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Neuro Linguistic Programming and Smoking Cessation

A comment from one of our regular visitors got me thinking.

I wrote a piece about smoking cessation and Elle remarked that she intended to visit a local hypnotherapist because he seemed to be properly qualified.

Hmm, I thought. What exactly does properly qualified mean?

Well, the first place to start might be a quick Google search, so that’s what I did. I Googled his name, and came up with a website called, of all things, Ready Steady Stop — Stop Smoking in 1 Hour.

You don’t believe me?

Here it is.

See that?

One hour and you’ve stopped smoking.

Here’s what the site says:

With the official smoking ban now in place, Ready Steady Stop, a group of therapists specialising in hypnotherapy and neuro linguistic programming have a message for those who want to quit the weed: Give us an hour and we’ll give you your life back.

And this group of therapists confirm that fear is the overriding factor preventing smokers from resisting the ban and quitting: fear of cravings; fear of putting on weight; fear of the trauma of quitting and fear of not being able to enjoy life without smoking.

Ready Steady Stop comprises three London-trained therapists based in Donegal, Wicklow and Limerick who use the best of traditional hypnotherapy techniques combined with the new science of NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) a technique which has successfully treated over hundreds of smokers since its introduction a couple of years ago. The treatment offers a 95% success rate with a free backup session for the other 5%.

Give us an hour and we’ll give you your life back. And look carefully. These are no ordinary therapists, but London-trained ones. London-trained therapists, who have treated over hundreds of smokers. I don’t know what the relevance of training in London is. Do you?

Here’s their picture from the website:

The man standing at the back is James Jameson. Here’s his website. You’ll notice that James claims no qualifications recognised by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) or any Irish professional body recognised in law.

He claims to hold an Advanced Diploma in Hypnotherapy, to be a member of the Association of Registered Complementary Health Therapists of Ireland and to be a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

Let’s go through the list. James doesn’t tell us where he acquired his Advanced Diploma in Hypnotherapy, but not to worry. As we”ll find out shortly, should you desire to have an Advanced Diploma in Hypnotherapy, you too can be as qualified as James, and it will take you no more than a few weekends. American distance-learning institutions are very accommodating in providing this sort of intensive training.

I don’t know what the Association of Registered Complementary Health Therapists of Ireland is, but I do know that a complementary therapist is, by definition, somebody who does not practise medicine but tries to make you better some other way. In other words, not a doctor, or a psychiatrist or a psychologist holding registration with any officially-recognised Irish professional body.

So who are they registered with?

Private organisations without official accreditation. That’s who. Private companies.

James also claims to be a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, so let’s be clear about something. Neuro-Linguistic Programming is bullshit. When you read further down his web page, you’ll see that this is something that can be acquired over a few weekends from a dubious American diploma-mill.

Did you ever notice how fond these complementary practitioners are of scientific-sounding words? Jameson claims to practise something he calls Energy Psychology, which is an utterly meaningless term but which might, I imagine, impress a vulnerable person. After all, words like Energy and Psychology are among the most abused in the entire English language. I’d wager that not one person you challenge would be able to give you a defensible definition of the word energy, and that includes James Jameson. Why? Because energy is not a concept that can be defined outside the realm of physics. When used in other contexts, it has as much precision as the notion of niceness, or attractiveness. How sexy are you? We’ll measure it with this stupid machine.

These people love bullshit.

Listen to this:

In addition to his hypnotherapy qualifications James is also qualified to practice and teach the incredible, newly emerging Energy Psychology approaches.

Incredible? Absolutely. It isn’t credible.

Newly emerging? Certainly: he just made it up.

Energy psychology? An utterly meaningless term.

So James is qualified to teach bullshit? Good for him. I’d have expected no less.

Pseudo-science. Pseudo-technology. Pseudo-therapy.


Now, what about the woman sitting down? Well, that would be Mary Mitchell. Mary claims to be trained as a hypnotherapist with the Institute of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy. She doesn’t claim to have any qualifications — just training — but she does claim to be certified by something called the American Board of Hypnotherapy, and I’ll tell you more about that shortly, when we move on to the final member of the group. A search in the US Department of Education database of accredited institutions does not reveal an institution of this name. A search of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation database likewise does not return a result.

