Why can't I get quit smoking hypnotherapy on prescription?

Smoking is an addictive behaviour classified by three or more of the following criteria: tolerance, withdrawal, higher consumption than intended, desire or failing efforts to control use, excessive time spent in substance-related activities, reduction in other activities due to substance use, and use of the substance despite knowledge of suffering from health problems occasioned by the substance use (DSM-IV-TR; 2000).

The efficacy of smoking cessation has been found to be related to several variables e.g., appropriate social support from family and friends (Lawhon, Humfleet, Hall, Reus, & Munoz, 2009), gender differences with fewer women successfully quitting smoking than men (Wetter et al., 1999), depression (Hitsman, Borrelli, McChargue, Spring, & Niaura, 2003), fears of gaining weight and poor body image (Klesges, Meyers, Klesges, & LaVasque, 1989). 

Whilst there are several pharmacological treatments on the market that can be prescribed for quitting smoking, most either promote continued use of nicotine and/or suppress cravings with potentially serious side effects.

Non-pharmacological therapies include both clinical hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which together promote a change in cognitions and behaviours and utilise techniques such as stimulus control, positive reinforcement, competing behaviours, assertiveness training and cognitive restructuring, as well as relaxation procedures to provide an alternative response to managing stress.

Clinical hypnotherapy is unique in that it involves an induced altered state of consciousness i.e., changes in mind and body conducive to therapeutic gain involving suggestions and imagined experiences that reinforce the health benefits of quitting smoking, change cognitions regarding smoking, and improve a smoker's ability to deal with nicotine cravings and high-risk trigger scenarios which cause relapse. 

Whilst pharmacology treatments can be very effective for some, they are intended for acute use only and don't address the underlying behavioural and psychological issues associated with dependence disorders such as chronic smoking.

Whilst the efficacy of cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy is anecdotally significant for smoking cessation, it isn't currently available on prescription due to an inconsistency in training approaches and procedures used by individual practitioners and the dearth of high-level quality research evidencing its efficacy in clinical trials.


Hypnotherapy is a self-regulated industry with a practitioner able to set up in business after very little if any formal training. There's a propensity for such practitioners to display unqualified and unsubstantiated success rates on their websites and marketing material and promote unethical guarantees of success which are both detrimental to tainting the credibility of the profession at large.

There is recognition of its efficacy however amongst several private health fund providers who do rebates for smoking cessation sessions. These private health fund providers will only provide a rebate if seen by a  practitioner who is registered with a reputable professional organisation and has a provider number. This recognises the practitioner has received substantial formal training and supervised practice and is continually updating their personal and professional development in line with their professional body membership requirements.


 Need more clarity on anything. Feel free to schedule a call with Karen, a smoking cessation specialist at https://calendly.com/karenbartle/hypnosis-to-quit-smoking



Hitsman, B., Borrelli, B., McChargue, D. E., Spring, B., & Niaura, R. (2003). History of depression and smoking cessation outcome: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 657–663.

Klesges, R. C., Meyers, A. W., Klesges, L. M., & LaVasque, M. E. (1989). Smoking, body weight, and their effects on smoking behavior: A comprehensive review of the literature. Psychological Bulletin, 106, 204–230 [Abstract]. 

Lawhon, D., Humfleet, G. L., Hall, S. M., Reus, V. I., & Munoz, V. I. (2009). Longitudinal analysis of abstinence-specific social support and smoking cessation. Health Psychology, 28, 465–472

Wetter, D. W., Kenford, S. L., Smith, S. S., Fiore, M. L., Jorenby, D. E., & Baker, T. B. (1999). Gender differences in smoking cessation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 555–562.


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