The meaning of Ericksonian hypnosis

What is Ericksonian hypnotherapy? When it comes to hypnotherapy, subtlety always proves more effective. And that is the hallmark of Ericksonian hypnosis.


Generally, hypnotic methods seek to work your mind into something of a condition-accepting state by going to work on your subconscious mind - which is the most workable dimension of the human mind. Ericksonian hypnosis is a modern hypnotic method which taps into the potentials of the subconscious mind through a rather subtle, respectful and personalised method which usually involves the use of such tools as body language, stories, metaphors and other hypnotic techniques that are tailored to improve the condition of patients.

Referred to as ‘indirect hypnosis’ in some quarters, this hypnotic technique proves a more ethical and effective alternative for clinical settings - more than what is offered with direct hypnosis. Aptly deriving its name from Dr Milton Erickson - a renowned American psychiatrist and psychologist who championed the course for the adoption of more subtle paths into the mechanisms of the machinery that is the human mind - the method is famed for its encouragement of behavioural change through indirect suggestion.

Sometimes called the “father of hypnotherapy”, Dr Erickson had a track record of having a preference for conversations with clients using metaphors, symbols, contradictions and antidotes as means to influence their behaviour rather than direct orders that could pass for mind control.

In this video hypnotherapist, Heather Fletcher explains more about Ericksonian hypnotherapy.

How does Ericksonian hypnosis work?

Popular definitions label hypnosis as a state of extreme focus. While these assertions are not a misconception, Ericksonian hypnosis goes one better by identifying the fact that patients in some form of emotional or physical pain are unable to focus at all. And in such instances, patient resistance (however unintended), and ultimately, failure of the process, is often the result that comes with rapid hypnotic inductions.

Ericksonian hypnosis has gained a lot of traction by fixing the shortcomings of the traditional process by inducing trances. More than we realise, trances are a common feature of everyday life - minds wander on a commute to work, during meetings and even the usual daydreaming in general. Even in the absence of a deep trance, Erickson’s method recognises the unconscious mind as the mind at its most receptive state.

Ericksonian hypnosis works on this receptive state by making indirect suggestions that will subliminally lead to a therapeutic change in the patient. Erickson is also known to have used humour. The method encourages the use of subtle jokes and puns which serves as a strategic means to lighten the mood of patients afflicted with severe addictions and mental conditions. By adopting this stealthy technique, the method has proven adept at making the subconscious mind more susceptible to change.

How it differs from traditional hypnotic methods

1. Ericksonian hypnosis does not rely on direct methods, unlike the traditional approach.

2. Unlike traditional hypnosis which comes across as dictatorial and builds up resistance in the process, Ericksonian offers clients the luxury of choice when it comes to change.

3. Ericksonian hypnosis is more client-centred, unlike the hypnotist-centred traditional approach.

4. Traditional methods are problem-oriented. It loses sight of the fact that the patient already has the answers to the questions they seek. Ericksonian hypnosis, on the other hand, is a solution-oriented therapy that simply guides clients.

Ready to try this approach? Use our search tool to find an Ericksonian hypnotherapist.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Glasgow G2 & London W1H
Written by Biodun Ogunyemi, Certified Master Hypnotherapist ANLP,BNLP,SNLP,C.H,Dip.Hyp
Glasgow G2 & London W1H

Biodun Ogunyemi is the founder of Optimind, one of the leading hypnotherapy practices within the UK. He has practised on Harley Street and is an experienced hypnotherapist, trained to the highest level in advanced hypnotherapy and NLP and is the author of over 180 hypnosis products.

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