HETAC does not accredit the Institute of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy and I suspect it has little formal standing in this country. Unfortunately, the link to Mary’s website is no longer functioning, and so we’re a little hampered in discovering more about her qualifications, but let’s not be too downhearted. We can still look at the Institute of Clinical Hypnotherapy after all, and maybe we can deduce some things.

A glance at the ICHP website shows the various levels of courses offered.

Level 1 takes place over five weekends and costs €500.

Level 2 costs €1000 and takes place over six weekends.

Level 3 takes five weekends but no price is given.

So there you have it. Thirty-two days and you’re a highly qualified therapist, able to charge as much as a doctor who may have studied for six or seven years and spent another seven in internships and registrar jobs. Thirty-two days. Not bad, is it?

Good girl, Mary. I’m beginning to realise I made a huge mistake in studying for years when I could have studied for weeks and made a lot more money.

Finally, we have the individual on the right. Derry O Malley.

Now, Derry O Malley, according to the website, trained for two years with the Irish Institute of Counselling and Hypnotherapy (IICH), and he’s also a member of that organisation. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any registration for this institution and no organisation of this name is accredited by any official body that I have been able to discover.

The website of IICH Training states that it’s the accredited training division of the Irish Institute of Counselling and Hypnotherapy, but when I wrote to them, they told me that the word accredited shouldn’t have been on the website. It should have said approved instead. I have asked them who issues the approval, and if they tell me, I’ll let you know. I notice that their web site has been down for the last week or so, possibly as a result of my query, but luckily, you can still visit their pages here.

This is how they explain neuro-linguistic programming:


What is it?
NLP is short for Neuro Linguistic Programming.


NLP has studied how the mind works, with verifiable and sometimes astonishing results.

Neuro: Nervous system through which experience is received then processed through the five senses.

Linguistic: Language and non-verbal communication systems through which neural representations are coded, ordered and given meaning.

Programming: the ability to organize our communication and neurological systems to achieve specific, desired goals and results.


If you look carefully at this statement, you will see that it means absolutely nothing while at the same time managing to sound impressively scientific. For complete clarity, I need to say at this point that NLP is a pseudo-science with no reputable research to support it and no coherent scientific basis. In other words, it’s waffle, calculated to overwhelm vulnerable people who might be impressed by scientific-sounding terms. Therefore, any organisation claiming to base its therapies on NLP immediately sets alarm bells ringing.

Now, the Irish Institute of Counselling and Hypnotherapy doesn’t appear to have any status other than its own claim to legitimacy. It is not registered as an educational organisation with any Irish accrediting body that I have been able to discover.

In other words, I could set up something called the Irish Institute of Energy Realignment and Wellness Therapy, and I could sell qualifications to you over the internet that would have just as much validity as anything you’d buy from the Irish Institute of Counselling and Hypnotherapy.

Meanwhile, back in Limerick.

According to his website, Derry O Malley is licensed to practise NLP by the Society of Neuro Linguistic Programme (sic). I haven’t been able to find an organisation of that name, or indeed of any similar name, and I’m not aware that a licence issued by it has any officially-recognised status in this country.

The website tells us that he is certified by the American Board of Hypnotherapy, so I had a look at their website. They very helpfully provide a list of trainers around the world, and when I searched for Irish trainers, I was in luck. Success Partners run a course over five weekends and if I sign up for that I can become an NLP practitioner and the American Board of Hypnotherapy will certify me.

How do I achieve this?

The course takes five weekends, or alternatively, I can take the accelerated course, which takes a full week. Seven full days of study.

Either way, I’ll get my cert and I too can say that I’m certified by the American Board of Hypnotherapy

So then I started to wonder, what exactly do these people claim to be?

Are they medical practitioners?

No. What they do isn’t medicine, and they are not doctors.

Maybe they’re counsellors?

Well, the National Counselling Institute of Ireland is the appropriate professional body there.

