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Jim Stephens September 21st, 2004 12:23 AM

Writing and Preparing Inductions
Greetings. In his recorded lecture in January, 1957, Dr. Erickson discussed the importance of devising and writing a thorough induction and method for delivering suggestions. He related that he had previously prepared "30 pages, single-spaced, typed... then 25, and 20... so that I could use all 30 pages if necessary, or just one page." I am unclear, without a patient in front of him, what he was writing/preparing. Was he "preparing to respond" to everything a patient could do?

Was he preparing 15 different ways to provide the same message? For example, "You can get sleepier... Patients who benefit from hypnosis the most get very sleepy... You are getting sleepier... I wonder when you will know that you are getting sleepier."

Did he memorize these "scripts" and then "customize" them for every patient and problem?

Most importantly, how did he, and how do you, train others to do this?

Thanks in advance for your time.

Jim Stephens

Stephen Lankton September 21st, 2004 02:34 AM

Re: Writing and Preparing Inductions
Jim, that's a great question and I'm glad you asked it since it hits on the importance of his practicing the economy of words and the problem of having a unique induction for each client. Both are important points of Dr. Erickson's work and can be misconstrued.

Here's the background needed to best understand his self-prescribed homework: In the 1950s Erickson was still doing very traditional inductions that did, in fact, deal with the concept of 'getting sleepy' and 'going deeper.'
See the example below:

1957 - A transcript with the redundant use of 'sleep' "Now I want you to go deeper and deeper asleep." (p. 54) and the statement "I can put you in any level of trance" (p. 64).
From: Erickson, M. (With Haley, J. & Weakland, J.) (1967). "A Transcript of a Trance Induction with Commentary." in Haley (Ed.) Advanced techniques of hypnosis and therapy: Selected papers of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. p. 51-88.

This is in contrast to his later work that evolved into this:

1981 - Hypnotherapists "offer" ideas and suggestions (p. 1-2) "I don't like this matter of telling a patient I want you to get tired and sleepy" (p. 4)
From: Erickson, M., Rossi, E., (1981). Experiencing hypnosis: Therapeutic approaches to altered state. New York: Irvington. p. 4.

So, given this historical view, Erickson's 1957 comment is about his planning an induction without a "unique" client in mind and was an example of polishing his wording to say more with fewer words. Was it a script? Probably not so much of a script for an induction as a training in self-monitoring and self-editing (he forced himself to leave out the fluff).

Later in his more evolved practice of later years, he would weave the induction from the unique responses of the client in front of him. But most certainly his early efforts to economize wording was a skill set that he drew upon.

How to train others: lecture (for the ideas), example (for the understanding), and modeling (for the permission and courage to try). But learning rests with the student. The effort to really “pull it off” must eventually come from the learner. It is like learning Aikido or a similar martial art: getting the idea and understanding shows the path toward having the ability. But the ability comes from transforming the understanding into action by repeated practice and honing.

Jim Stephens September 23rd, 2004 12:16 AM

Re: Writing and Preparing Inductions
Stephen Lankton, thanks so much for your reply. I was especially taken by your "Aikido" comment in that I have wrestled for 20+ years and studied jiu-jitsu and judo for ~5 years. I think I have been coy about asking the question that is bothering me the most.

I am drawn to comparing learning and utilizing "scripts" of hypnotic inductions and suggestions to my experience in learning to play jazz. Jazz has its own language and history, and yet what matters is the music we make in the moment (I, by the way, play string bass... glad to know you play another "rhythm section" instrument). The balance I have consistently struggled with is that I have been abundantly willing to spend hours (and hours) honing the craft of memorizing and "getting" the nuances of the masters, and yet have had a difficult time translating this into "the music of the masters" when the tune is counted off.

My concern for my personal development as an "operator" in clinical hypnosis is that I am taking time to memorize all sorts of scripts (for example, out of C. Hammond's works), and have devoted myself to carefully observing nonverbal behavior, and yet am struggling to integrate the two into a way of "being hypnotic." Long story long, I am willing to put forth the effort into developing my skills, ultimately want to do so in a way that will translate into beneficial results for clients, and yet I am unsure how to do so.

