestigious company paid smoking cessation counsellors to work with smoking employees in house. The method used was aversion therapy. Mr X’s company is aware of the health risks and issues connected to smoking, and Mr X wasn’t currently a good role model for his company.

Like many people who have been smoking 10-20 a day for over 30 years, the aversion therapy left Mr X feeling, 'a bit worried' but not enough to give up since he currently had no health problems. Therefore, in his desperation to stop smoking, Mr X turned to hypnotherapy. He told me, 'I know this must be wrong, they all say smoking doesn't relieve stress, but I can't get my head around that.' For him, stress became a transferable thing; first he felt stressed due to communication issues within his company, then he felt he couldn't solve them, then he would put up a mental fight regarding turning to a cigarette, but eventually, he would 'give in and smoke,' so as not to take those unhappy feelings home and transfer his stress onto his family and even his colleagues. There were in fact several layers to this process and this is the brief version.

Mr X didn’t want to take the unhappy feelings home. On deeper analysis, Mr X admitted he was aware he didn’t have anything in life, ‘for me’ and smoking held this dubious place. Now when a person can either imagine, or has the desire to embark on a beneficial and healthy change for themselves, this change can be projected. I’d discovered this client had a secret desire for a sporting activity, therefore we tapped into this motivation and brought it into conscious possibility, to reduce the hold of the smoking habit.

If you want to try hypnotherapy to successfully give up a habit like stop smoking, you are more likely to succeed if you want to stop for personal benefits such as you health and fitness rather than to please the firm, or to please your partner. It is about moving to a beneficial belief change. Some of you may have seen a TV programme, where two volunteers underwent aversion therapy. It had most influence on the volunteer who could subjectively identify with wanting children, and the desire not to put at risk an unborn child by smoking during pregnancy.

You may be asking, what is it about habits and the control they have over us? Well, let's look at what we naturally do unconsciously. We all have strategies, and Mr X’s body-language initially had become quite animated when he’d referred to the process of enjoyment that he experienced whenever he thought about lighting up and then smoking a cigarette; he’d described it as a multi-sensory experience in perfect synchrony. He would see the familiar steps in vivid colour, and note through every one of his senses the essence of the cigarettes. He said: 'Sara, it like a gold award in my hands when I’d got it!,' It had – we remember, really represented to him, ‘my time.’ He had also described the inner conflict that went with it. The urge to smoke had been a driving force. By understanding this client’s meta programme, and (piece by piece) his strategy, I had guided Mr X to see how smoking had really formed one big illusion for him. It's about understanding what the thing itself represents to each individual.

Remember, habits have a reason. Sometimes we forget why we do a thing, especially if it was a long time ago - the imagined benefit or reason may be deep in our unconscious and sometimes it shifts a little.

What happens when we think other people have an incorrect belief? People may resist if we challenge their beliefs. For example, we know that getting stress relief was consciously Mr X’s driver to smoke: he wanted to find a fleeting release and he also enjoyed the process of having that relief – ‘popping outside with mates’ .... whereas we also discovered an unconscious desire for something more beneficial. Now, Mr X still has these chats but instead of holding a cigarette, he is motivated to talk about his new fitness and sport activity. He has also learnt progressive relaxation techniques to help to manage stress.

Do you have a habit? maybe even something small that either you or your partner gets annoyed about? If so, can you remember when you started the habit, and why you did it then... and now? Think about your own strategies, are they conscious to you? Generally we don't even think about them, it becomes like riding a bike or a horse, driving the car, but we may recognise certain steps that we go through during the process. It isn't uncommon for people to get excited or take comfort from a process (like Mr X for the gold award) that doesn't actually deliver. We all have different coping mechanisms.

People often ask me, what actual methods do I use with stop smoking? In brief, I used an integrated hypnotherapy approach, with aversion techniques, behavioural modifications, reframing, indirect language patterns to positive change and NLP visualisation techniques

My task involved guiding, sharing, and reaching better alternatives and getting realistic agreement for a beneficial change

I hope you have found this information helpful and if you would like any further information please contact me at If you would like to engage in hypnotherapy or coaching, I can offer a free telephone consultation of up to 20 minutes. I have four clinic locations in Aston Clinton, Kings Langley, Holborn London and Wheatley, Oxford.

My best wishes to you all.

Telephone Sara on 01296 634921 or email her on

Go Forward, Gain Confidence!