“It is really amazing what people can do. Only they don’t know what they can do.” The American psychiatrist and psychotherapist Milton Erickson (1901-1980), thanks to his thorough research, took hypnosis out of the shadows, and developed it into a powerful therapeutic tool used worldwide.
Ericksonian hypnosis has nothing to do with a state of willessness as we know it from horror stories or magic shows. No, you won’t cluck like a chicken, or drink vinegar like it’s water. Nor will you “fall into a deep sleep”. There is nothing paranormal about hypnosis. It is a very natural phenomenon, the effects of which have been clinically proven.
Erickson: godfather of hypnotherapy
As a young man, American psychiatrist and psychotherapist Milton Erickson (1901-1980) experienced firsthand the impact the mind can have on the body. He became completely paralyzed by polio and was even in a coma for three days, but managed to regain control of his muscles after a year. The state of unconsciousness experienced through his coma sparked his interest in the trance state.
Hypnosis has been used in various forms for centuries, but became popular at the end of the 19th century – partly under the influence of Sigmund Freud – as a treatment method for psychological complaints. Hypnosis comes from the Greek word “hypnos,” which means sleep. During hypnosis, however, you do not fall asleep, but enter a relaxed state in which you are extremely focused and open to suggestions. And that’s where the problem lies. Many patients show great resistance during hypnosis, do not get into trance and consequently do not appear receptive to suggestions.
Power to the brain
According to Erickson, trance is not an exceptional state but an everyday phenomenon. Just think of the runner’s high – the feeling of happiness you can experience while running. Erickson developed an individualizable form of hypnosis, which does not require deep trance.
In Ericksonian hypnosis, you never lose control. You remain aware of the world around you at all times, but at the same time make contact with your subconscious: so-called “double consciousness”.
The key to Erickson’s success story is “indirectness”. In “direct hypnosis,” the hypnotist takes control of your subconscious, giving it direct instructions. “You will feel your eyelids getting heavy,” he said. “You will eat less and lose weight.” Erickson, on the other hand, worked in an indirect way. Through metaphors, symbolic language, vague and deliberately confusing remarks, yes even jokes, he created openings to the subconscious.
Ericksonian hypnosis breaks stuck patterns.
Ericksonian hypnosis respects your integrity, putting control in your hands. You learn to focus on your unconscious mind, and choose the degree to which you want to relax. From that very specific relaxation, you get the opportunity to turn your attention inward. After all, that is where the transformational work, the creative self-healing, happens. So the changes you want to obtain are in your own hands with this form of hypnosis. Amazing right?
Through Ericksonian hypnosis, you resolve inner conflicts or address learned habits. You don’t work on the symptoms themselves, but rather on the underlying patterns that maintain a habit. For example, this form of hypnosis can help with processing emotional pain or trauma, overcoming fears or phobias, losing weight, and such.
“You use hypnosis not as a cure but as a means of establishing a favorable climate in which to learn.” Hypnosis in itself does not cure, but it can create the conditions in which we can recover our own forgotten personal power, and thus make ourselves better.
Lesson from the founder
I myself successfully took the intense training courses in basic and advanced Ericksonian hypnosis with American Anné Linden, who was trained by Milton Erickson himself and who is one of the founders of this technique. Linden is affiliated with the Belgian training center Happy Coach.
Curious? Book a session of Ericksonian hypnosis with your stay at our lovely guesthouse in Portugal.