Living in a Post-Ericksonian World

For many years, I tried to be more like Milton Erickson. This chapter is about the more difficult challenge of trying to be more like Gilligan. It is based on 22 years of teaching, practicing, and writing about hypnotic psychotherapy. It indicates how my path has diverged from Ericksonian thinking. I hope it encourages others on their own paths.

What was really astonishing about Erickson was his willingness to be himself, to accept his "deviancies" from the norm. This courage translated directly, I believe, into compassion for and acceptance of others. To follow a similar path is remarkably challenging. But this is what we stand for as therapists.

In describing where this post-Ericksonian path has led me, I'll start by honoring a few core ideas from Erickson's legacy that still light my way. I'll then raise questions about how these ideas are put into practice. The main intent is to stimulate thinking, rather than to argue about truth.

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Ericksonian Approaches to Clinical Hypnosis

In the exceprt from the introduction Dr. Gilligan writes:

I would like to discuss in this paper what I consider to be some essential aspects of an Ericksonian approach to hypnosis and Hypnotherapy. I want to first contrast briefly the Ericksonian view of the hypnotic relationship to other more traditional views, and then to identify what I consider to be the general principles of communication in the Ericksonian approach and their application to the specific situation of hypnotic inductions. Finally, I want to comment about the need for integrity in applying these principles and techniques. Each of these topics is a major one, and in a short discussion I can convey only a general sense of their significance. 

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I was without a face and it touched me: Milton Erickson as a healer

One of Erickson’s greatest skills was his capacity to operate in two “realities” simultaneously: the interior world and the exterior world.  His “inner work” (with a dazzling array of naturalistic trance experiences)  showed the infinite possibilities of consciousness;   his “outer work” (with all sorts of directives to act differently in the social world) showed many creative paths for shifting a person’s identity; and his skill at holding both worlds simultaneously gave him a special capacity as a heale

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