Ericksonian Hypnosis

What is hypnosis ?

Hypnosis is a natural phenomenon you can experiment in your daily life when your mind is wandering while driving a car, reading a book or watching a film for example.  This trance state is used in hypnotherapy to access your unconscious.

Historical background

Ericksonian hypnosis comes from the practice of Milton Erickson (1901-1980).  This kind of hypnosis is characterised by a flexible, indirect (through images) and non-interventionist approach and is at the origin of many modern psychotherapies like the family therapy, the brief therapy (strategic, systemic), the Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) etc. (cf systemic family therapy).

The Ericksonian hypnosis is used in short psychotherapies because it is generally admitted that 3 to 10 sessions over a few weeks or months are enough.  For serious cases, no relapse or symptom substitution have been observed.  The Milwaukee family therapy centre has conducted a study over 10 years which shows that only one session was needed to solve the problem in 60% of the 5000 cases studied.  And none of these cases had relapse or symptom substitution.


For Milton Erickson, the unconscious is animated by good only and powerful.  It is a benevolent power the hypnotic state must work with.  The unconscious is able to call up inner resources and strengths that can potentially lead to the desired changes.  Ericksonian hypnosis aims at making the conscious and unconscious work together in order to start working on the problem.
Fields of application

  • Addictions: cigarettes, drugs, alcohol..
  • Allergies: pollen, animal hairs, dust
  • Emotional shock - post traumatic syndrome
  • Family conflicts
  • Depression, nervous breakdown, heartsickness
  • Schooling problems
  • Stress management, anxiety management
  • Skin diseases: psoriasis, eczema
  • Phobias: agoraphobia, claustrophobia, scare of heights, fear of blood, fear of lifts, social phobias
  • School phobias
  • Preparations for exams, for sport contests
  • Food disorders: anorexia, bulimia, obesity
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders, manias
  • Sleep disorders
  • Overcoming self-consciousness
  • Mourning
  • etc
What hypnosis is not:

Hypnosis is not an occult science nor a gift.  A hypnotherapist is a fully qualified practitioner who has received formal training along with practice.

The trance state must not be confused with sleep and the patient may leave the trance state whenever he wants to.  Sleep does not help the therapist.  During a session, the patient can hear everything the therapist tells him.  The therapist cannot, under any circumstances, make any harmful suggestion to his patient.

When you are under hypnosis, you speak very little.  For instance, if you start a therapy to stop smoking or to overcome a phobia, you will not speak a lot but if your aim is to overcome a trauma, you will be invited to speak and you will remember everything you said.

What happens during a session?
  • A session can last between 45 and 90 minutes.
  • First, you and your therapist will decide together what the objective of the session will be.
  • Then, your therapist will tell you how the 2 of you will proceed.  If this is your first session, your therapist will test your aptitude for hypnosis.  Then the catalepsy will start after a phase of relaxation during which you will be able to concentrate.
  • Once you are in trance state, you and your therapist will start to work on your problem with techniques, suggestions, images, stories...
  • Once the work is over, the trance state will be terminated.
  • If several sessions are needed to solve the problem, your therapist and yourself will decide on another appointment.