Smoking Cessation Using Guided Imagery and Role PlayingBy Dr. Richard Boyum
The technique that I have successfully used to facilitate smoking cessation involves a role playing technique combined with guided imagery. I use X-rays that I have received from a local hospital from a late thirties female who died of lung cancer that was smoking induced. I put my client who is trying to quit smoking through a series of relaxation exercises. A typical individual is someone in their early twenties who wishes to stop smoking. After creating a state of relaxation, I have them imagine that they are now in their early forties and theat I am their doctor. They have been suffering from a persistent cough, uncomfortable feeling in their chest, shortness of breath and feelings of tiredness and fatigue. A chest X-ray is ordered and our session is essentially the interpretation of the chest X-ray. I show them the malignancy that is clearly marked on the right lobe of their lung. I describe in painstaking fact what can be done regarding both chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, but I am also very honest with them: prognosis is that 18 to 24 months from the time of diagnosis, 85 percent of patients have died. We look at the implication as it related to their family, their job, and the life that they have planned. After we have completed the role-playing experience, we then move the clock back to the present. The client has been given the opportunity to look into the future. They have now returned from their time travel. They have the opportunity to alter their choices and their behaviors and not make that experience of 20 years from now come true. By changing their smoking behaviors, they can prevent their own lung cancer. In college students with very bright and active minds, this technique has proven to be highly effective. College students can see the cause and effect relationship as it relates to behavior. This kind of cognitive-emotional technique is one that works well with them. See if it might not have the same benefit in your work setting as well.