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Powerful Two Session Approach For Smoking Cessation Using 5-PATH®, A Universal Approach To Hypnosis

Calvin D. Banyan, MA, BCH, CI

Five Phase Advanced Transformational Hypnosis or 5-PATH® is a powerful and almost universal approach to doing hypnosis. It involves integrating some of the most powerful techniques available to the hypnotist. Each technique is applied in a specific order, starting with a Direct Suggestion session and continuing with Age Regression Work, Forgiveness of Others Work, Self-Forgiveness Work and ending with Parts Mediation Work.

Using the 5-PATH® approach provides the hypnotist with ample opportunity to work with her smoking cessation client, but in the vast majority of cases, she will only need the first two phases, Direct Suggestion and Age Regression Work. And, the age regression phase will generally be used in a special and limited way. Usually age regression is used to uncover the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE). As most properly trained hypnotists know, an ISE can be uncovered and then re-evaluated by the hypnotist and client, thus reducing or eliminating the impact of that event on the client’s life.

When using age regression to help someone stop smoking, regression to first cigarette is usually sufficient. It is only on the rare occasion that a smoking cessation client will need to be treated using regression to ISE and other 5-PATH® techniques. But, it is always good to know that if the client’s inability to stop smoking is being caused by some event in her past (a time before she started smoking), then the 5-PATH® program can be used to help her.

Some quick examples of how an ISE may contribute to a client’s inability to quit smoking are any kind of trauma or childhood programming that left the client feeling significantly inadequate or fearful. Then the cigarette or other addiction may be used as a way to distract herself or self-medicate, such as in the use of alcohol. Such substances have become ways of coping with unpleasant feelings associated with those past events.

However, even if this is the case, such a client will most likely be helped to quit smoking if other coping techniques are acceptable and suggested in the session. Examples of appropriate and useful coping techniques include any way your client can direct herself away from the feeling for a while (just as the cigarette did). Here are some good rules for such distracters:

  1. They should be pleasant
  2. Not immoral, illegal or fattening

We will not make appointments with clients unless they agree to two sessions. This allows us to work with both phases and greatly increases our chances of success with the client.

Phase 1: Direct Suggestion

The first session begins Phase 1. It will consist of the initial contact, pre-talk, pre-hypnosis interview, a hypnosis session with convincers, direct suggestion and suggestions for post-hypnotic reinforcement. Let me spend a little more time on each of these steps of Phase 1:

Initial Contact

Always keep in mind, first impressions count.  So make sure that all of your promotional materials make the kind of impression you want to make. Make sure that the telephone is answered in a professional and encouraging way. All of this serves not only to increase the probability that you will make the first appointment with your client, it also begins to build mental expectancy of success. Also, remember that when you handle each client well, you are increasing the likelihood that this client will refer others to you.

The Hypnosis Pre-Talk

At our center, we have our hypnosis pre-talk videotaped, so the client will experience this part of the session before meeting with the hypnotist. However, some hypnotists will want to do the intake or pre-hypnosis interview first.

The pre-talk has one goal, and that is to remove as much of what can get in the way of a successful session as possible. What can get in the way? Your client’s fears and misconceptions regarding hypnosis can cause the client to inhibit going into hypnosis, no matter what kind of hypnotic induction you use.

Your pre-talk should discuss briefly what you mean when you say such things as subconscious and conscious mind. It should define hypnosis. And, it should make clients feel they can do it. It should remove common misconceptions about hypnosis by informing them that:

  1. Hypnosis cannot hurt you
  2. You cannot get stuck in hypnosis
  3. You will always be in control and you cannot be made to do anything against your will (including stop smoking, lose weight, etc.)
  4. You will probably remember everything that happens during the session
  5. Anyone of normal intelligence can be hypnotized
  6. Anyone who can follow instructions can be hypnotized
  7. You have already been hypnotized thousands of times before

Pre-Hypnosis Interview

One of the main reasons you conduct a pre-hypnotic interview (or intake interview) with a client is to build rapport. You need to establish a hypnotic relationship. You can easily do this by being attentive to the information the client gives you, and presenting yourself as being non-judgmental.

Here is some of the information you will want to obtain from your clients. Ask her why she wants to quit smoking and write it down. These reasons can be very useful in the hypnosis session.

Ask your client about her commitment to quit smoking. If you can have her make a commitment to quit smoking, no matter what happens. If she can, have her make the commitment to make it work. She should carry the same level of commitment to quitting this time as if she was not going to use hypnosis at all. This sets up the client with the best mental attitude for success. Hypnosis is a tool, not mind control.

Nicotine is not addicting! I will mention this to every smoking cessation client. I’m surprised by how many will agree with me right off the bat. There has been so much programming in the media and other sources about the power of nicotine. And, frankly I just don’t believe it. Nicotine is not addicting and I believe I can prove it to you by asking you a question. If nicotine was so addicting, how come we don’t have centers all across the United States of America to help people get off the nicotine gum and the patch? When nicotine is given in pure form, no one ever seems to get addicted. I’ve never had anyone come into my office and ask me to help her quit the gum or the patch and there probably never will be.

