Narrative and Hypnotherapy: The possibility of change

It is striking! After many years of university level teaching of counsellors in the skills of clinical psychotherapy, you might think old classics in the field might have much to be desired. Not true!

When revisiting early literature on Milton Erickson, I’d have to say the work has gained even greater relevance. At the moment, I am reading “My voice will go with you: The teaching tales of Milton H. Erickson,” Edited by Sidney Rosen.


Book Review: ***** Five Stars

A classic in the field of hypnotherapy, reading Rosen now suggests many more insights than when I first read and studied hypnotherapy during the mid 1990s.

Erickson’s therapeutic use of story, metaphor, and symbol is still just as confronting and politically incorrect. Yet also still as stunning, if not dumbfounding. But there is more. Since 1990-ish there has been extensive development of the therapeutic enterprise.

Today when you step outside the stale confines of most university programs that remain stuck in the 1970s or there about, there is now more emphasis on quality, accountability, evidence-based measures, and qualitative developments in theory and practice.

Currently narrative, human identity, relationships, ecology, sustainability, social justice, difference, spirituality, and knowledge of minority issues in practice are all plainly on the table. At least for those who have grown over the years…

Fascinating that Erickson’s methods have also become far more accessible to those so inclined to seek active engagement with methods that work, that are based on evidence, and that engage the central value of client’s feedback. Nothing is more evidence-based than hearing from a client of a major change in their relationship, their habits of thought, their chronic health issue, or their pattern they’ve been stuck in for years.

To people outside the field of any given therapy-change method, “evidence based” is a phrase often used as a condemnation. Closed minds find it hard to re-frame the possible as indeed possible… It is easy to be skeptical when faced with the success of another therapist or a method you are not familiar with yourself.

After two decades in the academe, I have no shortage of skeptical perspectives! Yet while reading Erickson’s stories the reality of an old phrase makes sense. “Our stories are our medicine,” as the Elders of the Mi’kmaq Nation have often said. Not only our medicine, we say, but also our therapeutic wisdom.

Change is possible in often entrenched issues that face the intractable convergence of meaning, value, and energy focused on change. Not conscious, not always. Yet also deeply embedded in the truth and spirit and inner life of the person seeking change or stasis, transformation or mutation, imitation or new learning…



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