Milton Erickson, the great hypnotherapist, was once asked to help a depressed, possibly suicidal woman in her sixties. Learn how Erickson helped her using sleight of mouth, rapport and utilizing the client’s own resources.
Milton Erickson, the great hypnotherapist, was once asked to help a depressed, possibly suicidal woman in her sixties. Erickson met her at her home, noticing it was dark and depressing. The one thing the woman was able to get excited about was her greenhouse where she worked with her African violets.
She told Dr. Erickson she was suffering from major depression, but Erickson said no, it was just that she had isolated herself from people. He suggested she get the newsletter published by the local church. In the newsletter, she was to find announcements of births, illnesses, graduations, engagements and marriages. He told her to re pot cuttings of her African violets and deliver them to the people in these announcements with her congratulations or condolences.
Remarkably, she did as he suggested.
At her death, the Milwaukee journal ran a story about her, with the headline “African Violet Queen Of Milwaukee Dies Mourned By Thousands.”
She had spent the rest of her life helping others. As a result, feeling useful, connected and fulfilled.
What was Erickson’s strategy?
1) He used the sleight of mouth “redefine” pattern to reframe her existing belief that she was suffering from major depression, to an easier to handle belief that she just “needed to get out more.”
2) Erickson found an area in her life where she already felt excited (African violets) and connected that to an activity that would take her out of her isolation.
3) He did this with tremendous rapport. Without rapport, she wouldn’t listen to him or follow his suggestions.