Home PageBlogBook Review: The Induction of Hypnosis: An Ericksonian Elicitation Approach

By Jeffrey K. Zeig

Reviewed By: C. Alexander Simpkins, Ph.D., and Annellen Simpkins, Ph.D.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 59 seconds

Jeffrey Zeig is the Founder and Director of the Milton H. Erickson Foundation. He travels worldwide, teaching, lecturing, supervising, organizing conferences, writing, and working tirelessly to promote Ericksonian hypnosis and psychotherapy. This book is an outgrowth of his profound wisdom about eliciting hypnosis. Zeig humbly states that his book is one more interpretation of Dr. Erickson he hopes will add to the literature. With his deep understanding, penetrating analysis, and years of experience, The Induction of Hypnosis does far more. Although he restricts the scope of the book to eliciting (inducing) hypnosis, Zeig actually offers many general principles to use for hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. One of the key ideas is eliciting rather than inducing hypnosis. Instead of simply offering scripts and directives (as there are plenty of protocols to follow), Zeig gently leads readers to approach and embrace a subtler way of bringing about hypnosis through an individualized, implicit response from the client.

The book consists of 12 chapters, crystallizing a wide range of topics. It begins with a warm, personal history of how Zeig came to study with Erickson, eventually developing a deep, respectful love of the man and his work. Next, is a brief, exacting overview of the Erickson Foundation, from which Erickson’s work spread worldwide. We are introduced to a genealogy of the contemporary expressions of Ericksonian approaches, both Neo-Ericksonian and adapted variations.

Zeig is careful to define Erickson’s work as psychotherapeutic, not just hypnotic. Frequently, Erickson did not work with patients in a formal trance but instead offered his interventions from a hypnotic perspective. Zeig provides a succinct and fascinating distillation of the ingredients of traditional hypnosis and compares it with Erickson’s elicitation approach.

Hypnosis involves changing the state of the subject. This is especially useful for psychotherapy, which can be viewed as helping the client to change state — from a problematic state to an adaptive one. All the communications of the hypnotist are intended to elicit this change in state. Zeig takes a phenomenological view of hypnosis, delineating the component experiences involved that will bring about a state of implicit responsiveness.

Zeig distinguishes between “informative” and “evocative” communication. Bateson first introduced the idea of multilevel communication, and Erickson developed it into a fine art. Zeig describes in great detail how to elicit implicit responsiveness to minimal cues and ways to guide associations toward therapeutic goals. He also provides general principles of eliciting conditions useful for therapy, such as confusion and destabilization. And, he includes many clarifying lists of behaviors that constellate hypnosis.

The chapter on language forms is rich and deep and includes unconscious expectancies, along with expertly crafted varieties of suggestive communications to elicit hypnotic goals. Finally, in the last chapter, Zeig describes the ARE (Absorb, Ratify, Elicit) model, used to create an opportunity for client discoveries. This chapter offers a clear and useful outline of this powerful model. Zeig and Brent Geary use ARE to organize the principles and methods for the Erickson Foundation’s Intensive Training Program.

We highly recommend this book for students and professionals at many different levels. You will find entertaining stories, evocative metaphors, tight theories, and both specific and non-specific techniques to elicit your resources and help you activate client change. With multiple levels of meanings in every chapter, The Induction of Hypnosis can be read and reread for helpful insights.

The Induction of Hypnosis is part of The Empowering Experiential Therapy Series, which can be found here.


This book review has been extracted from Volume 34, Issue No. 3 of The Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter.

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