Habits are routine behaviours done on a regular basis.

They are recurrent and often unconscious patterns of behaviour and are acquired through frequent repetition. Many of these are unconscious as we don’t even realise we are doing them. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines habits as:

1. an acquired mode of behaviour that has become nearly or completely involuntary
2. the prevailing disposition or character of a person’s thoughts and feelings
3. a settled tendency or usual manner of behaviour
4. a behaviour pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance

So we can see that habits define our character, our thoughts and feelings and our ‘usual’ behaviours. We can also see that habits are behaviours that are nearly or completely involuntary and because they are repeated frequently, we become ‘better’ at them (increased facility of performance).

Psychological definition

A habit can also be thought of as a link between a stimulus and a response. It serves as a mental connection between a trigger thought or event (stimulus) and our response to that trigger (the response). Repeating this connection time and again forms a habit and affects all subsequent decisions and actions. If repeated often enough, this connection becomes near permanent unless we take conscious action to change it.

For example, a stimulus for overeating might be stress. The stress may be physical, emotional or mental and triggered by such things as a restricted diet, tiredness, an argument, a bad day at work or even negative thinking. A learned response for dealing with this stress may be eating. Over time, the bond may become so strong that our automatic or habitual response to stress is to eat. In psychology, this is known as classical conditioning, as demonstrated by Pavlov’s dogs. The dogs learnt to associate a tone with food and would salivate whenever they heard the tone whether there was food present or not.

In order to interrupt and eventually eliminate this negative behaviour, we must weaken the bond between the stimulus and the response, so it eventually it becomes ‘extinct.’ Hence, the technical name ‘extinction’ is rooted from this word.

Addictions vs. Habits

A habit can also be an addiction.

Some believe the term addiction should be reserved for describing a physical dependency on chemical substances such as alcohol and drugs.

Other addictions include a range of compulsive behaviours such as gambling, eating, shopping, playing videogames, work and internet usage. This type of addiction is typically described as ‘psychological addiction,’ a state that can also accompany physical addictions.

Many habits such as smoking, nail biting, hair pulling, enuresis, sleep walking, insomnia and stuttering have all been successfully treated with hypnotherapy. See below for a short list and contact me to discuss any others you may wish to eliminate.

Compulsive/Problematic Gambling

Is gambling the new smoking? Whe you think about it, we all take a gamble in different, small ways – buying a raffle or lottery ticket, or even just saying “I bet you can’t do that”. It is when gambling behaviour becomes habitual, compulsive or addictive that its form of fun becomes a problem. rather than just a “bad habit”. The rush of excitement obliterates rational thinking. Time, money, family, friends are thrown away. The player pays for his fun by losing.

350,000 people in the UK are addicted to gambling. One third of people who gamble in casinos actually become addicted. But the good news is that they are NOT helpless in the face of gambling. Hypnotherapeutic interventions look at the client’s behaviours, emotions, thoughts, and physiological responses to and around gambling. It addresses triggers. pressures, and conditioned responses.

If gambling has become a lifestyle, it CAN be changed. Hypnotherapy can help with gambling obsessions.


Do you drink alone when you feel angry or sad?
Does your drinking ever make you late for work?
Does your drinking worry your family?
Do you ever drink after telling yourself that you won’t?
Do you get headaches or have a hangover after you have been drinking?
Are you drinking over 40 (men) / 25 units (women) of beer, wine or spirit’s a week?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a drink problem and hypnotherapy can help to solve this. Approximately 47 in 1000 adults in the UK are dependent on alcohol. When alcohol becomes a way of coping with yourself, your life, your world, it often develops from a habit into an addiction. As such it interferes with (and negatively affects) your life, your world, your being, your health!

The solution to an addiction requires self-awareness, positive aspects of self-image, new coping skills and changes – in environment, triggers and perceptions. The choice is yours.

Hair Pulling (Trichotillomania), Tooth Grinding (Bruxism), TMJD (Temperomandibular Joint Dysfunction)
These habits are often triggered by periods of either stress or boredom. They also gradually become unconscious, and are outside of personal awareness. Hypnotic relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring and habit interruption have been used very effectively in these cases.

“My hair is growing back now, and I feel so much better about myself.” T.C Hampshire

Sleep Walking

SLEEP WALKING (Somnambulism) and SLEEP TERRORS both have the potential to be dangerous conditions due to the unpredictability of the disorder. Often there is an emotional conflict involved. Hypnotherapy is particularly effective as both trance and somnambulism are subject to unconscious self-regulation. SNORING can also be automatically interrupted through hypnotic suggestion.

“I automatically wake up now the moment my foot touches the floor. No more sleepwalking……” C.T. Hampshire


Most people can remember why they started smoking. Perhaps to act “cool “, to look older, to do something when they felt uncomfortable, to fill in some time, or just to be part of a group. Smoking at one time was a solution; but before long, it became a habit, and then a problem. Smoking is like wandering into a giant maze. As soon as a person enters it their mind becomes misted and clouded and they spend the rest of their lives trying to escape from it. People smoke to feed the little monster in their body, and the big monster in their brain.

The only reason it is difficult to stop smoking is because smokers have been brainwashed. Smoking does not calm people down, pass the time, contribute to sociability, or clear the mind. In fact, everything about a cigarette is a lie, except the scientifically proven truth about how it contributes to cancer, heart disease and death. There is NOTHING to give up. The illusion is that life will never be quite as enjoyable without a cigarette; the reality is that life without a cigarette is just as enjoyable, and even more so.

Research comparing many different studies of hypnotherapy has shown that, on average, smokers are over FIVE times more likely to break the habit with hypnosis than by willpower alone. Hypnotherapy to stop smoking has also proven to be more than twice as effective compared with nicotine gum or patches. Hypnotherapy can help you find the real reason behind your habit, and then eliminate it. You will no longer be preoccupied with thoughts of how and when you will have your next cigarette. If you really want to stop smoking, one session of hypnotherapy could be all you need. You will wake up to the truth and find FREEDOM!

“I tried to stop smoking many times before, but became irritable and bad-tempered. After only one session with you it was so easy.” H.B. Basingstoke


Anxiety is one of the major components of stuttering. By learning self-hypnosis for relaxation and calm, one can gain control of their breath and their words.

Habits CAN be changed. Call me if you would like to discuss in complete confidentiality on 01488-685151.