Ericksonian hypnosis and psychotherapy

Ericksonian Hypnosis and Psychotherapy – notes from the training with Consuelo Casula

For the first time in Bulgaria, gathering aimed in the Ericksonian approach took place. It was wonderful three days training. The presenter Consuelo Casula (President of European Society of Hypnosis) astonished the audience with her authentic presence and energy. When she was asked what is the secret of maintaining such constant and high endurance, she answered: “Two hours sport daily, yoga, some vegetarian food, practice of meditation, good gene and disciplined way of life.” The complete dedication of the good practice was visible in each word, gesture and the very presence. In addition to the immense body of knowledge and skills, Consuelo was radiating stable, sweeping charisma. We all would be very happy to have second part of Ericksonian hypnosis, held in Sofia!

Here are some valuable notes, taken on the training (mixture of Consuelo’s and my own thoughts):

Ericksonian hypnosis as indirect, subtle approach. If one wants to study this approach, one has to already be proficient in classical hypnosis and be well awared of the common psychological knowledge as well as the main psychotherapeutical streams. We do not induce, but we elicit the trance in the patient. The therapist gets one with the patient, merges with him empathically (mirror neurons). We know the patient has hidden resources – we solely facilitate his own potential. The language of hypnosis is oriented from the problem toward the solution. It is solution focused method, aiming into the natural and inevitable recuperation.

“Hope and resiliency” – recommended new book by Dan Short.

Hypnosis is state of consciousness (not of the subconsciousness, one does not sleep), involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness, which enhances the suggestive capacity. D-r Casula repetitively claimed that hypnosis and mindfulness have common ground. We want to broaden the consciousness, not to drowse and put it to sleep. Hypnotic trance is state of full awareness. While the body is relaxed and brain into alpha and theta waves, mind is elevated to deeper and higher perceptions simultaneously.

Hypnosis is interpersonal phenomenon. Mutual trust and cooperative, high motivation as predictors of successful psychotherapy. 

Few initial, simple motivational questions toward the patient:

  • What do you want from therapy? (positively put)
  • How quickly do you want to achieve this result?
  • What would be the evidences that you get what you want?
  • How do you intend to collaborate with the therapy and the therapist?

Using patient’s own model for getting in trance – simply asking him or observing and eliciting it.

“… I am with you, I am breathing with you, on your right side!…”

Mindfulness as a conscious context of Ericksonian strategies. The therapist does not hypnotize the patient, but elicits his own mindful abilities.

“You were simultaneously here and at the same time deeply within you…”

“Your subconsciousness will keep changing you into confident person, while you will be doing your daily routine…” (post hypnotic suggestion).

Understanding the difference between the pain and suffering. Pain is natural physiological phenomena, but suffering is psychological choice!

We use the idea of magic, but on the ground of our rational mind!

Using the regular lifecycle changes and growth as a focal point for the aimed change from problem to solution – transference of capability and successful attitude. Transference from the learning to walk, study, communicate, talk, drive, so on, into the ability to overcome and learn out of the challenging, fearful psychodynamics.

Induction technique, that can be used for wide range of purposes: Crossed fingers, only the point fingers standing out jut. We connect the resistance of the old model with the fingers resistance, keeping them stretched. We realise that all we have to do is trusting our authentic ability of the potential to change the old model into the new, healthy one – the inclination of the fingers to gather and touch themselves.

Ericksonian hypnotic language (just some main directions)

Directedness through indirectedness!

It is redundant, repetitive, sensory specified, ambiguous, polysemic, positive, suggestive, evocative, analog, metaphorical.

It favors generic referential index, unspecified verbs, truisms, apposition of opposities, illusion for alternatives, implicit causative, semantics inclusions, conjunctions coordinative, connections and implications, separations, assumptions…

Synesthesia and causal effect processes

Simple conjunctions – “and”, correlations – cause and effect.

Conjunction causative implicit – while, when, for all the time.

We use present tense for the past and for the future – in that way we give message that the person creates one’s own perception and reactions NOW. 

Suggestive questions that reinforce awareness: Have you already realized how much pain is diminished?!

Suggestive statements that reinforce awareness: Non you can notice the pleasant sensation that is beginning to prevail.

“I listened with curiosity your words… I do not know what exactly happened then and you may share it when you decide to do so if you decide to do so… I am wondering what is the lesson you had to learn back then and you are learning now so peacefully. Finding this episode from your past, which is now in your long term memory, watching it from calm distance, you can take your time to realize the meaning of this model and the lesson revealed within it, you are remodeling now even without knowing it is happening so easily and beautifully… You have knowledge you did not have then, but you have now. You can bring it there and help yourself then!”

Rapport in body language, mirroring the linguistic patterns, simple and double mirroring… Empathic understanding and smooth leading.

We are the future of our past now. If we do not learn how to fall, we do not know how to stand up, walk and run.

Hypnosis is not sleep, but elevated, mindful awareness!

When we want to connect the patient with the reality here and now, we can press his feet to create bodily sensations here and now.

“If it is the right time for you to give more space, time and opportunities to your authentic self, you may just let it be thru this calmed mind of yours. . More energy you invest in your authenticity, more results you have in your daily life. More joy, happiness and real pleasure! Feel what you sense and sense what you feel – exactly this, yes. Look at the future you are creating now, transforming your past experiences and perception now according your inner Self…”

Visual squash (NLP tecnique), satisfying the gains from one and another model and behavior and eliciting the best out of both in one embracing model! Both palms in front, on the tighs – the old model is in the left hand and the new one in the right one.

Utilization: it is not just a therapy technique, since we are not doing therapy when we are utilizing, but we are being the therapy! It is the art of accepting what your client brings to you and then redirect, lead his cognition mildly. Utilization is the central technique, aiding and deepening the rapport during the therapeutic transformation of maladaptive cognitions into better ones.

Utilization is technique, principle, attitude, way of living, based on observation, being in the present moment. It is used wonderfully in psychotherapy, hypnosis, teaching and … life!

Incorporation of disparate things from the reality situation into the induction.

“No rain, no rainbow!”

Mindful statements:

Emotions are only emotions. Emotions are not facts.

Thoughts are only thoughts. Thoughts are not facts.

Suggestions: dynamic, changing according different parameters simultaneously. Suggestions stimulate experiential and multidimensional responses. Suggestions are inevitable!

Behavioral dissociation with footprints – trauma resolving. One moves from the past trauma to the present and the future, guided by the ericksonian therapist. Could be done just with paper A4 – past, present, future, place of immense resource… Face forth and back.

Distraction – redirection of attention from the problematic issues to healthy areas.

Segmentation – cutting the elephant into small pieces: body-mind, thoughts-emotions, thoughts-behaviors, emotions-behaviors, time and space, scales and grades from 1 to 10, delusions and illusions (coming from the Latin ludens, playing). Segmentations remove overgeneralized perception of the problematic issue and allow reframing of perception, thoughts and emotions.

Progression: form of pseudo orientation in time in which the subject imagines himself in the future. 

Milton has used crystal balls metaphorically, imaginatively.

Aiming at small changes. Small, but gradual and consistent steps. Even the smallest step brings gradually developed broader changes.

It’s never too late to have happy childhood!


Changes the perspective. Includes distortion in terms of compression, expansion, regression and progression.

Perceptual reorientation: the top of the mountain is different from above and below. Tome: time flies; progression and regression;

Thank you very much, D-r Casula!

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