Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- the Essence of a Single-Session Success Edited by Stephen R. Lankton and Kristina K. Erickson

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Book Reviews -- the Essence of a Single-Session Success Edited by Stephen R. Lankton and Kristina K. Erickson

Article excerpt

STEPHEN R. LANKTON, M.S.W., AND KRISTINA K. ERICKSON, M.S., M.D., EDS.: The Essence of a Single-Session Success. Brunner/Mazel Publishers, New York, 1994, 164 pp. $26.95.

The first part of The Essence of a Single-Session Success starts with an excerpted verbatim discussion Jay Haley had with Milton Erickson in 1972 about a film Erickson did of a hypnotic demonstration in 1964. The usefulness of this format is limited. Films and video are designed to be seen and lose their impact when they are excerpted, quoted, and then discussed. Erickson is masterful at sizing up context, using language, and utilizing the complexities of paradox to elaborate a particular characteristic of an individual or to induce change. What Erickson is able to do intuitively, others in the book attempt to understand from theoretical perspectives.

The next three chapters by Otani, Feldman, and Edette explain and look at Erickson's techniques from a theoretical perspective. Otani classifies them into context formation, utilization, fusion, violation, destruction, and alteration. This chapter is useful in helping us understand why some of Erickson's approaches at first seem to look almost abusive or irrational, but make sense when understood through the use of cognitive-context conceptualizations. For example, Erickson in a session with a man who sees himself as a moron is told by Erickson that he is a moron. Otani points out how Erickson utilized the contextual framework by emulating the patient's nongrammatical speech pattern and helplessness to evoke a spontaneous trance. The other chapters are also well written and helpful, using tables and diagrams in an instructive way.

The second part of the book is devoted to a single session conducted by Stephen R. …

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