Milton Erickson


Milton H. Erickson

World’s best hypnotist

“Each person is a unique individual. Hence, psychotherapy should be formulated to meet the uniqueness of the individual’s needs, rather than tailoring the person to fit the Procrustean bed of a hypothetical theory of human behavior”

Milton Erickson

remarked Milton H. Erickson, the founding president of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis. He has been made famous for his approach to the unconscious mind as a creative and a solution-generating resource. Born in 1901, he relentlessly worked to prove that hypnosis is not some mystical procedure but rather a systematic utilization of experimental learning.

American Institute of Clinical Hypnosis Logo

His belief in the strength of the unconscious and of the significance of non-verbal communication compelled him to think differently from traditional hypnosis. The famous observation about the unconscious mind being much smarter, wiser, and quicker was contributory in the development of the interactive therapeutic relationship and purposeful engagement of the inner resources and experimental life of the subject. He practiced hypnosis on a daily basis for over half a decade and he is credited for revolutionizing the application of hypnosis. The fundamental changes in psychotherapy that are included in the mainstream of contemporary psychoanalysis are due to his works. The type of hypnosis that was derived from his practice is called Ericksonian hypnosis and it is still widely in use.

He was one of the most  important influences on Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and one of the people that Richard Bandler & John Grinder modeled in the early days of NLP.

Neuro-linguistic programming

NLP can be defined as “The art and science of personal excellence”. More precisely, it is a way of understanding people’s behavioral patterns and then influencing their behavior. It can also be described as an interactive process and it is popular with salespeople (for selling), social workers (understanding) and therapists for conflict resolution. Among the many therapeutic approaches that Erickson initiated are: one-session therapies, brief therapy, strategic family therapy, systems-oriented therapy, ordeal therapy, pediatric and dental hypno-analgesia. He invented such therapeutic techniques as paradox, humor, re-framing, confusion, surprise, binds and double binds, metaphors and storytelling, ambiguous function assignments, variable session length, and going with the resistance. He was noted for his ability to “utilize” anything about a patient to help them change including their beliefs, favorite words, cultural background, personal history, or even their neurotic habits. His notable effort was in conceptualizing the unconscious as highly separate from the conscious mind. The unconscious mind is neither dark nor deaf but has its own awareness and responses. Today, nearly 100 Erickson institutes exist in almost 30 countries. He was instrumental to the American Medical Association’s decision to approve hypnosis as a legitimate medical technique.

“There are so many things in human living that we should regard not as traumatic learning but as incomplete and unfinished learning.”

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