Ericksonian Hypnotherapy

Introduction

The late Dr. Milton H. Erickson is often seen as the father of (modern) Clinical Hypnotherapy, and his many direct and conversational approaches give practitioners from a wide variety of different therapeutic approaches the chance to explore pieces of his methods.

Building up a recognition and appreciation of the basic tenets and principles of hypnotherapy offers a flexible set of tools and techniques designed to make sure a client has the ability to find the best possible strategies for their personal development and self-actualization.

Background

Unlike some of the standard hypnotic techniques, which may at times be effectively applied in a rather mechanical fashion, Dr. Erickson’s extraordinary interventions demand a thorough understanding of both their spirit and their letter.

They are variations on the themes of the professional psychotherapist, who is productive within the subjective contexts established by himself and his patient. In the hands of practitioners who are not aware of the detail-by-detail tailoring that makes these techniques essentially Ericksonian, such interventions may easily have little or no productive effect and may even create the conditions for a profound but misguided and even dangerous alteration of a patient’s life view.

Milton H. Erickson, M.D. (1901-1980), is generally acknowledged to be the founding thinker and leading practitioner in the field of modern hypnotherapy.

His astonishing success as a therapist and his many innovative and evocative constructions of the hypnotic interaction have generated both an immense following of grateful students and an overwhelming number of disillusioned and befuddled ones. Dr. Erickson was a genius, and genius is both mysterious and frightening to most of us.

Therefore, some confusion is not to be unexpected. However, most discussions about Dr. Erickson are generally not informed by a true understanding of his significant contributions to the art and practices of psychotherapy as well as hypnotherapy. This book is an attempt to rectify this state of affairs.

These chapters provide not only a review and analysis of Dr. Erickson’s therapeutic strategies and signature techniques, but also a historical and theoretical context for the methods that made him, and have kept him, a legend in his own time.

Key Principles

Bandler and Grinder’s work with NLP provides a basis for understanding that we can learn and unlearn from any aspect of our subconscious, beyond our conscious awareness. Rather than feeling that the hypnotist possesses superior knowledge about what is happening in the client’s mind, often the individual will know and have the resources within them to change their experience. It is their conscious mind that may hold inhibitions or misconceptions that need challenging.

No particular state is curated by the hypnotherapist, rather hypnosis is seen as a potentially useful state where new learning and perspectives may be entertained.

This is a subtle change from traditional models which focus on trance induction and deepening as a means of establishing a distinct state of ‘hypnosis’.

The principle of state dependence also suggests that the client can access resources, learnings, techniques and solutions without being in hypnosis, as long as the same contextual cues are present. There is a strong focus on utilizing a client’s preferred state for therapeutic effect.

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