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Stop Smoking - Stop Smoking Through Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can help you stop smoking permanently. But it need not involve expensive counseling sessions with a professional. Any mixture of self-help and outside assistance can up your odds of a permanent change in behavior, one conducive to long-term health.

Don't limit your choice to any one school of psychotherapy - there are a dozen or more. Use techniques from each to get you to your goal: quitting smoking permanently.

Hypnosis is one popular technique. It's been around since the 19th century as a therapeutic method. Though once associated with charlatans, contemporary professionals see a role for it in helping modify many behaviors. After all, the physical addiction associated with smoking is only one aspect. Long term change requires an adjustment to the mind.

Hypnosis involves making suggestions that are retained at a sub-conscious level. Those hidden triggers that encourage the choice to smoke can be combated by instilling other triggers that oppose them.

More conscious efforts are also desirable. Cognitive therapy for example, focuses on discovering and understanding those thoughts and ideas that are in our control. When they're examined carefully, they can be influenced by reference to fact and logic.

One way to use that approach is to make a list of all those events and objects associated with the decision to smoke. Write down the times you reach for a cigarette, and what prompted the choice. Is it a blind habit to light up right after waking up? Do you reach for a cigarette right after a meeting with the boss, who gives you yet another unpleasant assignment?

Looking for those triggers is the key to bringing them into conscious awareness, where they can be subject to conscious control. The approach is similar to traditional psychoanalysis - bringing items up from the subconscious.

But cognitive therapy regards them as having been placed there through past thinking, not necessarily unexamined childhood or other events. Therefore, those thoughts can be intentionally replaced with new thoughts by a conscious effort.

It's not an automatic process, nor one devoid of any emotional involvement. Quite the opposite, feelings and thought need to be harmonized.

That effort is key to long term success. Simply knowing what motivates you to smoke is only half the exercise. Doing something about it is equally important.

That can mean redirecting your focus onto other activities.

Instead of having a smoke to relieve stress, exercise for a few minutes. You're doing yourself a double favor. Foregoing one cigarette reduces by that small amount the habit that is injuring your health. Exercising is building it up in the direction toward health. Or, instead of reaching for a cigarette to accompany that beer or fine glass of wine, select a small piece of fruit, bread or chocolate.

In each case, the technique is to redirect that decision to smoke a cigarette. It moves onto something that helps both eliminate one smoking episode and presents a desirable yet healthy alternative.

All long-term behavior modification can only come from re-forming habits. There was a time when you didn't smoke. To reach that time again, develop a plan then carry it out, one choice at a time.