Introduction to Module Two

Greetings to you!

By now you will have completed Module One, and learned the fundamentals of hypnosis, and had some good practise with hypnotic inductions.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to re-visit Module One regularly as you progress through your studies. The things we cover there are essential understandings for any further study you do. One thing we have found as our students progress through the Modules is that the basics of trance induction can sometimes be, if not forgotten, then put aside as you begin to learn more advanced techniques.

PLEASE REMEMBER: Any hypnotic techniques you learn will only “work” if you have the induction right!

Module Two of this course of study is an interesting one, and we will be covering two main themes that, as we examine them closely, don't appear to complement each other. These are:

  • The Principles and Theory of Suggestion


  • Milton Erickson and the Utilisation Process.

You might ask why might these two subjects be in conflict? Well, they’re not really - suggestion is an important (and essential) element of all hypnotherapy practice. It needs to be learned and understood. It is the means by which you induce trance and help to create the circumstances for change, and it is through language and suggestion that you inject your own creativity and wisdom to the practise of hypnosis.

But there is a misconception that suggestion and suggestibility is the MOST important element of successful hypnotherapy. There are schools of thought (and schools of hypnosis) that teach that the hypnotist and their artful use of language and suggestion IS the agent of change. This is the historical (but old-fashioned) understanding of hypnosis. This is not what we teach here.

Consider this from Erickson:

Misconceptions regarding the alleged limitation of hypnotic psychotherapy to hypnotic suggestion are current because of the failure to differentiate between (1) the process of inducing trance states and (2) the nature of the trance. Since hypnosis can be induced and trance manifestations elicited by suggestion, the unwarranted assumption is made that whatever develops from hypnosis must be completely a result of suggestion, and primarily an expression of it. [my emphasis]
The hypnotized person remains an individual, and only certain limited general relationships and behavior are temporarily altered by hypnosis.
Hypnosis is in fact the induction of a peculiar psychological state which permits subjects to reassociate and reorganize inner psychological complexities in a way suitable to the unique items of their own psychological experiences.

This was a conclusion he and his colleagues came to in 1944, so this isn't a new idea. Once you begin to look at the way Erickson worked, and the patterns and structures of the language he used, and the utilisation process as a whole, you will begin to see that suggestion is not the cause of change in people who use hypnotherapy. Rather, it is the element that creates the opportunity for change within a person’s unconscious (or perhaps even ‘higher’ conscious) mind.

Suggestion is merely the spark to the kindle; it is the inner resources the client already has available to them - prior even to the "therapy" - that fuels the fire.

We focus on Erickson for many reasons - because his long career was extremely well-documented; because he was widely observed and modelled during his lifetime and we have contemporaneous accounts of this by others; and because he himself was an active and prolific publisher on the subject of hypnosis and psychotherapy.

But our primary motivation for studying Erickson is that he was very, very good at what he did.

And so, we will spend some time looking at the way other authorities understood Erickson, and the patterns and structures they identified in his work. Reverse-engineering in this way is not always helpful, for the sum will always be greater than the parts, but it does go some way towards helping us understand the importance of our utterances to a person in trance. We need to remember, though, that just because we think we know what we are trying to achieve with our clever linguistic wordplay, how our client's subconscious ultimately interprets that is largely unknowable to us.

Finally, as you progress through this Module please begin to consider more your own motivations, strengths and skills. It is now that we want you to begin thinking about what you will bring to your therapy practice.

We hope you enjoy it.



Quote from The collected papers of Milton H. Erickson on Hypnosis, Vol III - Edited by Ernest Rossi

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