Dr. Milton Erickson was a master of communication and hypnotic techniques . At times, he could be very direct with his suggestions when he felt they would be the most beneficial. At other times, he would approach his subject with much more subtlety, using stories, tone of voice, body language and confusion to gently work around the person’s resistance. For example, he might ask someone who is stuck in thinking that there was only one way to solve a problem, how many ways there were to go in and out of a room. After a common response that one could go in and out of the door by walking towards it or backing out of it, Dr. Erickson would suggest that one could skip, run, hop out of the door, take a car to the airport, go to France, come back and reenter the room. This was his way of using hypnosis to expand a person’s imagination and possibilities.
As an Ericksonian hypnotherapist, I incorporate many of the techniques that Milton Erickson developed and promoted. I believe that resistance is not something to be confronted but something to be respected because it is a person’s way of protecting him or herself. It is up to the hypnotherapist to find away to work with a person’s resistance and find a gentle way around it. The use of metaphors, stories, indirect suggestions and conversational trance are powerful and less confrontational ways of working with a client to promote personal growth and reduce the affects of trauma.