What is Ego-Strengthening?

When we refer to ego-strengthening, we refer to using processes and suggestions that enhance our client’s sense of confidence, self-worth, and inner strength.

‘Ego-strengthening’ in psychotherapy is the legacy left to us by John Hartland, MD (1901-1977), an early advocate and pioneer in the field of client-centred therapy, and who has greatly influenced how many modern hypnotherapists practice. John Hartland is the ‘Hartland’ of “Hartland’s Medical and Dental Hypnosis”, which we reference quite often in this course of study, and which is considered a valuable textbook for the novice and advanced hypnotist alike.

John Hartland was born in England, and originally worked in general medicine practice. He later became a celebrated psychiatrist, and taught and lectured on the subject of medical hypnosis throughout the world.

In the 1960s, he spent time living and lecturing in the United States, where he became great friends with Milton Erickson. In 1966 he published his “ego-strengthening technique”, which was considered revolutionary because of his claim that using these techniques alone he was able to assist his patients achieve resolution to their difficulties in fewer than 20 sessions. This was at a time when a course of psychotherapy was expected to last more than 5 years!

The value of the ‘ego-strengthening’ approach is that it aims to enhance the inner resources of the client, rather than trying to eliminate symptoms of discord.

The scripts that follow are adapted from Hartland’s original script. In our modern understanding of the value of building self-esteem, and as we continue to be influenced by positive psychology, these scripts may seem quite simple. But sometimes simple is best. You will see that the language itself is quite general, and you will be able to adapt them easily to suit your own client.

Waxman, D. (1989). Hartland's medical & dental hypnosis (3rd ed.). Bailliere Tindall.

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