Book Reviews of Hope & Resiliency
What a system Short offers!, May 12,
Dr. Dan Short has constructed a very cohesive system of
describing Milton H. Erickson's therapeutic techniques, perhaps the best
I have ever seen. Short's six therapeutic strategies of progression,
partitioning, distraction, suggestion, reorientation and utilization are
elegant constructs that I believe may well organize all human helping
This is a extremely well organized and easy to
understand treatment of Erickson's ingenious methods and may inspire the
reader interested in psychotherapy and other forms of human empowerment
to consider the ways in which he or she is practicing the craft.
James R. Webb
Bringing light to the mystery,
December 21, 2005
Two distinct models of psychotherapy
are emerging in the 21st century: the empirically based, programmed
models and the strategic, humanistic models. Hope and Resiliency will
emerge as one of the texts that epitomize the emerging strategic
In the Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter interview with Scott
Miller in the Winter 2005 issue (Vol. 24, No.3), Miller pointed out that
techniques and procedures represent only a small percentage of the
therapeutic impact in psychotherapy. Instead, it is the therapist's
underlying rapport and conviction that makes the difference. Consistent
with this strategic humanistic zeitgeist, Hope and Resiliency is more
than a mere analysis of Erickson's strategies and techniques. It is a
guide in understanding Erickson's perspective on what it means to be
human and on what humans can become. Each chapter is a window into the
complexity and miracle of what Erickson saw when he watched people
interact with their environment and make conscious and unconscious
An implied assumption in Hope and Resiliency is that if a therapist's
internal conviction is that the patient needs fixing, the patient views
himself as being broken. If a therapist's internal conviction is that
the patient needs curing, the patient views himself as being sick. If a
therapist's internal conviction is that the patient already has
everything inside that he needs with which to solve his own problem, the
patient views himself as being a seeker.
This core section of the book presents strategies for clinical
problem-solving. It builds on the core strategies using delightful case
examples followed by explanations and elaborations. As one who has read
everything about Erickson I can get my hands on, I was happy to discover
many previously unpublished examples. As with the first part of the
book, the second section is more than a set of how-to techniques. It is
an exploration of the roots and branches of Erickson's philosophical
tree as seen through concrete applications.
Each subsequent element is presented as though one were looking through
a single multi-faceted window into the dynamic maelstrom of humanity. In
this way, the authors have avoided having to choose between tactics or
strategy by simultaneously presenting each element as both discrete and
as an aspect of a larger whole.
I appreciate how the authors elegantly combined the easily readable
philosophic elements with practical technique and strategy explanations.
At the end of the book there is a summary of pragmatic guidelines that
describe contraindications and caveats when applying the strategies with
different populations or specific cases. Subsequently, there are
concrete exercises that help the practitioner to internalize each of the
In the introduction, the authors affirm that, "the content in these
chapters is not meant to be memorized as a sort of stale doctrine but
rather to serve as a spark for imagination and continued discovery."
They are extremely successful in accomplishing their stated goal. It is
impossible to read this book without one's mind immediately thinking of
how to apply the learnings to one's own patients.
Most importantly, Hope and Resiliency helped me organize many of the
learnings I previously internalized from Erickson but did not have pegs
upon which to hang the concepts. This is a book I wish I had when I was
just starting out. With it I would not have been as intimidated by the
immense complexity of Erickson's worldview. To that end, I highly
recommend Hope and Resiliency to anyone at any level who values both
clarity and the joy of discovery.
Rick Landis, Ph.D.
Milton H. Erickson Institute for Integrative Medicine
Like Spending Time with Erickson,
January 28, 2006
Understanding the Psychotherapeutic Strategies of Milton H.
Erickson, M.D.” is a wonderful book. I
had the sense while reading it that I was in Erickson’s office and just
listening to him talk. This is a
consequence of an informal narrative style wherein the book contains many case
studies, comments by Erickson, and comments by his daughters and Short.
