Since Covid-19 I’ve been conducting all my sessions online. At first I was wondering about the validity of the online forum for something like smoking hypnosis. Because I use so much neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) in these sessions, involving gestures, touch and other physiological work, I was wondering how to translate this information without being physically present. So how have I maneuvered around these challenges? I’ve essentially demonstrated the actions on myself for the client to copy. Simple enough in theory, and happily, in practice too, as others have found.

Smoking addiction is rarely a straight habit. It is usually tied to other problem feelings or beliefs and for that reason, it is usually a three session package that I recommend. I’m going to run through a very brief outline of some of the element involved in a three session package with clients, and you will notice how these elements don’t vary in any significant way between online and face-to-face.

Techniques I often use with smoking, online and in-person

Timeline – how do they perceive time on an unconscious level? If time is not organised efficiently, it is easy for a person with addiction to fail the goal of quitting, for example, because they don’t understand where yesterday finished, today started and tomorrow will begin. There is no difference between online vs face-to-face.

Shifting anger and other problem emotions – it is really important to deal with anger issues up front. I use a fairly abstract process of doing this so that the logical mind cannot interfere. Essentially I speak ‘unconscious language’ to the unconscious mind, leaving the logical mind speechless. I need to see what the client’s hands are doing in this process, but if I can’t, I simply ask them to tell me what their hands are doing.

Integrating parts – this is also a fairly abstract NLP process which aims to integrate two opposing parts of a person’s thinking, for example: I really want to quit smoking/ I really want to reward myself with smoking. At the end of a face-to-face session I usually show the client my notepad so that they can see the direction that their thinking has taken. In online hypnosis, I lift my notepad up to the camera. If I took more time with this process, I could share my screen with them, but it’s not so important for them to read it all, just the key points, so I don’t.

Anchoring – usually in session I will touch the client’s hand at a specific time, to anchor a particular feeling into the body. I will them ask them to operate that anchor themselves. In online hypnosis, I demonstrate how I want the client to anchor their own hand. Then I instruct them to anchor at a particular time. Then they operate the anchor themselves. This variation does not affect the quality of the anchoring.

Hypnosis – I get the client to relax on their couch, close their eyes and to simply, listen. I add the instruction that they are to remain conscious, without falling asleep, through the hypnotherapy. So far this has worked in every case.

These are just a handful of the many techniques I use with smoking clients. The online forum has been fantastic for me, and my clients, much to my relief. If you think it’s time to quit, Skype or Zoom is the way to go