Modesto Bee

A_Trance_to_QuitA Trance to quit

Therapist helps kids stop smoking

By Donna Birch

Bee Staff Writer

February 25, 1999

Stockton – Kathy miller sat in an oversized recliner, nervously wringing hr hands. The 18-year-old wants to quit smoking. Virginia Lucas is going to help her.

Lucas describes the technique she’ll use to help the teen kink her nicotine habit. But miller is concerned about it effects.

“I won’t start barking like a dog or clucking like a chicken , will I?” Miller sheepishly asks.

“Not unless you want to.” Lucas replies

Lucas is used to such questions concerning her smoking cessation method. She’s a hypnotherapist at Evergreen Professional Hypnotherapy and uses her skills to help people quit smoking.

She mostly works with adults, but for the past six years, Lucas has offered free hypnotherapy to teens who smoke and chew tobacco. She know how hare it is to quirt. She smoked for 12 years. “I started when I was 18,” Lucas says. “In those days, we didn’t know (smoking) was bad for you.” Now she says. “My fantasy is to stop so many people from smoking that the tobacco industry knows my name.”

Hypnosis has been around since the 18th century and was first practiced by a Austrian medical doctor. But people have lots of misconceptions about hypnosis, what it is and how it works. Some think hypnosis can make them do strange things. None of which is true.

During hypnosis or hypnotherapy, the patient is in a relaxed but focused state of attention. At that point, the hypnotherapist gives the subject suggestion and new ideas bout themselves.

“Non can make you do anything against your will.” Lucas explains. “for a person to quit smoking (using hypnosis) they have to want to change.”

More than 100 teens have come to Lucas for help in six years. Most hear about her through work-of-mouth.

Miller decided to try hypnosis after her fiancé, 21-year-old Kevin Williams, tried it three weeks earlier. He says he hasn’t had a smoke since.

Lucas, has only two requirements for teens to be eligible for the free hypnotherapy: All must be accompanied by a responsible adult and they have to want to quit for themselves, not just to please someone else.

Lucas starts the session with a 10-minute conservation. She asks the basics: how long they’ve smoked. Why the started and whether certain events trigger their urge to light up.

In Miller’s case peer pressure contributed to her habit. She started smoking when she was 15. “I thought it was the cool thing to do.” she says.

The purpose of the interview, says Lucas, is to gauge how motivated the person is to quit. She asks her subject to read and sight a nonsmoking contract of commitment.

Then it begins. Miller closes her eyes and relaxes in a recliner. After a few moments of deep breathing, Lucas gives Miller the suggestions that will help her quit.

“You can leave this office as a nonsmoker,” Lucas says. “Go back to when you 15, before you started smoking. You thought smoking was stinky and stupid. You have decided to stay away from smoking. The thought turns you off. You lost all cravings.”

Similar suggestions follow. At the end. Before Miller is brought back to a full state of awareness, Lucas tells her one last thing.

“You’ve kicked that habit. Kicked it in the butt. You are a nonsmoker becoming healthier.”

The session lasts about an hour. Miller gets a parting gift from Lucas: a little green card that reads “Proud nonsmoker,” along with the date that she quit.”

While teens are offered one free individual hypnotherapy session, those who need some extra help can attend free reinforcement meetings where groups of ex-smokers meet.

For more information on the free hypnotherapy for teen smokers, call Evergreen Professional Hypnotherapy at (209_ 472-0722 or the san Joaquin Safety Council (209) 472-7233