Smoking Cessation: A Case Study of Parts Therapy

By Chris Fleet, top UK Hypnotherapist, Devon School Of Hypnotherapy


“I really want to stop smoking, but there is a part of me that just keeps making me want to smoke.”

How many times, as a smoker, have you said this?

How many times as a hypnotherapist have I heard this?

Perhaps not related to smoking but most can add their slant on the statement; I really want to stop…. [worrying, stressing, over/under eating, picking nails/skin, drinking, gambling, using illicit drugs, etc.]….but there is a part of me that just wants to carry one. This is something that is common to us all.

Parts therapy is an excellent way of finding a resolution for this dilemma. Of course, as with everything, there are drawbacks and caveats, but overall, it is an excellent way of dealing with the hidden reasons as to why we feel the need to do these things.


A client named ‘Mandy’ (not her real name), came to see me last month. Now, Mandy had stopped smoking several times before but had always started up again.

The first time she came to see me, I realised that her treatment would not be a simple case of direct suggestion. To begin with, I used my usual first-time techniques; Fork in the path, the smoke-filled room, coping to master, future packing, and ego boosting. Mandy responded somewhat, but I was not convinced that she was being compliant. Mandy passed the hypnosis tests I gave her -her hands were stuck together, but something just didn’t quite sit right with me.

Second Appointment

At her second appointment, Mandy had cut down the number of cigarettes, but she was still smoking.  I asked her how hypnotised she felt using a scale of 1-10. She reported that she felt it was between a 5 or 6 – this is not a good measure for the standards I uphold. I explained to her how it would be much easier during this session as there would be less trepidation since she knew what would/wouldn’t happen. Mandy responded much better during this session. After a while, you can sense how individuals are doing, and despite doing better, she could have gone further still.

Parts Therapy

The thing with parts therapy is that it can not be forced. As much as she had gone deeper this time, I sensed that if I’d have pushed her to start talking, her conscious mind would kick in and I would be talking to the rider and not the horse again –see horse and rider analogy.

smokingWe practised a technique I personally developed called ‘Visual Parts’. While it is not as strong as full parts therapy session(s), it is still effective and useful, particularly for those that struggle to talk in hypnosis without bringing their analytical mind to the fore.

At the end of the session, it was arranged for Mandy to come back the following week on the understanding that she could always cancel if she did not need the session.

Mandy’s biggest test was the night of her second session as she was socialising where alcohol would be involved, and this was her biggest trigger.

Mandy did cancel her third appointment. I did fear the worst because I knew deep down that we had not reached the crux of the matter with her smoking.


Two and a half weeks after her first session, she came in for that third session. She had done well and had only caved when she attended a party. Mandy’s logic behind smoking that night was that she had managed to stop so she could have that night of smoking and merely stop again the next day. Unfortunately, it did not work out that way, and she began smoking again, although not nearly as much.

This time Mandy went very deep, and we ran through a full parts therapy session where I accessed the part of her mind that wanted to smoke and the part that didn’t. The session did not run smoothly, although Mandy was not aware of this, as there was a standoff between the two parts-one part wanted to smoke, and the other didn’t. After some time, it was discovered that smoking was used as a way of taking a break and releasing tension.  As the session progressed, we found other ways for Mandy to have that break and release.

Then we hit upon another problem when checking with her subconscious; we discovered another part that still wanted to smoke.

We accessed this part of her psyche, and it said it enjoyed it. I asked if it enjoyed the taste? No, it didn’t. Did it like the smell? No, it didn’t. Did it like the act of making a roll-up and smoking it? No, it did not. Did it enjoy anything about smoking? Yes. It enjoyed the freedom it bought.

Immediately you could see the transformation on her face when she realised this. We then used this desire for freedom to turn things around.

As a therapist, you need to be very careful with your terminology because freedom can mean many things to different people.

We steered the conversation to Mandy having the freedom to choose between being the best mum she could be or someone who surrendered her freedom by doing precisely what the marketing people tell her to do and smoke.

We used her determination to have freedom by giving her the option to prove to herself how much freedom she had by remaining smoke-free. After all, it was her rebellious streak that made her smoke in the first place, and it was using that same streak that enabled her to remain smoke-free.

Whenever you get the chance to help someone, be it a paying client or someone close, find out why it is they do something at a very deep level. You can then use that same reason in a more positive manner.

Parts therapy is an integral part of the hypnotherapy training I offer at The Devon School of Hypnotherapy. For those who have already trained with me will know, it will stand you head and shoulders above all hypnotherapists.



If you would like further information relating to hypnotherapy treatment and/or training, please contact me on 01803 500300 or email

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