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The following procedure has been abstracted from a video produced by Herb Lustig (Lustig, 1986), who worked closely with Erickson during the 1970s. During a single session (condensed to about 15 minutes on the video), Lustig assists a client (“Phyllis”) to overcome panic attacks experienced for the past twenty years. He does this not by exploring past causes, irrational beliefs, or experiences at variance with her self-concept, but – in true Ericksonian spirit – by helping Phyllis simply to master feeling comfortable. At two year follow-up, she reported still being symptom free.


  • Problem X definition (e.g. anxiety attacks) [not necessarily a problem – could be an enhancement issue]
  • Problem X parameters (e.g. hyperventilation at work)
  • Resource state Y specification (e.g. comfort) [not necessarily polar opposite of X]
  • Move on from this step as quickly as possible, otherwise you may get bogged down with information (e.g. psychodynamic, cognitive) outside the scope of the procedure.


  • Access an appropriate memory of Y (or pretend to / act as if you can)
  • Focus on how your body felt (and describe)
  • Make feeling Y more intense, bigger, stronger, as if the feeling were under a magnifying glass and takes over your entire body (focus only on the feeling, not the situation eliciting the feeling)
  • Have all parts of your body memorise feeling Y (list them!)
  • Get rid of feeling Y [® neutrality, not X!] . . . now get it back (repeat this get it back / let it go process several times, with the therapist calibrating to non-verbal changes [e.g. changes in breathing, skin colour, degree of muscular tension, licking lips, eye movements – cf. upcoming minimal cues exercise] indicating the presence of Y)

3)  APPLY RESOURCE STATE Y (i.e. future pace)

  • Imagine the X situation(s), without feeling Y . . . yet [presupposition]
  • Get back the Y feeling and go through the X situations in imagination
  • Do this in rapid motion if necessary, retaining the Y feeling throughout
  • Even though you may imagine working hard and taking in a lot of information from a variety of sources, your body is keeping this Y feeling
  • Repeat several times, also with other X situations, if appropriate
  • Like any other skill, it becomes easier the more you do it
  • [If enhancement rather than problem issue, or only Y, selected at step 1, go through a variety of relevant commonly occurring situations]
  • Congratulations – you’ve done it all, haven’t you? [tag question]
  • You can access this Y feeling anywhere/anytime and keep it with you.

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