Home PageBlogBook Review: Evocation: Enhancing the Psychotherapeutic Encounter

By Jeffrey K. Zeig, Ph.D.

Reviewed by John D. Lentz D. Min

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 27 seconds

With a foreword written by Erving Polster, readers can anticipate that Jeffrey Zeig has created yet another useful and cutting-edge book for psychotherapists. Not only will you learn how to evocatively communicate, but you will also discover truths about psychotherapy and communication that will be useful in your clinical practice.

The book includes five sections with references and an index. The first section is about the components of evocative therapy. Zeig explains how the use of metaphor is part of evocative communication. I especially liked the material on mood and emotions.

The next section offers transcripts of Milton Erickson using evocative communication in his interventions. Zeig’s commentary throughout helps make the magic of Erickson more accessible and understandable. Even though I have read about most of the events transcribed, the interventions in this book come alive in ways they had not in the past. I especially like Zeig’s take on multilevel communication.

The third section teaches therapist states. Zeig states, “The best way for therapists to achieve a therapist state is with role play and practice.” (p. 141) He then offers exercises and transcripts of his case studies illustrating the interventions. I’ve taught the types of interventions and exercises that Zeig offers and my students loved the personalized learning. The exercises elicit in students the targeted therapeutic states, but the learnings are different for each student.

The fourth section of the book includes a list of structured exercises, similar to the ones Zeig offers in his book, Psychoaerobics (2015). In this book, however, he invites the reader to become more personally and professionally aware of and capable of eliciting emotional states. There are exercises that use analogy and metaphor to teach empathy and others that teach the state of being analogic, which is a useful tool. Each exercise focuses on a single orientation so that readers can practice building therapeutic “muscles” toward that orientation. Not only are these exercises helpful in psychotherapy, but they also teach us skills that are useful in life.

In the fifth section, and afterward, Zeig encourages us to find harmony when using these tools in practice. At the end of the book, he even has a wonderful set of exercises that help you become efficient at using an analogy, metaphor, and other linguistic devices.

I found this book enjoyable and readable, offering perspectives that bring about new thinking and specific tools that can be beneficial in practice. I was even more impressed with Zeig because it is obvious that he put a lot of effort and thought into developing the exercises. I look forward to rereading this book and incorporating the gems of wisdom it offers into my practice and everyday life.

Evocation: Enhancing the Psychotherapeutic Encounter is the final part of The Empowering Experiential Therapy Series, which can be found here.

 

This book review has been extracted from Volume 39, Issue No. 2 of The Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter.

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