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Change your life by brief therapy

22. January 2022
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Books reviewedMichelle Weiner-Davis: Change your life and everyone in it. Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, 1995
Sidney Rosen: My Voice Will Go With You: The Teaching Tales of Milton Erickson (1982)

An important discovery: Patients often make first changes before their first therapy session. In "Change Your Life", Michelle Weiner-Davis explains how we can support this departure in a sustainable way. Her solution focussed brief therapy (sfbt) is inspired by psychiatrist Milton Erickson. He applied hypnotherapy in brief therapy. His case histories invite readers to be creative.

Weiner-Davis book is very practical. In order to help her patients solve problems she uses a variety of questions: What have you noticed about your situation? If something has changed: Is this the kind of change you would like to continue to have happen? Notice what works and do more of it. When the same problem keeps coming up over and over in your life: Go beyond more of the same and do something different. Or - most important for therapists with a tendency to be a "hyperactive problem-solver": Do nothing. Execpt for taking a deep breath.

Trance in brief therapy

Milton Erickson, born in 1901, became best known for his work on hypnosis. Unlike Freud, he developed an individualized approach for every patient. For him "trance" is a state that everyone has experienced: daydreaming, meditating, or jogging (meditation in motion). These are situations in which one is aware of the vividness of inner mental and sensory experiences. The trance is intended to enable the patient to mobilize unconscious self-healing powers and to use creative resources. And Erickson assists them in breaking out of their mental patterns and crossing boundaries.

Both authors rely on the fact that the patient knows the way out of the crisis. Brief therapy with or without hypnosis gives them the bit of skilful support needed. They work in a solution-oriented way and do not waste much time looking for the causes of problems in childhood. In our podcast we appreciate this approach but we also recommend Tara Brach's "Radical Compassion" in order to deal with painful memories from the past.

Michelle Weiner-Davis became known for her sequel Divorce busting.

Tom Butler-Bowdon on Milton Erickson in Psychology Classics.

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