‘Social smoker’ visits hypnotherapist-to-the-stars Max Kirsten to see if he can FINALLY quit?
- Max Kirsten stopped Adele‘s 20-a day habit last year before the release of her hit single Hello
- He helps patients visualize themselves as healthier individuals and teaches them ‘relapse prevention’ techniques to ensure they stay off the cigarettes
- Kirsten charges £480 for three-hour smoking cessation session in London
- He has just launched the award-winning Quit Smoking Now with Max Kirsten app, based on his hypnotherapy session
- See more on Adele quitting smoking at www.dailymail.co.uk/adele
Max Kirsten is one of Britain’s most eminent clinical hypnotherapists who has replaced Paul McKenna as the go-to man for celebrities struggling with their addictions, anxieties and phobias.
Adele went to see him in August last year with a 20-a-day habit and a stark warning from doctors that it could very well end her career. After her session with Kirsten she packed up there and then.
Ewan McGregor – a heavy smoker for years – said Kirsten made stopping seem ‘effortless’. The actor hasn’t touched a cigarette since 2009.
Oscar nominee Tom Hardy has also been in Kirsten’s chair and so too, rumour has it, has Prime Minister David Cameron.
When I paid Max a visit just before Christmas he showed me a thank-you letter from a 16-year-old boy who couldn’t bear injections but overcame his phobia the moment he finished his session with Max and walked out of his clinic in Knightsbridge, London.
At this point I should make clear I’m not unfamiliar with the hypnotherapist’s chair, having already sat in two in the last eight years.
In 2008 I was hypnotised to stop smoking and it worked for a year. In 2014 I went to another hypnotherapist and I stopped for almost 12 months.
I’ve always been ‘just a social smoker’ and the craving for a cigarette with a beer was always what got me.
The hypnotist’s ‘spell’ or whatever you want to call it seemed to wear off in both cases after 12 months. But why?
‘People get complacent’, said Max.
‘They are more often then not at a party or in a stressful situation where someone else is smoking and they are not comfortable and think they can have just one and stop again.
‘But there’s no such thing as just one. Never go back, it will taste disappointingly foul, and they will have let the hazardous genie out of the bottle again.
‘I teach my clients to use my 60-second craving buster technique, so that they can dissolve any cravings in seconds, and then wake up the next day feeling so glad that they didn’t smoke. Anyone can quit smoking – how to stay stopped is the real key.’
I relapsed after the first hypnosis when I moved to Buenos Aires in 2008. My Spanish was rusty and I was nervous about what lay ahead. I convinced myself a cigarette was just the tonic.
A few years ago Max watched his mother succumb to a smoking-related cancer. He says it inspired him to develop an app to help smokers all over the world kick the habit.
The result is the award-winning ‘Quit Smoking Now with Max Kirsten’ app, based on his one-to-one advanced hypnotherapy NLP sessions at his London clinic. It includes 5 advanced hypnotherapy sessions, 9 extra audio tracks plus additional content designed to help you quit and stay quit for good.
‘I’m proud that this app has saved many lives, sometimes I read all the reviews and have to pinch myself. Health is the most precious thing that we can own’.
The app is rated among iTunes Top 10 Best Selling Medical Apps and voted #1 Stop Smoking App in The Sunday Times ‘THE APPS LIST’.
‘The beauty of the app is that it gives people complete nicotine freedom from all forms of tobacco; cigarettes, roll-ups, cigars, even shisha, and all nicotine products including e-cigs, vaping, patches, pills and gums.
The NEW ‘Quit Smoking Now with Max Kirsten’ App is available now for iPhone and android mobiles and costs £4.99 GPB or US$7.99.
The second time I thought I had stopped long enough that I could take a drag on a cigarette that had been passed my way and not relapse. Those three drags led to the odd cigarette here and there until I bought my own packet and away I went.
So it was to Max’s Knightsbridge clinic, a stone’s throw from Harrods, where there’s a desk, a leather reclining chair with a foot stool and a transparent bin bag in the corner packed full of crushed cigarette packets.
Before arriving I was told to bring some of my favorite brand of cigarettes. That bin bag, I realized, was where they were going to end up.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that you have to truly want those cigarettes in the bin bag and out of your life before visiting Max or any other hypnotherapist – or there’s simply no hope.