If it is not addicting, then how come people smoke and have trouble quitting? Simple, for two reasons:

  1. First, it is a habit and habits are difficult to stop unless an alternative habit is established,
  2. Second is that cigarettes are used as coping mechanisms, when an individual may smoke to take her attention away from an unpleasant feeling, such as anxiety, sadness, loneliness or depression. It is a distracter.

During the pre-talk, it can be very beneficial to bring up these ideas to the client. If they are acceptable, you can use them in the hypnosis session. Furthermore, one of the main reasons many people will start smoking again (other than experiencing a stressful condition in their lives) is weight gain. I will usually suggest that we make up a list of things my client can do as distracters when stressful situations arise. I call it her “Quit Smoking Without Gaining Weight Plan.” Most people like that idea.

The Second Hypnosis Session

Much is argued about which type of hypnotic induction is best. I recommend the more modern and practical instant and rapid inductions, which are typical of the type taught by Dave Elman and written in his book, Hypnosis. But, that discussion goes beyond the scope of this article.

When doing the hypnosis, use a hypnotic induction that is designed to take most clients into somnambulism and contains a hidden test for the depth of hypnosis. Then you know that your client is in hypnosis and at what level she has obtained. Then you will know if further deepening is needed.

In addition to letting you know if and how deeply hypnotized your client is, depth testing is very important because it allows you to use convincers. Tests tell you what level of hypnosis your client has obtained. Convincers indicate to your client she has achieved the hypnotic state. Basically, you should induce hypnosis, and deepen to somnambulism. At this point, you can be sure that your client will pass a test for any lighter state of hypnosis, such as eye or arm catalepsy. Passing such a test powerfully convinces your client that she is in hypnosis (which deepens the hypnosis, meaning she becomes even more suggestible). It also convinces her she did the right thing when she selected you as her hypnotist! (Again, we are talking about receiving more referrals).

Scripts for Direct Suggestion

Most hypnotists use some kind of script or hypnosis patter when doing direct suggestion. Others will use a script and add or subtract from it, depending on the needs of their clients. Still others will construct their suggestions built upon years of experience and the needs of their clients. However you decide to do it, I recommend your suggestions are not totally surprising! I find that in a first session, I should stay pretty close to the material I covered in the pre-talk (nicotine is not addicting, it is a habit, you can do other things than smoke to handle stress, etc.). I will also begin the suggestions by using some kind of motivational patter that puts the client in the proper state of mind for receiving suggestions. Such a patter would consist of covering the reasons she mentioned for wanting to quit and the benefit of doing so. I will also suggest that she will be avoiding other ill-effects of smoking that are common. (Examples are avoiding all of the worry and inconvenience associated with smoking.)


Too many hypnotists don’t make good use of the time when emerging a client. This is a great time to make last minute suggestions, such as feeling good after she has emerged, post-hypnotic suggestion for time distortion and sensitivity to a color or object. I like to suggest that the client will underestimate the time spent on hypnosis. This is a powerful convincer, especially if the time distortion is over 100% (i.e., it seemed like 10 minutes, when it was 20 minutes or longer).

Post-Hypnotic Interview

After the session is over, it is time to discuss the session, pointing out to the client any convincers that were used, such as eye-lock and time distortion. This is also the time to discuss any questions about the session your client might have. She might want to tell you about any subjective experiences she had, such as tingling, heaviness or profound feelings of relaxation, etc.

At this time, you will want to make the next appointment with your client. It is best if you don’t just have her call when she wants a second appointment. We recommend to our clients the next session be held in 3 to 7 days.

Phase 2: Regression To First Cigarette

Pre-Hypnosis Interview

When you meet with your client for the next time, it is almost a time of suspense. You want to hear how things went after the session, and your client wants to tell you all about it. I recommend you start off with a review of the last session. Find out what the client thought of the hypnosis experience. It also helps to jog your memory of the last session.

Then find how things went. Go chronologically. Ask her, “What was it like right after you emerged?” Then, move on to, “What was it like right after you left the office?” Find out if she had any difficulties abstaining from smoking. Congratulate her, even if she was only partially successful. Sometimes I will have a client go from smoking one to four packs a day and she will come in feeling bad because she smoked one or two cigarettes during the last week or so. Focus on the positive. Tell her this session will be ten times more powerful than last session. Have your client recommit if she hasn’t completely stopped.

Most will have stopped smoking completely after the first session. Again, congratulate her. Tell her this session is going to really compound last week’s experience, so she will know even more powerfully that she will not want to ever smoke again! Be upbeat.

