The late Dr. Erickson formulated the following suggestions that he tended to give to highly motivated subjects who had test anxiety and who were going to take an essay exam. These patients included physicians, lawyers, Ph.D. candidates, college and high school students. The central theme of the suggestions is the avoidance of perfectionism and motivating the student for "the comfortable achievement of lesser goals" (1965, p. 358). Erickson, despite myths to the contrary, did not individualize all of his suggestions. He specifically indicated that "the procedure employed with these various applicants for help was essentially constant in character" (p. 356). He reported "uniformly good" results. The essence of Erickson's overall approach was tremendous flexibility and he was willing to be both highly direct and highly indirect, depending on the patient. You will note that the suggestions he typically used with this problem are sometimes so highly directive and authoritarian that therapists who are not exceptionally confident will probably feel uncomfortable using some of them. Erickson reported only a few failures with the technique. "All of these first-time failures occurred with subjects who developed only light trances and who could not seem to learn deep trances. The deeper the trance, the better pleased was the examinee with the examination results" (p. 358). It is, therefore, recommended that the patient be placed in the deepest trance possible prior to offering these suggestions. (Ed.)
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