From: Stina Nelson
Sent: Monday, September 5, 2016 4:34 PM
To: 'Dan Short'
Subject: Your book, Hope and Resiliency
I am embarrassed to say that only this week have I finished your book. I started the book when I purchased it quite some time ago, but instantly I knew that it was a book that was to be thoroughly and meaningfully read. Of course, as always I justified my failings with the usual line of “I’m too busy with work and clients”.
I found Hope and Resiliency to be superb. Now, I not only wish I had read it sooner but also I wish that I could have read it before I met with my first client years ago. Before I began the counseling program at ASU, I had read a number of books about Milton Erickson, such as A Teaching Seminar with Milton Erickson and Experiencing Erickson: An Introduction to the Man and His Work. I entered the counseling program because I realized that positive change through psychotherapy was possible. Before I learned or read about Erickson, I had little or no faith in counseling. In reading those first books, I was inspired but felt inadequate in sorting through interventions to develop an effective process.
Your book has been laid out in such an organized manner, that the wisdom of Erickson becomes more manageable. I appreciated that you began with Biographical Sketch of Milton H. Erickson and then followed with Part 1: Foundations of Healing and Health, and Part II: Clinical Strategies. With the book’s clarity and perfect order for understanding and application, Hope and Resiliency should be a textbook for all counseling students.
Another reason I wished I had had an opportunity to read Hope and Resiliency before I met with my first client was to read about the importance of clinical assessment. In the ASU counseling program and the required textbooks, assessment seemed to be geared to cover one’s bases and to make an accurate diagnosis for documentation. In your writing and discussion of Erickson, assessment was for the benefit of the client. Assessment was a means for developing effective treatment to help the client in his or her life. For me, this was an important distinction, as it brings a different tone to the process and to the asking of appropriate questions.
You have wonderfully summarized insights and quotes from Erickson throughout the book. I thought that two were worthy of memorizing before embarking on a career in psychotherapy. The first on page 218 was…”Erickson argued that it is the patient who is the most important tool of therapy and it is the patient’s lifetime of learning and experience that provides the substance needed to promote progress”. The second was a direct quote on page 188, “I don’t know how the patients are going to respond….I can comfortably wait for their response, knowing that when it occurs I can accept and utilize it”. Such honest humility in the face of patients’ strength and resiliency should inspire all therapists. The third quote found on the last page of your book should have been at the beginning of your book, “ …you should read a good book backwards…” because your book was a really good book and I should have read it backwards.
As beneficial as your book is to me as a clinician, in my personal life I have found effective direction in being a good friend to a woman whom I have known a long time. A third friend, who is a medical writer, and I have been concerned about her as she has had surgery to remove cancer and has undergone chemotherapy yet she continues to live in considerable pain. We have offered to fly her anywhere to meet with national experts in order to obtain second opinions. All our good intentions and advice have met with resentment. Before my recent trip to Florida to see her, I was reading your book and the section on pain management research. In an email to her, I simply wrote the suggestion, “Do whatever you can to reduce pain”. The tone of her communications softened immediately and she is now reporting a reduction of pain for the first time in years. Whether I am speaking as a clinician or as a person, I will remember your book and the implication about direct suggestion, as it should be a blessing and not a curse.
When you wrote about the idea of blessings surrounding suggestion and reframe, I was moved. I was especially moved by your mother’s prediction that God and his angels were “saving you for something really special in life.” That reframe has come true. The elegance of you book is proof.