Ericksonian hypnosis, what is it?

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It describes a very specific form of hypnosis. Unlike traditional hypnotherapy, Ericksonian hypnotherapy uses indirect suggestion, metaphor and storytelling to alter behavior, rather than direct suggestion.

Ericksonian hypnosis, what is it?

Milton Erickson is considered by many as ‘the father of modern hypnotherapy’.

Definition of Ericksonian hypnosis

Therapeutic hypnosis is a discipline that allows access to the reservoir of unconscious resources of each individual. Thus, thanks to the many tools available to the practitioner, the latter becomes a guide in the process of change and learning desired by the person who consults him. You will discover in this sheet what Ericksonian hypnosis is, when this practice was created, in which cases it is indicated, what are its benefits, how a typical session takes place and who practices it.


Ericksonian hypnosis is one of the most influential and widespread branches of therapeutic hypnosis.

She is particularly respectful of the person because the language used by the practitioner is permissive. The practitioner is attentive, he adapts his style of speech and approach to the person he receives. It relies on metaphors, anecdotes and indirect suggestions in order to remove resistance to change and allow the person to access their own resources to implement the desired changes.


Doctor Milton Hyland Erickson (1901-1980) is considered the father of modern hypnotherapy.

His influence in the world of hypnosis is significant; today the vast majority of hypnosis practitioners use the Ericksonian approach in one form or another.

Born in Nevada (USA) at the beginning of the 20th century, his childhood was punctuated by dysfunctions such as color blindness , dyslexia and lack of perception of rhythms. Suffering from polymetry at the age of 17, he plunged into a coma and became paralyzed. At first glance, Erickson seems like an unlikely candidate for someone whose destiny will be to revolutionize the practice of hypnosis.

In a wheelchair and convinced that he can overcome his paralysis, he devotes all his time to mentally stimulating his limbs (by doing self-hypnosis) and will train for months to regain his motor skills, successfully.

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He became a psychiatrist and turned the practice of psychotherapy upside down with his approach, which he first tested on himself, particularly in terms of pain management.

Very quickly, he became the man of lost causes to whom all the “difficult” patients in the United States were directed.

Indications and benefits

The fields of application of therapeutic hypnosis are very vast and often surprising.

We find that hypnosis has effects on three levels:

  • At the physical level: on psychosomatic manifestations, pain management, dermatological disorders, preparation for childbirth, etc.
  • At the behavioral level: addictions (tobacco, alcohol, etc.), management of excess and weight loss, preparation and improvement of the quality of sleep, physical recovery for athletes, shyness, phobias, etc.
  • At the level of personal and emotional development: management of stress and emotions, preparation for competitions, exams, job interview, support during a career change, self-confidence and self-esteem, development of creativity…

We must keep in mind that, even if we observe that hypnosis can have a strong impact on the return to health of patients, this practice does not cure. Hypnosis allows the patient to connect to his natural resources and improve his own recovery capacities. It does not replace appropriate medical monitoring.

How does a hypnosis session take place?

A session lasts about an hour depending on the practitioner. It is by first discussing with the practitioner that the person decides on the objective of his session. This generally starts with a phase of relaxation, called “induction”, which leads to a state of hyper-concentration, called “altered state of consciousness”. Attention ! It’s not about sleep or loss of consciousness. 

On the contrary, the person hears, in a state of hyper-consciousness, as if captivated by a film. Then, the practitioner uses suggested images and stories to guide the individual towards their goal. During the session, the person under hypnosis hears everything the practitioner says to him and can even interact with him. The time to solve a problem depends on each person, this is why you should not hesitate to discuss with your practitioner in order to determine the number of sessions necessary to achieve the objective set. This approach is aimed at all types of subjects, except those who suffer from psychosis.

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Training: who can practice?

An Ericksonian hypnosis practitioner is a qualified person who has received theoretical and practical training and then certification.

There is no need to be a doctor to practice Ericksonian hypnosis, because it uses notions far removed from medicine. It should also be remembered that hypnosis is not intended to cure but rather to accompany the person.

Like Milton Erickson, we often see that hypnotherapists are people who have had another life experience, often dense, before doing this job. Practitioners use it most of the time in their practice, which makes each therapist special.

Thus the hypnotherapist is often a specialist in a field which he himself has fought successfully.

Finally, let us mention that the field of hypnosis is not yet regulated in France. Thus, to find a therapist, it is useful today to go through groups of therapists (such as the site) which have set up a quality charter and which have the means to evaluate the therapists they integrate.

To date, the National Syndicate of Hypnotherapists’ mission is to supervise excesses in the field of hypnotherapy, in particular thanks to a directory of selected hypnotherapists.

The opinion of the specialists

Alina Pekic, Hypnotherapist

Ericksonian hypnosis is very respectful of the values ​​of the person and his environment. It is a fast, flexible, indirect (through the visualization of images) and non-invasive approach. It is at the origin of modern brief psychotherapies such as Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) and systemic therapies.

However, hypnosis is not a substitute for medicine. It is a complementary approach. It should be remembered that only doctors can make a diagnosis, make recommendations or prescriptions, and it should always be pursued.

Ericksonian hypnosis excels in its approach to personal development. It can provide interesting solutions for managing stress in the workplace, academic success, preparation for competitions, support during a career change, the achievement of sporting objectives, physical recovery and the development of self-confidence and many more.

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This rapidly expanding brief therapy makes it possible to benefit from the mobilization of all the resources necessary to effect the desired long-term changes.

Lionel Vernois, Hypnotherapist

Ericksonian hypnosis is a wonderful, pleasant and quick way to transform what you no longer want and finally change.

In general, three sessions are enough to achieve the objectives set.

The results are very often surprising, which makes it a discipline that is sometimes misunderstood. Let’s say that hypnosis sometimes simply allows you to remove the little grain of sand that is blocking it so that the machine that you thought was broken starts up again as if by magic, even if it’s not magic but rather scholarly communication.

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Finally, a hypnosis session is most of the time a wonderful moment of relaxation and escape with often a lot of emotion that we remember for so long because it is very pleasant to be able to reconnect with things that we thought lost or forgotten.

Note, to finish, that there is a personal attitude to have when one consults. You have to be humble and open, as humble as possible with yourself and what you expect to be able to let yourself be guided by the therapist, like in a dance. It’s the way to get a lot more than you came for!



Erickson, MH, & Rossi, EL (1999). The Complete Articles of Milton H.  Erickson on Hypnosis ,  4 , 1999-2001.

Erickson, MH, & Havens, RA (1992). The wisdom of Milton H. Erickson: Hypnosis and hypnotherapy  (Vol. 1). Ardent Media.

ERICKSON, MH, & ROSSI, E. (1978). February Man.

Erickson, BA, & Keeney, B. (2006). Dr. Milton H. Erickson, American physician and healer.

National Union of Hypnotherapists. (Accessed April 22, 2017).

Francophone Association of Psychotherapists in Brief Therapies (AFPTB). (Accessed April 19, 2017).

French Federation of Hypnosis and Brief Therapies (FFHTB). (Accessed April 19, 2017).

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