Dr. Erickson: Heattended the University of Wisconsin and received his medical degree at the Colorado General Hospital, simultaneously receiving his master's degree in psychology.
After completing special training at the Colorado Psychopathic Hospital, he became a junior psychiatrist at Rhode Island State Hospital. In 1930 he joined the staff of the Worcester (Massachusetts) State Hospital and became chief psychiatrist of the Research Service. Four years later he went to Eloise,Michigan, as director of psychiatric research and training at Wayne County General Hospital and Infirmary. He was also associate professor of psychiatry at the Wayne State University College of Medicine and professor in the graduate school. Concurrently, he was briefly a visiting professor of clinical psychology at Michigan State University, in East Lansing. In 1948 he settled in Phoenix, Arizona, largely for his health, and entered private practice. He is a Fellow of both the American is Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, as well as aFellow of the American Psychopathological Association.
In addition to being an honorary member of numerous societies of medical hypnosis in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, he was the founding president of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis as well as editor of that society's professional journal. His professional life since 1950 has included both a busy private practice in Phoenix and constant traveling to offer seminars and lectures throughout the United States and in many foreign countries.
It is characteristic of Erickson to be intensely involved with a person, and the patient who receives his full attention experiences the impact of his personality. Yet other therapists with different personalities and less involvement can use many of his techniques.
Erickson can be considered the master in the strategic approach to therapy. He has long been known as the world's leading medical hypnotist, having spent his life doing experimental work and using hypnosis in therapy in an infinite variety of ways. What is less well known is the strategic approach he has developed for individuals, married couples, and families without the formal use of hypnosis.
For many years, he has conducted a busy psychiatric practice dealing with every kind of psychological problem and with families at every stage of life. Even when he does not formally use hypnosis, his style of therapy is so based upon the hypnotic orientation that whatever he does appears to have its origins in that art. He has brought to therapy an extraordinary range of hypnotic techniques, and he has also brought to hypnosis an expansion of ideas that have broadened hypnosis beyonda ritual to a special style of communication.
One way to view the strategic therapy of Milton
Erickson is as a logical extension of hypnotic technique. Out of hypnotic training comes skill in observing people and the complex ways they communicate, skill in motivating people to follow directives, and skill in using one's own words, intonations, and body movements to influence other people. Also out of hypnosis come a conception of people as changeable, an appreciation of the malleability of space and time, and specific ideas about how to direct another person to become more autonomous. Just as a hypnotist can think of transforming a severe symptom into a milder one, or one of shorter duration, he can think of shifting an interpersonal problem into an advantage