If you did your work well last session, you now have an ideal client on your hands. She knows she can be hypnotized and you are the one that can help her. It is time to prepare her for the next session. Since this next session is going to be an age regression session, it sometimes helps to let the client know she will be speaking during the session so she might not feel as relaxed as last time. Talk to her a little about how hypnosis is not relaxation, but rather focused attention.

Answer any questions, but I recommend you don’t tell your client what you are going to do. Anticipating an age regression almost always tends to inhibit a successful revivification of the experience from the past.  “Don’t shoot yourself in the foot,” as Gerald Kein would say, “by telling your client that you are going to do an age regression.”

The Hypnosis Session

Last session, you should have suggested the next time you do hypnosis with your client she will go in quickly and easily. This sets up things perfectly for an instant induction. If you don’t already use them, I suggest you consider learning how. They are among the most universal and reliable inductions available to the modern hypnotist. Follow the instant induction with a rapid deepening technique.

I like to do some quick suggestions to create hypermnesia. I’ll say something like, “The subconscious mind is now working with us and able to provide you with recall of any experience I suggest to you. Even though you weren’t thinking about it a moment ago, suddenly you can recall a pleasant time when you were a child playing with (or on)…” and follow it with some common childhood experience, like playing in water, dirt, on a swing or on a bicycle. I have the client signal when she recalls what is suggested. Then, I will have her recall the first time she ever smoked a cigarette and to signal me when she remembers.

Age Regression To Her First Cigarette

Now, it is time to do the age regression. I simply suggest when I count from 5 back to 1, she will be back at that time. Have your client “be there,” and tell you all about what is happening and who is there. Ask why she is smoking, whether she likes it and what that cigarette tastes like.

Then have your client in the regressed state (the child/client) go into the background and ask, “Boy, if you knew then what you know now about all the problems smoking was going to bring into your life, would you have ever started smoking?” Of course, the client is going to say, "No," unless there were some very unusual circumstances in the client’s life.

Informed Child Technique

Then, say “Good, then if you could let her know what you know now, she will never start.” “In a moment, I’m going to count from 3 back to 1, and when I get to 1, you will be back there with her. You will be able to let her in on why she will regret ever starting, so she won’t.”

I am simplifying the process a little, but next you want to encourage a dialog between the adult/client and the child who started smoking (even if she started at 30 years of age). This is called the Informed Child Technique. The great strength of using it in this way, is that inside of the adult/client are the words the child/client needs to hear so she doesn’t start smoking.

The conversation is completed when the child/client has decided to not start smoking. You can find out if the problem is solved by asking the adult/client if she believes child/client. If she does, this means the problem is probably over for good. You can look at it this way. Both the child/client and adult/client are the same person. You have conducted a hypnosis session where your client has had a good talk with herself! She has said to herself whatever needed to be said (probably the perfect hypnotic suggestions for her) so that she can be done with smoking permanently. 

Direct Suggestion

Now, it is time to reinforce the suggestions you gave in the first session along with any insight gained in this session. Use direct suggestion, direct drive, and compounding. One approach is to use a shorter version of the patter you used in the first session. Don’t overlook this time. Because of the experience your client has just had, she has become highly suggestible for these particular suggestions.


Before you emerge your client from hypnosis, ask her, “Are you now a non-smoker?” She will probably say, “Yes I am.” This is a powerful autosuggestion! Saying things like that out loud is very powerful, especially when your client is in hypnosis. Of course, if for some reason you feel she is not ready to make those kinds of statements don’t ask, because negative statements in hypnosis are also very powerful.

Post-Hypnotic Interview

After the session, ask again, “Are you now a non-smoker?” Again, saying this out loud, right after emerging is very suggestive, even in the truest meaning, autosuggestion.

Then, follow up with answering your client’s questions and be congratulatory of this permanent decision to become a non-smoker. We like to give our new non-smokers a certificate. I do it when we get to the front of the office where the reception desk is. I’ll say, “Are you now a non-smoker? And, is there anything you could ever imagine that could ever make you want to do that to yourself again?” When she says, “No,” I pat her on the back and give her the certificate.

This is all very theatrical and really provides encouragement for anyone sitting in the waiting room! 

Before your client leaves, make sure she knows if she ever needs more work, you will be happy to work with her again, whether it be to work on other issues or to teach her self-hypnosis. Give out some brochures. I’ve done so much smoking cessation that sometimes I think about not doing it any more, but I’d be crazy to stop. My ex-smokers are one of my best sources for new clients. Some of those new clients will be for smoking cessation, but many others are for other things too.

I hope that you have picked up a few things from this article. Keep in mind, if further work needs to be done, then the client is experiencing some kind of emotional attachment to smoking. Then, I will continue using the regular 5-PATH® process. Using Age Regression Work, Forgiveness Work, and Parts Mediation Work has given me very reliable results. I can say about the only way you can fail to stop smoking when you come to The Hypnosis Center, Inc. is to fail to finish the program.