Ericksonian perspectives in Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy - though originated over 90 years ago - are consistent with discoveries in modern neuroscience.
Like Freud, Erickson recognised the prodigious activity and energy of unconscious mind. Freud abandoned early explorations in hypnosis as he triggered powerful and unpredictable reactions - probably through pressing too hard to get results.
Had Freud been as adept as Erickson he might have explored hypnosis more systematically - and not provoked upsetting and incomprehensible effects.
Erickson was far more circumspect. Paralysed for years due to polio, he became an intense observer of human reactions. Erickson deduced that our behaviours are powerful combinations of conscious and unconscious processes - that develop naturally and differently for every individual.
These automatic responses are very organised, stable and efficient. They have powerful unconscious structures and purposes. They are not easily changed - despite conscious wishes What he learned enabled him to make creative use of spontaneous bodily response to be free of paralysis twice in his life. Indeed, his medical and psychiatric work showed Erickson how people most often fail to change in desired directions through trying too hard - in the wrong way.
Too much conscious involvement & trying provokes natural resistance. Effective change requires cooperation with underlying process - which is re-focused indirectly. In this way individuals engage with a difficulty free of self-defeating intentions.
Every moment in therapeutic encounter is an opportunity to access unconscious process in spontaneous ways - mostly with the eyes open. Apart from experiencing a normal relaxed state, the client is often unaware of procedure because it is naturally attuned to their own process. Released from limiting attitudes & behaviours - it is relatively easy to get to a solution state. This often arrives without the client having any particular awareness of how this happened.
Because our systems are tuned to spontaneously recognise and adopt easier experiences, limiting patterns are abandoned and easier mode are adopted.
These fundamental insights created the principles from which an almost infinite range of formal and informal techniques and patterns of suggestion are evolved to meet the needs of individual cases. Erickson developed and used this ‘ indirect method ‘ in his medical and psychiatric practice often - with profound effect.
Much of what Erickson achieved both puzzled and astounded medical and psychiatric opinion. Even today, few medical practitioners receive instruction in or understand the principles that Erickson demonstrated with many difficult cases.
The therapist does not ‘make’ things happen - but seeks to create unconscious conditions under which beneficial change can occur - energising the process through forming constructive suggestion. The client system chooses how to respond - often with better results than those imagined by the therapist.
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