Posts Tagged ‘Metaphor’
Sue was a 27-year-old, single woman who was intelligent and valued self-awareness. She came to therapy after her roommate told her that she needed therapy because she was “far too rational to be real.” She was able to see everyone’s perspective and rarely got angry. Sue had recently broken up with Clay, a boyfriend of three years after she had walked in on him having intimate relations with his secretary in his office. Sue admitted being hurt and feeling betrayed. However, she quickly was able to rationalize his infidelity by citing his difficult childhood and that the secretary was pretty. She genuinely felt sad for him because she thought he would never be able to have a monogamous relationship. I was beginning to understand why her roommate was concerned.
Physically, Sue was suffering from several different but related gastrointestinal disorders and severe tension headaches that seemed to “come out of nowhere.” When I asked if she were happy, Sue replied, “I am satisfied, but I couldn’t actually say ‘happy’.” → Read more
Pictured: From L to R Carl Whitaker, John Weakland, Jay Haley and Carlos Sluzki
The following was presented by Jay Haley in December 1980 at the First International Congress on Ericksonian Approaches to Hypnosis and Psychotherapy:
I have published my views of Erickson’s therapy extensively, but to me he remains a mysterious person. In hundreds of hours talking together, I explored his life and work; yet I know him less well than other men I have associated with more briefly. Having learned many of his therapy techniques, I applied them in my practice and teaching. Not a day passes that I do not use something that I learned from Erickson in my work.
Erickson was by no means secretive about his work…For many years he gave seminars and workshops to large audiences in this country and abroad. He wrote over one hundred publications. Thousands of visitors came to talk with him, individually and in groups. His lectures, demonstrations, and conversations have been recorded more than those of any other clinician. He gave generously of himself and his knowledge to anyone who was interested. Although Erickson liked to show you that you still had much to learn, he did not attempt to be mysterious or obscure. Often, he was frustrated when his ideas were only partially understood…I don’t know how many times over the years I asked him why he did something in therapy, and he answered, “That’s obvious.” I would say, “Milton, it’s not obvious,” and I pursued him only to find a new and unexpected complexity in his thinking.
Mildred, a fifty-five-year-old woman, was referred for therapy after the death of her husband of 29 years. She finds herself immobilized, unable to make decisions about the slightest facet of her life. Mildred describes herself as depressed about her inability to solve problems. She is unable to leave a job she didn’t feel was challenging; undecided whether to sell her home or keep it, frustrated because she wants to change banks and doesn’t have the energy; bewildered about what to do with her old, but wonderful dog; and concerned because her children want to borrow money for a down-payment on a new home. In as much as she has always been self-sufficient, she finds the inability to make a decision or take any action debilitating to her self-confidence and lifestyle.
Mildred appears confused, lethargic, mildly depressed, and in need of some motivation to move her forward with her life. She describes herself as “helpless” because of her inability to make decisions. → Read more
Ericksonian Integrative Medical Institute of Orange County Orange, CaliforniaEstimated Reading Time: 3 minutes, 36 seconds
We are often presented with a patient who complains of what appears to be mild depression or general fatigue. Both of these terms have significant overlap, and in reality they may be difficult to distinguish. Fatigue may actually lead to depression or visa versa. About 25% of the general population will experience a symptom profile consistent with fatigue and/or depression. The symptoms can be insidious. They gradually build up into what feels like concrete blocks, impeding health, or compromising resilience. After a while these symptoms may become familiar to patients and a level of resignation may appear. “Maybe this is just who I am.”
We as healers use our tools to intervene, be it CBT, hypnosis, or other forms of psychotherapy. But try as we may, for a specific patient we may reach a ceiling (and sometimes not a good foundation) with our treatment. We all have had such a patient for which our typical interventions do not appear adequate. We discuss with the patients their motivations, tap into their environmental and social systems, or refer them for medication consultation. And yet it still feels like an uphill battle. → Read more
I am from Argentina, and my first encounter with hypnosis was watching Tusam, a stage hypnotist who swallowed glass and put a dog in trance.
I was the executive director of MRI when we added Ericksonian hypnosis to our international externship program. Dr. Eric Greenleaf became our teacher. Later, after leaving MRI, I consulted with his institute. I translated courses and trances, but I had never been in trance. Hypnosis scared me. → 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
It was September 2001. Diego, a young boy, told his mom that he was not hungry because his tummy was full. All of a sudden, he doubled over in pain. Upon medical examination, they discovered Diego had a five-pound tumor beside his stomach. The tumor was a Rabdomiosarcoma, an aggressive, fast-growing form of sarcoma.
Diego’s life changed dramatically. No more school, no friends. Lots of new words to learn: cancer, biopsies, chemotherapy, catheters, radiotherapy, metastasis cells, surgery, etc. Diego was confused, angry, sad, worried, and very scared. → 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.