Posts Tagged ‘psychotherapist’
Edgar, a child of five, is the oldest son of a marriage that has lived with great economic and family pressures. The mother began going to therapy two years ago for her distress because of her pregnancy. She left treatment. A short while later, she asked for an emergency appointment. She told me by phone that she had just gotten Edgar out of the hospital, and he did not want to return home because he was afraid of his father who, in an attack of fury and impatience, had hit him against the wall, fracturing his cranium.
I met with the whole family in therapy because that permitted me to understand the family situation, to perceive their emotions, and to explore their resources. Once I have an idea of the family structure and the context in which the problem occurred, I can tell a story (or build a story together with the children) that represents the problem and different solutions. In an abuse situation, it is necessary to censure actions, not the persons implicated, trying to see them as parents who make mistakes. In this case, I constructed the story because the child was immobile in a chair, not wanting to look at anyone, much less participate. → Read more
The voice of the man on the phone was cracked and old. He and his wife were in their seventies and for 20 years the family had not been able to have a Christmas, a birthday, or any celebration together. There were four children and it was the enmity and resentment from Melissa, now 40- years old, to Michael, now 45, that precluded any type of family gathering. Melissa had announced, at age 20, that Michael had sexually molested her from the time she was ten until she was fourteen. Ever since then the family had been torn apart.
Melissa led an isolated life. She had never been in a relationship with a man and she had never even had a roommate. She was a lawyer but had never practiced and worked sporadically at jobs that were beneath her education. She attributed all this to her abuse by Michael. → Read more
Mary was a 44-year-old, white female who was referred to me for pervasive, lifetime anxiety. Mary remembered frequent events of feeling fearful and alone as a child with her negative, gloom-and-doom father and with her controlling and abusive first husband whom she had divorced fifteen years earlier. She was unable to express any opinions that disagreed with her father’s. While her current marriage was to a very supportive man, it was a highly regimented and structured relationship with little spontaneity and fun.
It seemed to me that Mary had no confidence in her ability to endure making mistakes. I wanted her to experience the difference between what she saw as disrespectful violation of artificial perspectives and demands created by her father and ex-husband and the whimsical bending of norms. → Read more
It was a stressful moment. A young woman sat before me trying to tell me why she had come in, a matter of vital concern to me. I was a new intern at the counseling center and had to document each client’s presenting issue. In this case, though, I was stymied. After 30 minutes, I had absolutely nothing to write. This woman was clearly grappling with a need to maintain a secret. Every sentence was unintelligible, lacked a noun or verb, and relayed virtually no information. I was getting anxious wondering what my supervisor would think about a chart note that lacked the most basic information.
Fortunately, an intervention of Erickson’s came to mind. I interrupted the woman’s stream of words, which had been both continuous and halting at the same time. I said, “You know, there are probably 20 things you wouldn’t dream of telling me right now. Highly personal parts of your life story. Who could expect you to share these things?” Silently, she nodded. → Read more
A woman told Milton Erickson about her eight-year-old daughter, Ruth, who hated EVERYBODY:
A very MISERABLE kind of girl. I (Erickson) asked the mother what she thought made the girl hate herself and everybody else.
The mother said, “Her face is a solid freckle. And the kids call her, “Freckles.” → Read more
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
Several months ago, I found myself in the midst of a terrible conflict. Two people, with whom I had close professional and personal ties, and with whom I shared a common project, fell into a serious dispute — one accusing the other of a crime. Worse than that, each party represented powerful institutions, with which I had important connections.
I attempted to mediate; offering a plausible solution to both sides, but was refused by both. To my dismay and discomfort, the more I tried to solve this dilemma, the more the two parties began to turn their suspicions and mistrust toward me. So I backed away, feeling uneasy, nervous, and despondent. The parties consulted lawyers — positions hardened; empathy dissolved. → Read more