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                                            30 yrs Behavioural Science Experience

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        Keith Bibby - Therapy Practice - Clapham Common  SW4 - Serving South London

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  HOW  ERICKSONIAN  THERAPY  HAPPENS


(  This account  reflects the views and practice of   Keith Bibby  and is not intended to describe

 the work of other practitioners.  )


No matter how seemingly depressed or distressed or defeated by a

particular personal problem, every individual has a wide range of strategies that operate perfectly effectively in other contexts.


Often - within their own personal repertoire - people have all the resources which could solve an otherwise unyielding problem - if only these could be brought to bear. But often we have to learn different ( and easier ) ways of  engaging with difficulties before this can happen.


Strategies for doing this are largely founded on original insights

gained by Milton Erickson in his youth into his own medical condition. He observed, one day, how his paralysed body, which he was incapable

of  controlling by willpower, generated some spontaneous motion in the rocking  chair in which he was sitting. Although he was incapable of the appropriate conscious movement, he was able to further amplify this motion -  by engaging his imagination in a new way.


Further  experimentation led him to discover how - by engaging similar imaginative  strategies - he was able to induce movement into his fingers and his limbs and  thus, over a period of some months, to rehabilitate his whole body.   Basically he was exploring and exploiting the brain’s capacity to mobilise alternative pathways to achieve an end result.


He realised that in thinking about problems and trying to solve them in

commonly adopted ways, the mind may be overwhelmed with their seeming enormity  and insoluble quality.


Our capacity to solve many problems lies in our psychological flexibility - and our ability to let go the problem and its limiting mind-state -  to allow more flexible unconscious processes and a wider range of resources to be brought into play.


It was his capacity to be observant of and curious about his own

response, which had allowed him to discover  what it was he was doing

unconsciously  that caused the motion of the rocking chair.


Often we are too close to problems and too fixated in the desperate pursuit of  failed conscious strategies  to notice the clues the unconscious offers us about their solution.


All our processes are individual and distinctive.   Despite the fact that we may call a problem by a certain name or label - or give it a particular diagnosis - every individual   “ does ”  the problem in  their own individual way.   Therefore,  solutions to problems need to be respectfully tailored to have these  same individual qualities.


Careful appreciation of the individual's way of having  the problem can identify where things are going wrong. This indicates which individual resources need to be harnessed or enhanced - or even where new resources must be  created - to solve it.


Carefully structured suggestion can be used to install such resources.


Clients may also be asked to do curious but harmless things which seem to have nothing to do with the problem as they perceive or experience it.

Some of these tasks may seem quite  extraordinarily odd.


They will be designed  to access process from an entirely different direction - generating a new context with greater potential.


Skilful framing of the task allows the right unconscious resources to be brought to bear without engaging the  ‘consciously  trying’ mind set - which has previously failed.


The results are often so successful that neither can the client give any account of what they are doing differently, or how they are doing that  - but nonetheless they now succeed where previously they failed.


A perfect solution - which does happen - is one where the client cannot even remember having had the original problem !


Neither do clients have to experience formal ( ' heads down and eyes shut ' ) hypnosis. A really skilful practitioner is able to observe and access  constructive states in the client ' on the fly ' as these occur spontaneously  in the course of their exchanges.


A good practitioner uses every part of the process - from the very first phone call - to help the client. Practitioners need an excellent command of  language and a clarity of mind to enable them to be systematic in discovering  the structure of the problem. They also need to be very purposive and careful in  the way they frame suggestions.


Powerful though these methods are, the Ericksonian therapist is not exercising control over your mind or making you do anything you don't want to. The therapist is only generating possibilities.


Only solutions which are compatible with your own aims and wishes and process will take. Ericksonians know only too well,  the complexity and unpredictability of human process makes all notion of control laughable. For the Ericksonian practitioner the  tasks in hand - even in the most  apparently simple cases - are plenty enough with which to engage our minds.

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Copyright Keith Bibby© December 2008                                                >>  Return