General Principles of the Ericksonian Approach to Hypno-Psychotherapy
The following could perhaps be construed as Erickson’s trademarks.
- An idiographic approach – designing therapy for each unique individual client.
- A utilisation approach – re-channelling a personâs interests and responses into the change process (as opposed to being particularly concerned with theories and preconceptions).
- An indirect approach – influencing others by telling carefully designed multiple level stories rather than through direct suggestion.
- An artfully vague approach – respectfully using (without overusing) vague, abstract language to appease the listenerâs critical faculties, allowing them to attach their own meanings in accordance with their own unique needs and goals.
- A naturalistic approach – taking hypnosis well away from unnecessary clandestine connotations into everyday communication.
Ericksonâs work could also be considered from the theoretical orientations of other psychotherapeutic theorists/practitioners.
- Rogers – despite his reputation, Erickson (certainly in his later work) clearly valued the Rogerian notion of trusting that clients already possess the necessary resources for change, with therapy largely a matter of creating the context to allow clients to access, amplify and apply such resources.
- Adler – Erickson’s own development, in striving to overcome severe childhood handicaps and illnesses, appears classically Adlerian.
- Freud – Ericksonian multi-level communication may relate closely to Freudian slips (otherwise, Erickson appears anti-Freudian – see some of the quotations in the next section).
- Jung – although he seemed not to subscribe to the concept of a collective unconscious, Erickson’s general take on the unconscious is much closer to Jungâs formulations of a wise, creative and resourceful unconscious than to Freudâs pessimistic notions regarding repressed instinctual urges and conflicts.
- Behaviourism – Erickson tended to view psychological problems mainly as habits rather than as indicative of deep-seated pathology, focusing much more on the present and future rather than the past and administering task assignments to clients.
Perhaps Erickson was one of the first truly eclectic/integrative therapists.