Milton Erickson and symptom prescription

This post was written by admin on July 12, 2009
Posted Under: Milton Erickson,teaching stories,true story

Milton H. Erickson was the top hypnotherapist and developed many rapid acting psychiatric and psychological interventions. One of these is symptom prescription. Here the therapist actually goes with the flow of the problem and allows the client to resist against the prescription.

Here is a true teaching story from when Erickson was a young man:

Erickson used to live on a farm. He tells the tale of a very hot sunny day and his father was attempting to get a calf into the shade. The more he puled the calf trying to lead him into the barn the more stubborn the calf became and would not budge.

Erickson laughed at his dad’s failing efforts. His father got angry with him and said “I suppose you can do better.”

Milton said, “Just watch me,” and pulled the animals tail pulling him out of the shed, where upon the animal rushed in.

In his therapy often he would prescribe the symptom to put the client in control. One lady came to reduce her weight from one hundred and eighty to one hundred and fifty four. Erickson told the lady to go and increase her weight to one hundred and eighty five. Then when she returned having successfully reached the suggested goal the goal was moved up to one hundred and ninety and then one hundred and ninety.

This was very difficult for the client. She did it but was really bothered by now with her weight. Milton Erickson hypnotized her and suggested that now that she understood that her weight was under her control she would easily reduce her weight to the one hundred and fifty four. Very soon the lady reached that goal without feeling deprived or “dieting.”

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