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General Principles of the Ericksonian Approach to Hypno-Psychotherapy

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 person’s 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 listener’s 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.

Erickson’s 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 Jung’s formulations of a wise, creative and resourceful unconscious than to Freud’s 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.

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