I have not seen some of these studies and commentaries before, and they
shed a new and continuingly interesting light on this remarkable man and his
works. There are gems like, “Let
patients know that they are going to be cured and that it will take place
within them.” And “Often
in psychotherapy a change of reference is all that is needed.” and
“Erickson’s philosophy of healing was characterized by his attention
to the goodness of the patient’s mind and body.
heart of the book centers around organizing Erickson’s contributions under the
categories of: distraction, partitioning, progression, suggestion,
reorientation, and utilization. Although
it is next to impossible to characterize or systematize Erickson’s work in
simple packets, this organization does lend itself to an useful set of
guidelines to the man and his work.
book is highly recommended as it provides the reader with some unique
perspectives on Erickson’s work, his way of working, and many practical
Rubin Battino, MS, LPCC, NCC
Metaphoria,Guided Imagery and Other
Approaches to Healing
* Ericksonian Approaches
A non professional reader...enjoys,
April 2, 2007
All my qualification for reading
this and reviewing this, is simply the amount of reading I've done in
nearly two years now. Covering NLP, hypnosis, REBT and some other odds
and ends. So professional, I am not.
The 6 strategies covered, I can see operate in a wider realm. The realm
of social influence in fact. Having reread the book several times now, I
can see in other therapy modalities these threads running through.
From my own limited understanding, this is certainly an addition to my
library that goes way beyond techniques, cookbook formulas and
"how-to's". Instead, you have a wider overarching set of concepts to
inform therapy in a more flexible, responsive and creative way.
The 6 strategies (it is noted that these are *not* exhaustive, just the
main ones to be discussed) are Distraction, Progression, Reframing,
Suggestion, Partitioning and Utilization. On later reflection, I
realized where some of these apply to rapport building, persuasion as
well as engineering social attitudes.
At the time I was reading Cialdini's Influence, and found that the two
books together do give me a way to understand propaganda, advertising
and sales. Yet this is certainly not the aim of the book in itself. Like
any excellent work, it has wider applications than the authors discuss,
or where perhaps consciously aware of at the time?
I highly recommend this to hypnotherapists and therapists of any stripe
in actual fact. I also recommend it highly to any student of psychology,
counseling, advertising (yes, it's way off the curriculum I'm sure) and
any agent of influence.
This of course, is only my perspective as one criticism I've had is the
sheer number of books I've read in only 2 years means that surely I
can't have processed the skills in them properly. Quite right, but I've
enjoyed trying :-).
Followers of Dr. Milton H. Erickson are sure
to find pleasure and education in Hope and Resiliency:
Understanding the Psychotherapeutic Strategies of Milton H.
The authors provide a
fresh analysis of his philosophy and psychotherapeutic work. Dr.
Dan Short has teamed up with two of Erickson's daughters to
write this book that is based on case histories, Erickson's own
writings, and personal anecdotes from Betty Alice Erickson and
Roxanne Erickson Klein. The book begins with a biographical
history of Erickson's life and then explains six therapeutic
strategies that the authors consider to be the basic
cornerstones of his professional success with clients for whom
he was often a "port of last resort."
Milton H. Erickson was born in 1901 in the
Nevada Sierras in a log cabin with a dirt floor, the second of
nine children born to Albert and Clara Erickson. His was a
farming family. At age 19 he was stricken with polio and the
paralysis left him an invalid; so ill in fact that at one point
the family doctor told his mother that her son would die by the
Through an arduous year of
self-rehabilitation, the young Erickson learned to walk again
and attended the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 1927
with a medical degree in psychiatry. He held many appointments
at prestigious institutions; his last spanned 14 years at Wayne
County Hospital near Detroit.
He had three children by his first
marriage and five more by his second wife, Elizabeth, his
life-long partner. In the late 1940s he moved to Phoenix,
Arizona and began a private practice. He also traveled as a
lecturer, writer, and consultant and was a nationally recognized
expert on clinical hypnosis. In 1957 he founded the American
Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
During the last three decades of his life,
post-polio syndrome brought constant, debilitating pain and
paralysis. Nevertheless, he continued working from his home,
even while confined to a wheelchair. Throughout those years he
exuded a love of life, a delight in simple pleasures, a quick
wit, a sharp mind, and a keen sense of humor. His life was
characterized by hope and resiliency and these were the gifts he
gave to colleagues, patients, and students.
Erickson's Approach to
Part II of Hope and Resiliency describes
Erickson's therapeutic approach: the fundamental dynamics of
healing and the clinical relationship as Erickson saw them and
applied them. Erickson, for example, did not promote the concept
of "cure". Instead, he was interested in helping people adjust
to their circumstances. While he worked to reduce suffering, he
did not expect perfection from his patients. He encouraged them
to make small changes that often led to bigger accomplishments.
