Dr. Milton Erickson graduated from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine in 1925. During the ensuing 55 years of his career, Erickson was devoted to researching, practicing, learning, refining, teaching, and publishing the lessons borne of his creative intuition and experience. And over the years his practices evolved. The last two decades of his life, and even more so in the 40 years since his death, through the efforts of those he influenced the number of ideas and interventions attributed to Erickson proliferated abundantly. His influence enriched the Palo Alto Mental Research Institute, Haley, de Shazer, Solution Focused Therapy, and drew attention to permissive and indirect hypnosis. There was also self-psychology, magic questions, possibility therapy, tools of intention, and more. Explanations of his work ranged from second-ordered learning, ultradian rhythms, baseball diamonds, butterflies, neurolinguistics, aesthetic art, building happiness, genomics, and even forays into speculative quantum consciousness.
Erickson cultivated and enriched our field. Yet, on this 40th conference, it is fitting to set these creative trappings aside. This is a keynote about his legacy, so we will rediscover what Erickson thought to be essential in his work. In his own words, beginning with his invariant definition of “change,” we will examine his conceptual evolution in three areas: (1) etiology of symptoms, (2) forms of suggestion, and (3) evocation of metaphors. Perhaps most importantly, this presentation will cover, and include clinical examples, of what he explained to me to be the 5 key elements upon which he built his approach: 1) utilization, 2) speaking the client’s experiential language, 3) reordering clients’ experiential resources, 4) conscious/unconscious dissociation, and 5) the power of ambiguity. In this, we will unlock the essence of what has made Milton Erickson’s contributions enduring.
*Sessions may be edited for content and to preserve confidentiality*
Stephen Lankton, MSW, DAHB, trained under Milton H. Erickson, M.D. from 1975 to 1979, and his efforts at promoting and interpreting Erickson’s approach to hypnosis and therapy at the highest academic levels resulted in the inclusion of chapters in several scholarly publications edited by other luminaries in the field. He is a LCSW psychotherapist in a private practice in Phoenix, Arizona, Lankton conducts workshops internationally (24 countries).