Summary

One of the skills which most distinguishes Milton H. Erickson, M.D., of Phoenix, Arizona from other practitioners of hypnosis and the art of change has been his world reknowned ability to succeed with "impossibles" — people who have exhausted the traditional medical, dental, psychotherapeutic, hypnotic and religious avenues for assisting them in their need, and have not been able to make the changes they desire. One characteristic of such clients (both from the descriptions Erickson has offered to us and from our own experience with our "impossible" practice) is that they seem to be quite incongruent. They typically seek help, demanding or begging that they receive the assistance they verbally claim to want, yet there are portions of their behavior available to the astute communicator which indicate that there are parts of these clients (typically, outside of their consciousness) which have needs, desires and goals different from those presented verbally.

There are many ways to characterize those unique features of the fine human being Milton H. Erickson, M.D. of Phoenix, Arizona which account for this phenomenal ability. The two volumes of Patterns series constitute one such attempt; Jay Haley has offered another, Uncommon Therapy. We have stated repeatedly throughout this series that the patterns which we presented in our model are simply one way of organizing the vast and fascinating world of Ericksonian communication—as such, they can be evaluated most appropriately in our understanding by their usefulness in making available the same powerful hypnotic communication skills possessed by Erickson. Thus, they represent a set of choices to be learned and used by you as a practitioner in order to determine through your own experience how useful these models are for your work. Our experience of Erickson as well as our experience in utilizing the many learnings we have from him in our own work leads us to identify two characteristics which Erickson possesses which we believe accounts for much of his phenomenal success:

(1) Erickson believes that the resources which the client needs to effect the change he desires are already available within him.

(2) Erickson accepts and utilizes all communication/ behavior presented by his clients.

We wish to add that we also have found it extremely useful to incorporate these two beliefs as presuppositions of our communication and behavior.

Notice that given these two beliefs as presuppositions of communication and behavior in the hypnotic encounter, many of the otherwise unconventional patterns of Erickson's behavior follow quite naturally. Consider the first of these—if this is a presupposition of hypnotic communication, then the relevant question becomes how specifically to access those resources and to turn control of them over to the client either at the conscious or the unconscious level of functioning. In the Patterns series, we have identified a number of such techniques: the verbal patterns explicitly presented in volume I, the powerful patters of the 4-tuple, transderivational search, anchoring. . .in Patterns II. The second of the two beliefs we have identified—that of accepting and utilizing all the behavior presented—leads naturally to two questions: first, how to detect the communication/behavior being presented by the client; and secondly, how to utilize such communication and behavior once detected. Essentially the answer to the first question is the communication strategy—the the answer to the first question is the communication strategy we have referred to in this book as the up-time strategy—the communication strategy by which the communicator/hypnotist uses his 7+2 chunks of attention to detect externally generated sensory experience-—more specifically, the communication behav ior of the client. This strategy allows him to detect the messages being offered by the client. There are particularly useful classes of messages which the effective and creative communicator/hypnotist will find useful: information which allows him to determine which portion of the world of potentially infinitely rich sensory and internally generated experience the client has an awareness of — the client's R-operator. This can be effectively and comfortably accomplished by the communicator/hypnotist by training himself to hear predicates which indicate representational system. The second useful class of messages offered by the client are these which allow the hypnotist/communicator to identify how the client is creating/organizing his or her experience — the client's L operator. Again, this can be easily accomplished by learning to see the accessing cues used by the client which indicate which lead system the client is using at a point in time. The third class of messages which will become available to the communicator/hypnotist operating with an up-time strategy is those which allow him to know whether the messages which the client is offering are consistent or inconsistent with one another — the client's C-operator. These three pieces of information are crucial to the art of graceful, effective and creative communication and change.

Suppose the client's C-operator is yes—that is, the messages offered in response to the communicator/hypnotist are consistent with one another. At that point in time, the communicator/hypnotist who also knows the client's R-operator, has a broad spectrum of choice of techniques to access and utilize the client's resources: the R-operator overlap principle, the tracking and sequencing of 4-tuples technique. . .

Suppose that the client's C-operator is no — that is, the messages offered by the client are inconsistent. It is precisely here that the powerful techniques offered by the 4-tuple model become particularly useful. Consistent with Ericksonian principle of accepting and utilizing all communication/behavior, the hypnotist /communicator accepts all the conflicting messages as valid representations of potentially powerful parts of the client. The client with his limited ability to represent in consciousness his ongoing experience, including his own communication behavior, will be aware also of only a portion of the multi-messages which the hypnotist/communicator uses in responding to the multi-message offered by the client. In general, the hypnotist/communi-cator will accept and respond to the portions of the client's unconscious communication in such a way as to remain outside of the client's consciousness, thus preserving the choice offered by the client, the hypnotist/communicator effectively paces all the models of the world the client as the first movement in successful hypnotic communication. By this relatively simple device, the term "resistant" client becomes unnecessary. This is, of couse, a simplified review of some of the major patterns offered up to this point in this volume — the use of multi-message communication requires a learning process just as does any complex skill. This is the structure of the phenomena referred to by Erickson as the "double take" and the "triple take".

The final section of this book is essentially as integration of the explicit techniques offered by the 4-tuple and its operators. It consists of two previously unpublished transcripts of Erickson working with the two clients who have come to him for psychotherapeutic help. The films/videotapes from which these transcripts are taken are available as The Artistry of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. from Herbert S. Lustig, M.D., Ltd., P.O. Box 261, Haverford, PA 19041. We have organized the transcript into three columns: the first column presents the actual work done by Erickson with the clients. The second column presents what we refer to as the mini-patterns—essentially the verbal patterns identified and presented in this volume of Patterns. We strongly urge that you secure copies of Artistry of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. They are excellent in quality and together with the commentary which constitutes the bulk of the remainder of this volume of Patterns, they represent a powerful set of resources for developing your gracefulness, effectiveness and creativity in using the Ericksonian techniques. We recommend that you study these patterns carefully, selecting one or two of them for intensive use for several days at a time until they become part of your systematic, unconscious communication. At the end of the transcripts, we compare them, identifying and presenting the next higher level of patterning — the patterns, for example, of the sequencing of 4-tuples (one example of an Ericksonian tracking mode) as Erickson demonstrates his grace and power in accepting, utilizing all communication/behavior and accessing the appropriate resources in these two clients to assist them in the process of change.

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