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Milton H. Erickson (1902-1980) is considered by many to be the most influential hypnotherapist in history. His psychiatric and hypnotherapy practice was based in Phoenix, Arizona. Erickson was stricken by polio at the age of nineteen. He set about curing himself by watching and imitating the small babies in his family and the way they began to learn to move their hands and legs. In the process, his sensory perception and non-verbal communication skills were honed. Later, he used these skills to develop non-conventional "Ericksonian Hypnosis."
Want to become a better piano player? Improve your tennis game? Retain more information when you read? There is a hypnosis technique designed to do just that. Under what is called directive hypnosis," you visualize yourself performing a skill successfully. Swing dancing, let's say. Your mind has therefore been trained to envision you being a success, and the results are markedly improved.
Directive hypnosis seems to work well not only for individuals but for groups as well. For example, there is the story of two basketball teams, one of which practiced physically, on the court. The other team met with the coach and visualized performing every play perfectly. Although they did not practice physically, they continued this hypnosis technique over and over. When the latter team played the former, the team that had practiced directive hypnosis won.
In the past, many more therapists practiced directive hypnosis than do today. With this hypnosis technique, the therapist essentially orders you into a trance state. (The basic, "you are getting very sleepy" cliché line most people think of when they think of hypnotists.) Non-directive hypnosis is more "permissive." You are in control and participate freely in your own trance state with the aid of a therapist.
Traditional hypnosis ideology says that there are some people who can be hypnotized and others who cannot. Or, more, accurately, some people are "suggestible" and some are not. Ericksonian Hypnosis technique asserts that anyone can be induced into a trance state of some level. The key is to discover what approach works best for a given subject.
Another form of directive hypnosis is called NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming). In NLP, you use certain phrases or images to alter your feelings about certain fears or desires. This hypnosis technique is extremely helpful for general self-improvement and motivation. It is not recommended for serious psychological problems, however. For deep-rooted issues, it is best to see a psychologist who can get at the source of your difficulties. One these are addressed, hypnosis may be employed.