Cognitive Hypnotherapy for habits, addictions and
Addiction or a chronic habit?
I am generally opposed to the concept of "addiction" which implies that we are completely at the mercy of our biology - and prefer to focus on the concept of "habit" and conditioned response, which we can control and change with increased awareness, knowledge, skills and practice.
The approach of relaxation, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness (becoming more self-aware) is an effective treatment programme for addictions and chronic habits.
A Multi-Component/Toolbox Approach
A very similar programme to the Smoking Cessation programme this treatment programme has worked effectively with many clients who have drinking habits or drug habits that they wish to change.
This is what is called a "multi-component" approach - it combines many different techniques into a coherent effective programme to change habits and prevent relapse
Addictions = habits = conditioned reflexes
A habit is simply an automatic way of responding to a given stimulus - an automatic reflex. Usually a positive experience has become associated with a particular action; this is nearly ALWAYS a reduction in stress, anxiety, emotional distress, agitation or boredom/restlessness - and a consequent feeling of relief. Sometimes pleasure, rather than lowering of stress, is the dominant associated emotion.
Negative behavioural habits are nearly always associated with lowering stress (self-soothing) and/or pleasure.
Triggers for negative habitual behaviour are usually agitation, boredom, uneasiness, emotional distress, mild or medium levels of anxiety or stress - or sometimes simply not getting sufficient pleasure and satisfaction from other areas of our life.
Treatment for Simple Habits: Nail-biting, hair-pulling, nervous tics etc
Simple habits like nail-biting, hair pulling etc. the approach used is called Habit Reversal Training. This is delivered in a single two hour session with a one hour follow-up session 7-14 days later. Habit Reversal Training for simple habits is remarkably effective with a study of 300 clients showing an average 90% reduction in the habit after the 2 hour session, improving to 97% reduction in habit after one month. (Nunn & Azrin, 1977)
Treatment Programme for behavioural habits: drinking. drug use, over-eating etc.
The treatment plan for overcoming habits or addictions like drinking, drug use, over-eating and similar habits is as follows:
(please see here for information on the treatment programme for stopping smoking)
i) Becoming more aware of trigger situations and emotions and keeping a diary of the habit (developing self-awareness and self-monitoring.)
ii) Increasing motivation noting costs of negative habits and benefits of change). Hypnosis can be used to explore deeply and experience the costs and benefits - leading to a profound increase in motivation to change.
ii) Learning rapid deep relaxation techniques
to lower stress, anxiety, agitation etc. Also to lower our reactivity. Tension increases reactivity, relaxation lowers it. As negative habits are negative automatic reactions therefore relaxation gives us greater self-control (rather than be at the mercy of tension induced habitual responses)
iii) Learning hypnosis and self-hypnosis to increase relaxation and build confidence (relaxation and confidence go hand-in-hand)
iv) Mapping out and challenging negative beliefs and then replacing negative beliefs with positive beliefs, self-talk, images and coping statements.
v) Developing a daily schedule that avoids trigger situations and learning how to handle trigger situations.
vi) While in hypnosis imagining negative trigger situations/emotions and rehearsing alternative positive responses (note: we repeat this enough times to create a new reflex/automatic response).
vii) Hypnosis to consciously develop a more positive self-image and imagine yourself changing and developing the qualities and behaviours you wish for yourself
Relapse is avoided by making sure that clients have the resources - positive habits and new experiences and understanding - to stay on their chosen path of being free from the habit. The whole programme fosters a deep sense of self-belief and this is essential for change and relapse prevention.
My goal is for clients to become 'addicted to' positive habits... in particular deep muscular relaxation and the ability to accept feelings (rather than try to change them). When one is able to experience deep muscular relaxation at will then the mind is calm and negative habits lose all meaning and purpose. In addition all reflex responses are lowered when our muscles are more relaxed (e.g. reflex response at the knee.)
Depending on the depth of the habit usually between four to six sessions.
Get help now for addictions, habits and drinking with a certified hypnotherapist
- with clinics in Central and North London.
Call now on 0800 8600 698
Or contact Mark by email here: