Neo-Ericksonian Approaches to change work

Often, when I get enquiries about a specific complaint like blushing or tinnitus (ringing in the ear), people want to know exactly what I’m going to do for them. I can appreciate their wanting to know but, ironically, the best answer to that question is probably not the answer they are looking for.

They want definite, distinct treatment steps, like they might expect from a medical approach. But, in reality, the best answer to that question for an NLP Practitioner of Hypnotherapist is “I don’t know.” Because part of the power of NLP and Neo-Ericksonian Hypnosis is that it is tailored specifically for the individual. No two people are alike, so no two treatments should be alike either. You can’t really know what we’re going to do with a particular client until we meet that client.

As an example from the case studies of Milton Erickson, he worked with three different children who all had the same problem – bed-wetting. Instead of dusting off the “How to Treat Bedwetting” hypnosis script, Erickson treated each person uniquely. It is interesting to note that in all of the cases below no hypnosis, (as we normally think of it), was used. It was, however, because of Erickson’s deep understanding of how the mind works, vis-a-vis trance, that he was able to produce these successful results.

Here are summaries of the three different cases.

Case #1: A twelve year old boy was brought to Erickson for bedwetting. Ericksondismissed his parents, so he was just there with the kid, and immediately began talking to the boy about other topics, avoiding a discussion of bedwetting altogether. Upon learningthat the boy played baseball and his brother played football, Erickson began to describe the fine muscle coordination it takes to play baseball compared to gross, uncoordinatedmuscle skills used in football. The boy listened raptly as Erickson described in some detail all the fine muscle adjustments his body made automatically in order to position hisself underneath the ball and to catch it.

The glove has to be opened up at just the right moment and clamped down again at justthe right moment. When transferring the ball to the other hand, the same kind of finemuscle control is needed. Then, when throwing the ball to the infield, if one lets go too soon, it doesn’t go where one wants it to go, likewise, letting go too late leads to frustration. Letting go at just the right time, gets it to go where you want it go and that constitutes success, in baseball.

Case #2: In this next case, a twelve year old boy was in an intense struggle with his mother over continued wetting of the bed. Erickson gave the mother an assignment of waking herself up at 4 or 5 in the morning to check whether her son’s bed was wet or dry. If it was dry, she was to just let him sleep and go back to bed without waking him. If was wet, she was to get the boy up and have him practice his handwriting, which was very poor, until 7 am. Not only was the symptom resolved but the boy’s relationship with his father and his grades at school improved.

Case #3: An eleven year old girl that has been cytoscoped so many times for her urinary tract problems that she has lost her ability to control her bladder sphincter. She wouldwet her pants if she ran or laughed during the day and she wet the bed at night. Her sisters, the neighbor kids and kids at school had discovered her weakness and took delight in making her wet her pants. Aren’t kids wonderful? She was miserable about the situation. Erickson told her that she already knew had to have dry beds and dry pants. She told him that he was wrong. He told her that she already knew but that she did not know that she knew. Well, she was perplexed by that. He asked her in a rather dramatic fashion what she would do if she were sitting on the toilet urinating and a strange man poked his head into the bathroom. She replied that she would freeze. Erickson agreed and told her that this was what she knew that she didn’t know that she knew. All she had to do, he said, was to use this ability and to practice starting and stopping when she was urinating. She developed her muscle rapidly and was having dry beds and pants within a short time.

Good thing these patients didn’t demand to know what Milton was going to do before they came in. They might never have made it.