Monday, August 22, 2011

What we can learn from (at least) one model of Hypnosis

Credit: The Milton Erickson
One of the most important influences on my understanding of how language works, especially the use of voice in therapeutic change and clinical process, was Milton Erickson, considered by many to be the founder of modern hypnotherapy. To quote from the website, "In Ericksonian hypnosis, language is used to direct the attention inwards on a search for meaning or to verify what is being said." Whereas many therapies make extensive use of the visual field with movement or "gadgets,"

Erickson was a paraplegic, who was also apparently somewhat dyslexic, color blind and tone deaf-- and had only one tool to work with: his voice! A book of his collected therapeutic stories, My Voice will go with You, remains a favorite. Note the focus of Erickson's work: (a) direct attention inward . . . and (b) verify what was said. In effect, it is focusing with extraordinary attention on the felt (auditory, kinaesthetic and resonant) sense of a word, phrase or experience.

As earlier posts have explored, the interplay between external visual stimuli and "internal" haptic and auditory is critical to effective anchoring, especially in moderating the effects of both internal and external visual distraction and (often) persistent mispronunciations tied to orthography. In pronunciation teaching (and especially HICP), systematic control of both instructor and student voice quality and expressiveness is key to sound learning. But, as Erickson might have suggested, I need not bother trying to convince you of that . . . you feel (and speak) that way already . . .  

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