Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- Jay Haley on Milton H. Erickson by Jay Haley

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- Jay Haley on Milton H. Erickson by Jay Haley

Article excerpt

JAY HALEY: lay Haley on Milton H. Erickson. Brunner/Mazel, New York, 1994, 214 pp. $25.95.

This book is a collection of nine previously published articles on Milton Erickson in which Jay Haley presents lucidly his thinking and understanding of what made Erickson a master hypnotherapist and teacher. Haley was a close professional friend of Erickson for many years, studied with him extensively, and observed his therapeutic work in the many public seminars and demonstrations Erickson carried out. Two articles are from the 1960s, three from the 1980s, and four from the 1990s. Erickson was clearly a beloved and highly respected teacher for Haley, who learned many of his skills as a hypnotherapist initially from Erickson.

For this reviewer, who knew of Erickson's reputation as a hypnotherapist and had never read any of his writings, the first three chapters--a brief biography, a commentary on Erickson as a therapist, and an elaboration of his contribution to therapy--were of greatest value. Haley states that Erickson's major ideas stayed within the hypnotic tradition in thinking about psychopathology and therapeutic change. He placed great emphasis on the therapeutic relationship, and his primary interest was in the exploration of diverse techniques for producing therapeutic change. What was most original about Erickson was his consistent flexibility in dealing with any problem before him. Because Erickson was different in the way he dealt with every problem and every patient, and he spoke only in terms of the therapeutic exchange in discussing any therapeutic situation, and often explained himself in metaphors, he never elaborated any body of theory about his work. …

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