By Rick Landis
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 41 seconds
I remember Dr. Erickson telling me that it was both important to trust the unconscious and at the same time to make sure that the unconscious was regularly fed with new and interesting learnings so it had even more with which to work. This became evident to me while I was showing some students how to use hypnosis to potentiate EMDR’s effectiveness. I had been demonstrating a metaphor of physical healing to stimulate emotional healing when a student interrupted asking how I got my ideas for my metaphors. Since I naturally go into my own trance while I am doing metaphor work, his question inadvertently triggered a deep search within me. Instantly, I was transported to Dr. Erickson’s kitchen where we were discussing one of our favorite topics: What does it mean to be human?
Because of Dr. Erickson’s training and expertise as a physician as well as a psychologist, he had been fascinated with physiological components that effected our emotional functioning and wellbeing. He really did not seem to separate the physical from the emotional. He seemed to intuitively be aware of mind/body interconnections that would take 25 more years to become scientific truths. For example, he seemed to know that physical and emotional pain had overlapping processes. Treat one and you affected the other.
In that altered state stimulated by the student’s question, I heard Dr. Erickson say, “Emotionally we already have all that we need to heal in the same way that a scraped knee knows how to heal the wound. It just needs the right protection while healing and to not mess with it too much.”
I now see the source of my healing metaphor lies deep within that conversation with Dr. Erickson.
While the metaphor trance healing I used actually lasted forty-five minutes, the following excerpt is a core echo from that moment in Dr. Erickson’s kitchen:
The body heals hurts in interesting ways. As a child, we all have had the experience of tripping and scraping our knee. Sometimes we do not immediately notice the hurt because we are more aware of the shock and surprise. But later it starts to hurt like a son-of-a-gun. And the body knows how to heal itself. It will automatically cover the hurt with a protective covering. And under the scab healing will occur. When sufficient healing has been accomplished and the protective cover is no longer necessary, it will fall off all on its own accord.
Once the old wound is presented to the healing sunlight, it can look perfectly normal. And if you look closely, there are some very tiny scars. The body knows that these scars are stronger than regular skin. And it knows that if we fell and scraped our knee in just that way, there is a possibility that we will fall in a similar way until we learn to fall in a safer way. So we may need to have that area protected and made stronger so it can heal faster and be more resilient.
Even 28 years after his death, I continue to discover the learnings Dr. Erickson gave me.
This excerpt has been extracted from Volume 27, Issue No. 3 of The Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter.
Tags: Acceptance, case study, Erickson, Erickson Foundation, Ericksonian, Focus, Healing, hypnosis, Implication, LAMFT, LCSW, LICSW, LMFT, LMHC, LPC, MDIV, Meaning, Mental Health, Metaphor, Milton H. Erickson, Pain, Performance, phd, psychiatrist, Psychologist, psychology, psychotherapist, psychotherapy, PsyD, story, Technique, therapy, Trance, Utilization