According to their website, to be accredited as a member of the Institute one must hold a minimum qualification at degree level or higher in a counselling related discipline. Those at degree level must be HETAC accredited (or within the National Framework of Qualifications) or have their counselling degree covered by the BOLOGNA treaty.

Unfortunately, the folks at Ready Steady Stop don’t claim to have degrees in anything, and so on the face of it would not qualify for membership of the NCII.

I’m at a loss to know what independently-awarded qualifications they possess except those asserted by themselves.

Let’s be clear. In the end we all deal with our own problems. Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a nonsense concept, and anyone who parts with money on the strength of it is being extremely foolish.

If you want to quit smoking, and you decide to visit the people associated with Ready Steady Stop, just remember that you’d probably have just as much success quitting if you simply stopped buying and lighting cigarettes.

It’s that easy. Trust me.



12th October 2009

The IICH website seems to be defunct, which is a pity.  It’s closed down.  This website is deceased.  It’s an ex-website.  In fact, it doesn’t seem possible to contact the Irish Instituute for Counselling and Hypnotherapy at all, and this must surely be a great loss to the world at large.

Luckily, the IICH is still listed with the Companies Registration Office, and therefore, at great cost, I bring you the folowing details.

Registered office: 118 Stillorgan Rd, Dublin 4


Sean Collins


Corrig Rd

Dun Laoghaire

Rhoda Draper

118 Stillorgan Road

Dublin 4

Rhoda is also listed as a director of the Association for Thought Field Therapy.  Rhoda Draper B.A., Dip.C.H., TFT Dx is an expert in Thought Field Therapy and a member of the board of the Association for Thought Field Therapy.

I don’t know what a Dip.C.H is.  Do you?

I don’t know what a TFT Dx is, for that matter, but you can buy it here for $125 which seems reasonable enough.

The Thought Field Therapy website is HERE.

The chairman of the board is Founder and developer of the Callahan Techniques® Thought Field Therapy.

Roger J. Callahan, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Syracuse University.

Dr. Callahan is author of It Can Happen to You: The Practical Guide to Romantic Love

Thought Field Therapy is based on Callahan’s belief that our thoughts form electromagnetic fields around our bodies which can be manipulated by tapping ourselves at various strategic locations. These fields’ behaviour would not conform with the characteristics of any electromagnetic field known to science.

No reliable research has been published in support of Callahan’s TFT belief system.  No double-blind tests.  No control groups.  No analysis.

Even more strangely, Callahan’s own webite contains the following disclaimer:

The self-help products recommended on this web site are for the purpose of reducing fears, stress and various associated daily problems only. They are not intended as treatment or prescription for any disease, mental or physical, or as a substitute for regular medical or psychological care.

So there you have it.  Thought Field Therapy is not a treatment.

[Oxford English Dictionary:
• noun pl. therapies

1.treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder.
2. the treatment of mental or psychological disorders by psychological means.]

So it’s a treatment. Let’s decide that.

Rhoda claims no training in physics, chemistry or any of the hard sciences,

Despite this, she employs TFT to treat people at the  Ardagh Clinic with Sean Collins who holds a modular doctorate from the American Institute of Hypnotherapy.

I’ll provide full background on this institute in due course.  It certainly seems rigorous.  According to Sean’s website, the course required studying a wide range of relevant texts and developing a 20-30 page academic paper.

Imagine that.  Having to write all of 30 pages to get a PhD.

Sean’s site also explains that the American institute of Hypnotherapy was subsequently taken over by the American Pacific University, which is not necessarily something I’d be advertising, but then again, I’m a traditionalist, believing that a degree should be awarded following a rigorous course of study.

Call me old-fashioned.

According to their website, Rhoda and Sean believe that their treatment may significantly contribute towards recovery prospects by boosting immune function and giving better quality of life.

Not “will”, you understand.


This means that neither Rhoda nor Sean are making any false claims for their Key-Model treatment, which desperately-worried cancer patients sign up for.  Their blurb explains that the Key Model is based on research at universities around the world and also here in Ireland, though it doesn’t provide details of this research or of its outcomes.


See also:

Cat registered as hypnotherapist