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The Power of Milton H Erickson Pt 3

The Power of Milton H Erickson Pt 3

In addition to this, there are specific therapeutic techniques that are employed in Ericksonian Psychotherapy:

  1. Behavioural techniques: Erickson gave task assignments in order to effect conditioning and provide desensitisation
  2. Deep or uncovering therapy (when utilised): The techniques of automatic writing and drawing are typical of this aspect of Erickson’s work. Indirectness in the uncovering is used, as well as controlled amnesia to limit the rate of insight
  3. Displacement of cathexis: In his paper, Beahrs considered this to be the most significant of Erickson’s contributions. The patient is guided to transfer psychic energy from the original symptom or conflict to other areas. Techniques that Erickson employed to do this are:
  4. Symptom substitution in which a new symptom that is easier to change or to live with is installed in place of the old
  5. Symptom transformation in which the underlying anxiety or conflict is redirected to a new object
  6. Time falsification either of the past (in which the cathexis is displaced to a newly constructed relationship or experience in the past) or of the future (in which patients construct a personal fantasy of how their cure will be obtained and the energy is displaced onto this projection)

Looking a these two constructs we can see that Ericksonian Psychotherapy tends not to rely too heavily on specific theoretical or philosophical constructs. Instead, it relies on properly employed psychotherapeutic techniques and approaches under a unified idea of what the specific outcomes of therapy should be. As well, the individual responsibility of the therapist is considered essential in this therapeutic dynamic. This allows for the therapist to be creative, within an established theoretical construct which allows for maximum creativity with minimal theoretical confines.


Beahrs, O (1971, October). The hypnotic psychotherapy of Milton H Erickson, The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 14(2), 73-90

Hayley, J (1973) Uncommon Therapy: The psychiatric techniques of Milton H Erickson, MD, New York, Norton

Rossi, E. L & Ryan, M.O (1998) The Seminars, Workshops, and Lectures of Milton H Erickson Volume IV, London, Free Association Books

Zeig, J (Ed) (1985) Ericksonian Psychotherapy Vol1 Structures, New York, Brunner/Mazel

Zeig, J (Ed) (1985) Ericksonian Psychotherapy Vol2 Clinical Applications, New York, Brunner/Mazel



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