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Should You Try Therapy to Learn How to Quit Smoking?

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Do you want to quit smoking, but don’t know where to start? One treatment that might be worth considering is cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people change their behavior, by helping them manage their emotions and problem solve,” said J. Ryan Fuller, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and executive director of New York Behavioral Health in New York City. Having those skills may be beneficial when you’re trying to fight cravings and avoid triggers.

The Pros and Cons of Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Learn How to Quit Smoking

Pro: Therapy helps you deal with tough situations.

Certain triggers may cause your cravings to rev up. For some people, those triggers might be social situations, like spending time around friends who smoke. “With cognitive behavioral therapy, we want to give people the coping skills to deal with these triggers,” Fuller said. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you develop ways to handle difficult situations, like telling yourself, “This moment is temporary,” or telling a friend who is over, “I would appreciate if you could step outside at my place when you smoke.”

Con: The price of therapy may be high.

“The downsides of cognitive behavioral therapy are time and money,” Fuller said. “If it’s good cognitive behavioral therapy, it’s likely not cheap, and you’ll have to spend time in an office.” Because of this, it’s important to check with your insurance company to see if your particular plan covers therapy. If a lack of time is your biggest struggle, it might be worth looking into telemedicine options, especially as digital therapy grows in popularity.

Pro: Therapy can help you get into a healthy routine.

If you’ve recently stopped smoking, you might not be feeling so great. “When you quit, you may have difficulty concentrating and sleeping, so with therapy, we want to help people find ways to cope with that stress of stopping,” Fuller said. Therapy can help people achieve a better lifestyle balance — like making time for exercise, improved nutrition choices, and keeping their minds engaged — all things that may help the quitting process.

Con: Therapy is not for everyone.

Some people have an aversion to therapy, particularly from an emotional standpoint, according to Fuller. For example, they may worry that a therapist will delve into their past or their emotional reasons for smoking. If that’s a concern for you, though, know this: “There are psychologists and psychiatrists who provide therapy that’s practical and technical, and geared specifically toward smoking cessation,” Fuller said. So, while therapy may not be right for everyone, there could be a therapist who’s the right fit for you.

Pro: Therapy can become part of a quitting treatment plan.

While therapy may help you handle social situations better and become familiar with coping strategies, adding a nicotine replacement option to your treatment plan can help address the physical sensation of nicotine cravings. One nicotine replacement option: The NicoDerm CQ Nicotine Patch, which provides long-lasting and discreet craving relief1 over 24 hours.

1 Craving relief associated with quitting smoking. Individual results vary.

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