Therapeutic Techniques

Steven Leeds and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy


Milton H. Erickson, M.D. is considered the father of modern hypnotherapy. The therapy he engendered, Ericksonian hypnotherapy, is one of the fastest growing and influential branches of hypnotherapy today. His methods have inspired short-term strategic therapy, the rebirth of guided imagery, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to name a few. Even John Bradshaw in both of his acclaimed series on PBS, frequently quotes Erickson and calls him “the greatest therapist who ever lived.”


Steven, following in the path of Erickson, believes in the wisdom of the unconscious mind, and in the theory that people have all the resources necessary to make changes inside themselves. For Steven, the job of the therapist is to help the client re-establish his/her connection with his/her inner resources and to develop a rapport between the conscious and the unconscious mind. Steve’s approach is to create a soothing, rhythmic flow designed to engage the listener, experientially, in the present moment and in doing so, activate the connection to the flow of unconscious resources in the form of inner symbols, sounds and bodily sensations promoting healing and well being.


Ericksonian Hypnotherapy uses more of what is referred to as indirect suggestions. Indirect suggestions are much harder to resist because they are often not even recognized as suggestions by the common mind, since they usually disguise themselves as stories or metaphors. An example of an indirect suggestion is “Perhaps your eyes will grow tired as you listen to this story, and you will want to close them, because people can, you know, experience a pleasant, deepening sense of comfort as they allow their eyes to close, and they relax deeply.” This would all be said in such a way as to mark out key words and phrases by subtle shifts in the tone of voice. The person’s unconscious awareness thus responds to these “imbedded commands.”

Steven Leeds and Dr. Rachel Hott are the co-directors of the NLP Center of New York.