Posts Tagged ‘Ericksonian’
The very first time we met with Milton Erickson there were just five people present: Three physicians and the two of us sitting with the awesome Dr. Erickson. A woman walked into the room with her husband. She wanted to be hypnotized so that she could comfortably pass a licensure examination free from the anxiety often generated by such a test.
Erickson asked her husband if he was a qualified professional with a degree. The husband nodded his head affirmatively and said, “I have a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering.”
Dr. Erickson’s response surprised all of us: “You’ll have to leave. Come back in an hour.” → Read more
When I visited Dr. Erickson I stayed in the bedroom in his guesthouse. I was putting away my things and I found a box on the floor of the closet containing old reel-to-reel audiotapes of Dr. Erickson’s lectures to medical audiences in the 1950s and 1960s. Remember that he was teaching to medical audiences. The audiences than did not consist primarily of psychotherapists or counselors, because there weren’t so many psychologists or counselors in the 1950s and ’60s.
I asked Dr. Erickson, “Could I listen to these old tapes and, could I put them in a more modern form so they could be preserved for history?” He agreed that I could. I started listening to one of the old lectures and it was like one long induction of hypnosis. It was curious. It was surprising. And so I asked him, “Dr. Erickson, this wasn’t really a lecture; it was like one long induction of hypnosis.” And he said to me, “Oh, Jeff, I never listen to those lectures. I didn’t teach content. I taught to motivate.” → Read more
Frigid rain peppers hard blackened snow. You continue to season my thoughts.
When I saw her in the waiting room last March I knew the lymphoma had recurred. She’d aged. Her shrunken profile barely stirred the air as she walked into my office. Undaunted, she wanted to write more of her memoir. As a Registered Poetry Therapist, I offer healing trances through spontaneous free writing and bibliotherapy, as well as hypnosis.
I met Abby several years ago in my poetry therapy group. To continue the work she began then, we agreed to meet in my office, unless the chemotherapy was debilitating, in which case we’d met at her home. → Read more
I begin all my treatments with the question: “What would you like to change today — and why?” The client M.T. answered, “I want to quit smoking because it’s bad for me.” (I find this is a staple answer for most people who are asked the same question.) I normally follow my question with a destabilization technique. This is intended to simultaneously create an increase in motivation to the point where the clients are almost demanding to be treated. It also brings about a state of confusion during which, taken aback momentarily, clients will look for coherence anywhere and therefore accept any suggestions they can understand; a little bit like clutching at a straw.
My response to M.T. was spoken quickly so he wouldn’t have a chance to analyze my words. I said, “So what? We’re always doing things that are bad for us! We don’t exercise; we don’t eat enough fiber; we don’t drink enough water; we don’t get enough rest; we load ourselves with stress, and we can change all those things whenever we want to.” → Read more
Milton H. Erickson Institute of Western Australia
In Erickson’s work I learned about treating clients as individuals, listening to their metaphors, and utilizing their resources. I also found permission to be bold, take risks, and venture beyond the restrictions of theory. However, as I have discovered many times over, my clients are my best teachers; Pat was one.
Her physician’s referral letter said she suffered severe insomnia following hospital admission for minor surgery twelve months earlier. Pat, a middle-aged ethnic Chinese, said, “I’ve lost my soul.” Previous therapy failed to bring relief. According to her metaphor, a person’s soul leaves the body when asleep and, if not reunited, can cause both physical and emotional distress, including insomnia. → Read more
This is about a dream and an image. The client, Lydia, is dreaming about her youth in Mexico and when she tries to talk, worms come out of her mouth instead of words. In the dream, Lydia’s father sits and chats with his mother, Lydia’s abuela. Mother and son have sought refuge from the implacable midday Jalisco sun by setting their chairs in the shade, close to the doors that open into the bedroom where Lydia, her brother, and her sister are having their siesta.
The girl’s bedroom doors have been left ajar and the snuffling, groaning sounds of incest leak out, suspended in the parched, salt-laced ocean of summer air. Lydia’s grandmother and her father shift slightly in their elaborately carved, ladder-back chairs. Their conversational hum rises in volume, seeming to absorb sounds produced by Lydia, her younger brother, and her older sister, as each is molested in turn by their uncle.
Note: Joe was not a “usual” client. Highly motivated, in therapy at exactly the right time, he believed life was good, and the therapy fit his paradigm perfectly. Even though it is not common that everything works so well, the concepts and ideas used in this case can be useful in many situations.
Joe walked into the office with a diffident yet paradoxically firm attitude. A handsome 32-year-old, he had never had a long-term relationship. He used to start out just fine, he said, but after having sex a few times, he would lose his erection half-way through. As time went on, he would lose his erection more quickly. Now he couldn’t even get one at the beginning of an encounter. Worse, he was starting to choose people who were not his type, who drank too much or had no ambition. He was sure the two problems were related.
My wife, Jennifer, is not a big traveler, but she has always wanted to go to Alaska to see the wildlife. So in the summer of 2015, we signed up with National Geographic/Lindblad and went for two wonderful weeks. Jennifer is a hospice nurse, and what makes the story interesting is that for many years if you asked her how someday, she would like to die, her answer was that she would like to be eaten by orcas—those magnificent creatures sometimes called “killer whales,” even though they are actually oceanic dolphins. She had recurring but not frightening dreams of a big orca devouring her—she had talked about it several times. And here I was, signing up to be in a two-person kayak in Alaskan waters teeming with orcas with someone who wants to be eaten alive! → Read more
Stone carving transformed my life of chronic pain, depression, and drug dependency into a life of renewed vitality with the ability to work, dance, and feel whole again.
After 25 years of working as an emergency room physician, I underwent several back surgeries, which resulted in many hours of physical therapy and treatments with never-ending pain and limited mobility; my life was reduced to bed rest and hot baths. So, I pursued several treatment options, including tapping into my creativity as a way of healing chronic pain. → Read more
There are times a distressed individual is desperate to communicate with others yet cannot. Such was the case of 14-year old Michael.
Michael’s therapist, Anita, addressed his failing grades, defiant behavior, drug use, and emotional outbursts. She reflected on his concern that homosexuals are treated unfairly. He’d been prescribed Concerta and Paxil. Nothing was helping. Anita wanted me to test him for learning disabilities. → Read more