Like Adele and Ewan McGregor I was desperate to knock it on the head. I couldn’t bear another year of beating myself up about ruining my lungs and feeling on the back foot whenever I tried to swim and run – the two sports I was once so good at. Max was confident he could help transform me into that healthy non-smoker that I once was.
Max is a tall, well-spoken, confident sort in a well-cut suit. We spent the first hour discussing my habit: when I started, why I started, what and how many I smoked a day and the people in whose company I was most likely to smoke, and all my triggers.
Before he became a hypnotherapist and self-help author he was a 40-a day Marlboro red smoker (among the strongest cigarettes you can smoke).
And that’s not all. Max also took vast quantities of heroin and cocaine and spent his 20s and 30s pushing his body to the limit running nightclubs in New York and London. He later built up a telecoms business, which he sold in the 90s.
In 2000 he cleaned up, but he also became convinced he had given himself lung cancer (he hadn’t) and looked for a way to stop smoking effectively. For good.
Desperate to quit, he tried hypnotherapy and found he loved the feeling of being ‘under’ – the heightened sense of relaxation one feels when deeply hypnotized.
He trained to become a hypnotherapist, found that he had a talent for it and turned his lifestyle completely on its head.
‘Having survived my chronic addictions has made me a much better therapist,’ he said. ‘Having been there myself I know exactly how to help other people through theirs. ‘Everything I do is from that perspective whether it is a one-to-one session with me, an App I have created or a book I have written. I am now part of the solution exactly because I understand the problem.’
What the early part of his one-to-one session is designed to do is not only establish the type of smoker you are but also the person you would much rather be. Much of his advanced hypnotherapy is to do with visualization and positive mental rehearsal (PMR).
Once Max has you in the chair his job is to re-program you – removing the weak links and introducing new ways of dealing with old problems completely smoke-free. He gives you the vision of being a fit and healthy person who no longer has to feel guilty about their health.
If the truth be told I remember little about the second part of the session.
I remember settling into the leather chair, removing my shoes and placing my feet on his footstool. He gave me headphones that cut out all noise except his voice and then started me on relaxation exercises beginning with my eyelids. From this point I drifted off.
‘Remember a time when you felt on great form with others around you, day or night. Remind yourself of how you good you felt. Remember that feeling, that high.’ I also remember him telling me to open my eyes. The rest of the hour was a blur.
Max wasn’t concerned that I couldn’t remember much – in fact he said it was a sign of how deeply entranced I was. Neither were there any concerns as to whether he had successfully stopped me. He talked like it was a done deal, that I was now a non-smoker. I felt incredibly relaxed.
The final part of the session involved me whipping out the box of cigarettes I had brought along. Mine was a fresh unopened pack of ten. Max asked that I hold them out in front of me, to look at them while visualizing the type of non-smoking person I wanted to become and understand how the cigarettes in my hand would ruin all of that.
He got me to crush them and put them in the bin bag on top of the hundreds of other packets. I felt good.
‘Now you are a non-smoker’ he said.
This was mid-December. That evening I went home and watched TV with my parents. I spent the following week in Cornwall. I ran most mornings with my sister and found myself, for the first time ever, going to bed early (around 8pm some nights). It felt like the whole year had finally taken its toll and I was at last getting the rest my body craved. I ate well and enjoyed Cornish beer, champagne, wine, and Campari and sodas over the following few days of Christmas.
In a pub I saw a group of 20-somethings dipping into a pouch of Golden Virginia and rolling cigarettes at the bar before stepping out to smoke. I had a slight craving but it quickly subsided. ‘Deep breath, hold it for eight seconds. Repeat a further two times’ – Max was saying in my head – reciting his 60-second craving buster.
I live in New York and returned after a stressful journey via Boston where I waited for my connecting flight nursing a beer and not, as I would have done in the past, a cigarette too.
It’s been almost six weeks now and I have honestly not felt this good since I was a pre-drinking and smoking teen.
I’ve been running, swimming and doing yoga. My fridge is packed with good food and I’ve had no cravings for a cigarette. The difference is marked. I’m also buoyed by Max’s confidence that this time it will last.
A three-hour stop smoking session costs £480. For more information about Max Kirsten, see www.maxkirsten.com