He recognized that learning requires
effort and exhorted his patients to take action to solve their
problems, no matter how small or insignificant those actions
might seem. Erickson took a holistic view of physical and mental
health, always working from within each patient's frame of
reference. He respected the right of personal choice. He
re-educated his patients through experiential learning.
Erickson favored and fostered a
relationship of trust and collaboration with his patients (even
children) believing that the therapist should "always let
patients follow their own spontaneous ways of doing things." His
style was to offer possibilities, support individual growth, and
let each person find a unique path to healing. Respect for
individuality was Erickson's hallmark.
Six Core Clinical Strategies
"It is difficult to find another single
approach to psychotherapy that incorporates as many strategies
for healing as the Erickson approach." (p. 37)
The authors delineate six core clinical
strategies that Erickson used as the foundation of his work. A
chapter is devoted to each strategy. These six strategies are
listed below, with brief definitions.
Distraction: This strategy relies on
directing the patient's attention away from the problem toward a
seemingly irrelevant task, another problem or challenge, a
capability, or another aspect of the problem previously not
considered. The shift in attention often solves the original
problem or causes the patient to move beyond a limitation, by
doing something that previously seemed impossible.
Partitioning: This process involves
re-chunking and restructuring the symptom in terms of
complexity, goals, duration, resources and attention. By
breaking the problem into smaller unites, small successes are
more easily achieved. One example is "splitting": proposing the
existence of opposites as two or more components of the problem
or solution, each of which can be addressed separately.
Progression: This method employs the
incremental use of assignments and/or instructions to increase
the patient's response. Erickson had his patients start out with
small successes and discoveries that gradually led to larger
ones. He once stated, "Even the smallest breakthrough can serve
as the foundation on which other accomplishments are built."
Suggestion: Essentially, suggestion is the
basis of all therapy. Erickson made the point that the
therapist's confidence in his or her ability conveys a powerful
suggestion that the patient will be helped.
Reorientation: This is assigning new
interpretations of events, creating new meanings and asking
questions that create insights. Additional methods include
externalizing the problem, and changing one's perspective with
respect to time (age regression, age progression, and time
Utilization: This is recognizing and using
the patient's behavioral, emotional and intellectual
predispositions as a fundamental treatment component. "A
previously unrecognized potential is employed to achieve any
outcome that will be helpful or appealing to the individual."
The authors note that the six strategies
are not mutually exclusive and do not constitute an exhaustive
list of Erickson's methods, but are only a "brief introduction"
to the full range of Erickson's work. The authors prudently
discuss contraindications for each strategy. They remind readers
of the principal directive of Erickson's teachings: Structure
each therapeutic intervention for the needs and personality of
Referring to the title of this book, the
authors point out that hope promotes healing and reduces
suffering. Erickson inspired hope by engaging patients in the
therapeutic process---giving them tasks to perform and implying
that by performing such tasks the client would derive beneficial
results. Erickson encouraged resiliency by helping patients find
an inner source of personal strength and capability, even in the
face of disability.
Erickson-inspired therapists will truly
enjoy Hope and Resiliency as an addition to the ever-expanding
body of literature on the world's best-known hypnotherapist.
This book's unique contribution is the thorough description of
the six core strategies of Erickson's work. The case studies and
anecdotes from the Erickson archives make for great reading as
well as apt illustrations of the strategies.
This book shows that Erickson used more
than hypnosis in his approach. His ability to align himself with
his patients, assess their personalities and eccentricities, put
their symptoms and strengths into new perspectives, and his
creativity in prescribing solution-oriented assignments were as
essential to his many successes as his skill in clinical
hypnosis. The authors give insights into Erickson's reasoning as
well as the manner in which he laid the groundwork to ensure
each patient's compliance and acceptance.
Even 25 years after his death, there is
still a fascination with the genius of Milton Erickson and as
Short, Erickson, and Klein prove, there is still more to learn
about this remarkable physician.
Judith E. Pearson, Ph.D., L.P.C.
of Clinical Hypnosis:
Hope and Resiliency
comes from a collaborative
effort among three Erickson experts: Dan Short, Ph.D. a psychologist and
former Associate Director for the Milton H. EricksonFoundation, and two
of Erickson’s daughters; Betty Alice Erickson, MS, LPC, a professional
counselor and international Ericksonian educator, and Roxanna Erickson
Klein, RN, Ph.D., a practicing nurse and member of the Board of
Directors of the Milton H. Erickson Foundation. The book draws on the
authors’ personal experiences as well as on immersion in hundreds of
hours of audio recordings by Erickson. It includes several previously
unpublished case vignettes.
