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Ericksonian Hypnotherapy Theory

Ericksonian Hypnotherapy Theory

One of the key figures in the history of hypnotism was Milton H Erickson. His approach is often described as indirect, but if you watch videos of him in action you will see that he could be very direct. He used a combination of suggestion and metaphor to produce unconscious understanding, and hence the opportunity for the client to choose to change. The advantages of the Ericksonian model of hypnotism is that it is more dependent on the client’s experiences rather than the suggestions of the hypnotist. This allows for the client to drive the process based on what exactly they wants. Unfortunately, if a client is not particularly clear on their outcomes, Ericksonian hypnotism can be frustrating for the client who might need more direction.

Ericksonian work is based principally around four key components:

  1. Utilisation
  2. Milton Model Linguistic Patterns
  3. Metaphor
  4. Fractionalisation

Utilisation is the harnessing of whatever the client brings into the hypnotic session to assist him/her in achieving the stated outcomes. This differs from approaches which can be more dismissive of the factors that a client brings into the hypnotic session.The Milton Model Linguistic Patterns are 19 specifically determined patterns discovered by Bandler and Grinder, whilst doing early research for the Neuro Linguistic Programming process. These patterns are designed to get the client to search their own unconscious for solutions and answers. Metaphor is the use of stories and analogies to act as a bridge for the client from where they is now to where they wants to be.

Hypnotists can utilise either deep structure or surface structure metaphors for this purpose. Deep structure metaphors are stories where the meaning is not obvious in the context of the story, while surface structure metaphors are where the meaning of the story is obvious.Fractionalisation is the use of the induction of trace several times within the session in order to deepen the experience. Usually a hypnotist will instruct a client to open their eyes at various parts of the session, without formally reviving the client in order to then ask him/her to close them again and to go even deeper into trance.

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