In terms of training, I completed an ASCH "basic" workshop in Dec., '03, have done a monthly training with an ASCH approved consultant since February (will complete the basic-intermediate sequence in Jan., '05), undergone knee surgery in April using autohypnosis as the only anesthetic/sedative, completed a weekend workshop with Dr. Yapko in June, and will be attending a 4-day workshop with Dr. Zeig in NY in November. Further, I have read everything Jay Haley has written (except "Changing Individuals" and "Changing Couples").

Thoughts on where to go or what to do from here?

Jim Stephens

Stephen Lankton September 23rd, 2004 02:03 AM

Re: Writing and Preparing Inductions
Since you liked the Aikido reference you might appreciate this answer:
A new student comes to Aikido and asks, "Sensei, how long will it take to become an expert in Aikido?" The Sensei says, "Perhaps, if you come a few times a week, it will take 10 years." The student modifies the question, "But Sensei, what if I come to the dojo ~every~ day"? And the Senei replies: "Then it will take you at least 20 years!"

The problem I found in playing guitar and in Aikido was that to make it my own, I had to listen to my own sounds and feel the movement of my own dynamic center, respectively. As I did that, I wrote songs others (and I) loved and felt in an effortless groove, respectively.

Perhaps where you go from there is to stop learning from others for awhile...and listen, see, and feel your own wacky ideas. They might not be so wacky in the end.

Bruce Kirkcaldy September 30th, 2004 02:03 PM

Re: Writing and Preparing Inductions
Dear "Listeners",

I am reminded of an article written by Hans Eysenck in 1985 for an edited book of mine on "Individual Differences in Movement". Eysenck had provided a review of empirical studies of the effect of reminiscence in psychomotor studies. One of his anecdotal accounts, had been a reference to the fact that professional athletes (tennis players I think) actually improve their performance during the winter season (when they are training less).

In one of my supervisory groups, several therapists have asked "why is it that on some occasions when we have least prepared for a session, and have to act spontaneously, those sessions are frequently our most creative and productive sessions. We need those intervals, those periods of incubation, of apparently "doing nothing" to facilitate the learning process.
Does that make sense?
Best wishes,

Stephen Lankton October 3rd, 2004 07:13 PM

Re: Writing and Preparing Inductions
There is MUCH to be said for "letting go". It seems that the conscious mind uses (for a phrase) "techniques of intention" to organize resources for a goal. Then, the next step, is to release this "grip" or "focus" and let it go. Let the mind move on. The result is succeeding out of awareness.

Jim Stephens October 8th, 2004 08:47 AM

Re: Writing and Preparing Inductions

Thanks for the reply. Your story reminds me that the best night of playing jazz I've experienced, the best groove created, came when I had the flu. A buddy of mine asked me afterward what was working (I'd forgotten this experience until reading your reply) and I said, "Man, I don't know. I just didn't have the energy to try."

Jim Stephens

Stephen Lankton October 8th, 2004 07:49 PM

Re: Writing and Preparing Inductions
Except for the fact that my name is Stephen, I understand the reply.

Jim Stephens October 9th, 2004 01:10 PM

Re: Writing and Preparing Inductions
My mistake... I was attempting to respond to the previous "reply" and posted it under yours.

Bruce Kirkcaldy October 13th, 2004 12:52 PM

Re: Writing and Preparing Inductions
Dear Jim,

I have "treated" several musical and dancing professionals over the years, and the majority have reported similar experiences (to what you referred to)regarding "superior" performances when they were least trying. I often wonder how we can deliberately generate these novel set of "attitudes towards performance". Certainly for many performing artists anticipatory anxiety or a chronic need to perform well seems to have strong inhibitory properties, adversely affecting performance. The question remains how do we practice "letting go"? Some techniques such as "purposively" introducing errors in our performance (whilst practising) would seem one of the therapeutic tools which attacks shame and embarassment and leads to a reduction in overall arousal.
Thanks for your comment.
Bruce Kirkcaldy

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