This book adds to the cornucopia of
publications explicating Erickson’s work, but it brings accessible,
broad, encompassing strokes to his treatment philosophy and methods. The
authors’ draw on their well articulated conviction that, “Without having
sufficient hope or resiliency, vast amounts of external resources can be
poured into what is essentially a vacuum of despair and surrender” (p.
xi). The scope of the book is expansive in that the authors have
included formal explications of Erickson’s fundamental therapeutic
values and strategic approaches, copious and often original case
examples as well as an almost homespun narrative biographical account of
his life. In addition, the book includes a didactic structure with
chapter summaries, caveats on limitations and contraindications for
specific techniques and a series of “Self-Development Exercises” in the
appendix. This suggests that the book is conceived of as a stimulating
tutorial for the reader who is presumed to be a clinician, but not
necessarily an Ericksonian practitioner. But the authors warn that
Erickson’s techniques are presented not to be uncritically imitated when
they write that: “An understanding of clinical strategies fosters less
dependency on predetermined procedures and greater use of clinical
judgment” (p. 36). In addition to all of this, as noted in the excellent
forward by Stephen Lankton, the process of creating the volume
intentionally involved a novel approach to international collaboration,
in that colleagues from several different countries were invited to
modify drafts of the book to create culturally specific adaptations
which would make it internationally accessible.
The book is organized into two main
sections. The first section is a personal biographical sketch of
Erickson’s life. This insider’s view presents a Mark Twain-like
narrative of Erickson’s childhood. This gives the reader a warm, human
understanding of the man, as well as several illustrations of how his
life experiences germinated and grew into the vital structure of his
work. For example, the authors tie Erickson’s use of confusion
strategies and “therapeutic shock” to an early lesson in spelling
courtesy of a beloved teacher who understood both Erickson’s reading
disorder and his hunger for reading. “His teacher highlighted the most
important features of the symbol ‘3’ by turning it on its side. Erickson
explains that in a blinding flash of light he suddenly saw the
difference between a ‘3’ and an ‘m’ (p. xvii). The thrust of the
biographical narrative section of the book is an object lesson of how
the adversities and challenges of Erickson’s formative years (including
dyslexia, color blindness, tone deafness, and in late adolescence,
poliomyelitis) informed both the personal and professional cultivation
of dogged determination, hope and resiliency.
The second section, which is by far the
larger part, creates and fleshes out an armature of the basic strategic
principles and treatment approaches that Erickson developed. It seeks to
present his therapeutic strategies and techniques not from a schematic
overview, but rather from the inside out, which is accomplished by using
copious case examples that stimulate the reader to review and associate
to his/her own clinical experiences. The authors have also used a wide
angle lens in a chapter entitled, “A Philosophic Framework”, to
conceptualize Erickson’s vantage point in the realms of philosophy and
history. This is done with a wide range of references that include among
others, Aristotle, explanations of the meaning of meta-teleology, an
anonymous Saudi poet, and Viktor Frankl.
The organizing principle of this section
of the book is the authors’ own nomenclature which they employ in order
to delineate the principles, philosophy, and therapeutic applications of
what they call Erickson’s Six Core Strategies. Through this framework,
the reader is led through the various cases which provide clarification
of these approaches from many different angles. The authors call the six
strategies: Distraction, Partitioning, Progression, Suggestion,
Reorientation, and Utilization, and they have allocated a chapter to
The specific definitions ascribed to
these are beyond the scope of this review. Although some of these terms
form part and parcel of hypnotic terminology (Suggestion and Utilization
for example), others seem to have been appropriated and re-defined by
the authors. I wonder why they felt it necessary to do this, as it is
the only significant drawback, in my view, to this otherwise
illuminating book. For example, the strategy the authors have dubbed
“Reorientation” the shift in vantage point, sometimes called
“re-framing,” which allows the patient to deeply see his/her dilemma
through a new perspective. This experience can then lead to a
therapeutic shift from self-denigration to self-affirmation and to the
patient being able to find a previously unseen path through a personal
roadblock. As an example, the book cites a delightful Erickson case
recounted by Haley in which a medical student and his bride were seeking
an annulment because of his inability to obtain an erection to
consummate the marriage. By “re-orienting” the bride and groom to the
notion that the husband was paying her a compliment because undoubtedly
his difficulties stemmed from his excess awe at her beauty, the story
proceeds to say that “the young couple nearly stopped the car on the way
back to Detroit in order to have intercourse” (Haley, 1985, Vol. II,
pp.118-119, as cited on p.162). This kind of case provides the
delightful “shock and awe,” a kind of one trial learning for the reader
who can only aspire to such brilliance.
