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The milton model

Milton H EricksonThe Milton Model is named after Milton H. Erickson (1901 - 1980), an American psychiatrist specialising in medical hypnosis and family therapy.

During his lifetime Milton was widely considered to be the world's greatest medical hypnotist and he was widely known for his successful and often 'miraculous' work with 'impossible' clients, as well as for his extensive writings on hypnosis.

An attack of anterior poliomyelitis at the age of 17 rendered Erickson almost totally paralysed for several months, but with his vision, hearing and thinking unimpaired.

Quarantined at home on the farm Erickson whiled away the hours by turning his attention to the observation and study of human behaviour, particularly that of his parents, eight siblings, and the practical nurse responsible for his care.

Having already a little knowledge of body language and other forms of non-verbal communication, Erickson was amazed to discover the frequent and often startling contradictions between the verbal and non-verbal communications within a single interchange.

This aroused so much of his interest that he intensified his observations at every opportunity and began to develop the patterns he would later use in his hypnotic techniques.

Erickson's continued study of human behaviour and his need to make his way in the world and make a living for himself led him into the medical profession where he was an avid student. Such was his fascination with psychiatry that he got a psychology degree while he was still studying medicine.

Richard Bandler and John Grinder met with Erickson on a regular basis and engaged in careful and systematic observation of Erickson's work in order to ascertain how he performed his theraputic 'miracles'.

They discovered that whilst the behaviours demonstrated by Erickson in the induction and utilisation of hypnotic states of consciousness were extremely complex, he was very systematic i.e. his behaviour had distinctive patterns.

Bandler and Grinder then used their skills to build explicit models or maps of Erickson's complex behaviours, maps which could in turn be used to teach Erickson's skills to others in a clear and systematic way.

The model that Bandler and Grinder constructed from their studies of Erickson became affectionately known as the Milton Model.

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