The following is an excerpt from the Erickson biography. It was taken from a document Ron Alexander, Ph.D., sent to Jeff Zeig in 2015.
In 1976, Alexander phoned Erickson at the beginning of the week, asking him if he would consult on a personal medical problem. The holistic treatments Alexander tried had not been successful. During that phone call, Erickson asked Alexander to call him back the next day, sharply at 9 a.m. The following days, Erickson asked Alexander to do the same thing: Call him the following day promptly at 9 a.m. Alexander was perplexed, but each day that week he did as Erickson asked. And after each request, Erickson said, “And don’t be late.” On Friday, Erickson finally invited Alexander to Phoenix for the consultation. → Read more
As part of their therapy, my father would often give his patients “jobs” to do. The jobs were highly varied. Often one could easily see how the assigned job was a necessary first step for a patient to take in order to heal his or her problem. For example, over the years, my father had several women patients who believed they were so homely no man would ever want to marry them. My father had one woman go to the bus station (at the time, the major port of entry into Phoenix) and for three days meet all the arriving buses. She was instructed to watch for people more homely than herself and observe if they had a husband either greeting them or traveling with them. Of course, she found many and was very happy at her next appointment. → Read more
When I was a child, my father was attending graduate school at USC, working toward his doctorate in educational psychology. Each time he would learn a new theory, he’d enthusiastically come home and try to apply it with my younger brother and me. It was kind of hit-and-miss in terms of efficacy, but we seemed to have turned out okay.
One of the things I notice in retrospect is how, as he grew in experience, his understanding of these theories, and application of that understanding, became more fluid, more nuanced as he shifted from learning to knowing. When he first started studying under Erickson, it felt (from my admittedly limited perspective) that Dad’s focus was on acquiring techniques: How do you tell a story? What tone and cadence of voice and choice of words do you use to help the client slide into a trance state to best facilitate an induction? → Read more
Almost exactly 50 years ago, shortly after I moved out and was living at college, I successfully played a practical joke on my dad. However, in a way the joke is on me because I learned a great deal about my father during the course of this practical joke.
I had a kind of contest with my older sister, Betty Alice. We would carefully go through whatever was published about or published by my father to see if either of our names were mentioned. Of course, if we saw our name in an article or book we would “hold” it over the other until the facts changed and the next article was published. → Read more
Vladimir Zelinka: Could you please talk about the role creativity plays in your therapy?
Jeff Zeig: I am creative in my therapy because I want my patients to be creatively empowered. If you are living creatively, then you are leading a fulfilling life with meaning.
The therapist can be in a creative state to mirror, model, and demonstrate that therapy becomes a reference experience for creative living. A medicalized procedure follows an algorithmic path to achieve a stated goal. But therapy is a heuristic process, a creative innovation for being a better person. → Read more
For two years, teachers from the Milton H. Erickson Institute of the San Francisco Bay Area have conducted masters degree classes in strategic family therapy and Ericksonian hypnosis at Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno (UAGRM), the largest Bolivian university. Recently, it was my turn to teach.
After the first class I conducted, two women, who were part of a group of six close friends who attended the courses, approached me. One spoke for the other: “She is afraid to drink water, afraid to bathe or shower in water.” I replied, “I have little time to talk. I have a meeting in a few minutes.” I asked the spokeswoman, “What does she drink?” “Tea?” “No!” “Does she drink milk?” “Oh, yes!” I turned to the silent woman, “Here’s what I want you to do: When you go home today, take a bath in milk. → Read more
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The following is taken from Herbert Mann’s contribution to the Erickson biography:
“Nobody had the dynamic personality that Erickson had. When Erickson got on the stage, you could hear a pin drop. There was an air of expectancy. His manner of speech, the way he looked at an audience with piercing eyes, and then, of course, there was his knowledge…There was something about the way he looked at the audience and concentrated on each individual…his demonstrations seemed almost magical. → Read more
Dr. Lentz is the Director of the Ericksonian Institute of Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Pastor of Radcliff Presbyterian Church. He is the retired Chief Chaplain of the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women and Adjunct Professor of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
It has been my experience that Dr. Erickson’s work has helped many people in ministry. While the following are personal experiences and observations, I believe they are representative of how people from a faith perspective are drawn to Erickson’s work. I’m grateful to be sharing these experiences with you to highlight Erickson’s impact on my approach to ministry and counseling. → Read more
This is an excerpt extracted from Volume 3 of The Collected Works of Milton H. Erickson and highlights one of the many brilliant conversations Milton Erickson and Ernest Rossi shared together. All the volumes of The Collected Works of Milton H. Erickson are available at our online store.
Rossi: So your hypnotherapy is almost the exact opposite of most conventional hypnotic approaches. Other hypnotherapists believe they have to specify exactly what the patient is supposed to do. But you just open a patient up to knowledge that is within, together with new life experiences, rather than trying to program him with your version of how you believe he ought to behave.
Erickson: Too many hypnotherapists take you out to dinner and then tell you what to order. I take a patient out to a psychotherapeutic dinner and I say, “You give your order.” The patient makes his own selection of the food he wants. He is not hindered by my instructions, which would only obstruct and confuse his inner process. → Read more
I recently had a short but effective experience with Dr. Greenleaf that impacted me both personally and professionally.
At the end of a workshop on hypnotherapy, I asked Dr. Greenleaf if he could help relieve my symptoms of allergic rhinitis with hypnotherapy. This condition caused me a lot of discomfort because I could not breathe freely during the workshop exercises. He kindly told me that he did not have enough time for a full session, but he did offer some suggestions. → Read more