The only problem with this, in my view,
may be that students of hypnosis will have previously associated the
conceptual meaning of “reorientation” with the emergence from a trance
state. A similar confounding word use is implicit in the chapter on
“Progression,” which is used in this book to describe a large schema
resulting in paced therapeutic progress. In this chapter, the authors
illustrate techniques of geometric progression, progressive
desensitization, progressive relaxation, pattern interruption, and
Erickson’s famous pseudoorientation in time. But again, potential
confusion arises for the reader accustomed to associating the term with
In sum though, in this lovely, scholarly
and heartfelt book the authors emphasize the heart and soul of
Erickson’s work. It is not so much a book about hypnosis, but more one
about the genesis of healing.
Throughout, the authors emphasize that
the foundation of Erickson’s healing work was his ability to convey his
deeply held belief in the “goodness and resourcefulness of the mind, the
understandable innocence of childhood, and/or the miraculous
construction of the body” (p 159). Although broadly and deeply
conceived, this book is neither chaotic nor overwhelming. Indeed, it
succeeds very well in drawing the reader into a permissive and immersive
experience of a learning trance as it moves through the myriad panes and
vantage points of a delightful Ericksonian hologram.
Reviewed by: Carol Ginandes, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
The keys to truly
being able to help another human being include:
hope that they can get
better, belief that they can change, a willingness to enter into and
empathise with their client's reality, their models of the world, a
structure or framework for wholeness, within which to work, flexible
strategies and techniques to help move a person towards wholeness, a
willingness to 'go first' or experience the techniques and tools of
therapeutic change oneself.
The authors of Hope and Resiliency cut
through the vast amount of written material by and about Milton H
Erickson MD's therapeutic work, to present the functional principles and
framework for how change happens. The authors are amply qualified
for this task: Dan Short spent two years reorganising and preserving the
Erickson archive; Betty Alice Erickson and Roxanna Erickson Klein are
two of Dr Erickson's daughters, both professionally accredited with
years of experience.
They identify and present 6 key clinical strategies
in detail, well illustrated by Erickson's own words and case examples.
Milton Erickson suggested that "you should read a good book backwards":
start with the last chapter and read back to the first, "then re-read it
front to back and you will have a marvellous experience." Do this with
this book, and you will have a good overview and working knowledge of
Erickson's work. Then make sure you do the exercises in Appendix A at
least twice, and you will gain greatly in understanding and facility
with these techniques.
This book is recommended for:
Therapists, counsellors, psychotherapists, NLP practitioners and master
practitioners, hypnotherapists, life coaches. Also for any helping
professionals and anyone wanting to gain a greater understanding of
their own psyche and how to create positive change.
Summary: Hope and
Resiliency is clear and accessible, while still providing satisfying
Bronze Dragon Training (www.bronze-dragon.com)
trained as a therapist some fifteen years ago, I find it difficult to say
whether this book would be easier for beginning therapists to understand than
some of the books about Ericksonian strategies which were available when I was
just starting out. From my standpoint in the present, I found this book
extremely easy to understand and very useful indeed, in that it not only
explains what Erickson was doing when he performed a particular strategy but it
also gives a case study for virtually every instance, making the whole thing
much easier to grasp than I have ever before found Ericksonian strategies to be.
extra good thing about this book is that the reader is advised not to do therapy
just like Erickson did it but to adapt each strategy to their own particular way
of working with clients. Erickson himself said that therapy is not static but
must evolve and be tailored to suit each individual client, which is what he did
all the time.
personally, think that this book would be a useful addition to the library of
any therapist who is fascinated by the way Erickson worked but who has never
quite grasped the methods he used to their own satisfaction. It will also serve
as a reminder to those who do use his strategies but have, perhaps, forgotten
the existence of some, due to not having used them for some time.