Possibly one of the most influential decisions taken by the original co-developers of NLP was their (understandable yet controversial) choice to emphasise the pragmatic rather than the theoretical foundations of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Controversial in that, whilst is has certain points that recommend it, in the long run it has led to the swamp of mediocrity known as: -œIf it works, it's NLP.-
In the first place, this epigram is such a huge generalization that it is quite obviously not true. For example, cars, telephones, the woman on the till at the supermarket and felt tip pens all -œwork- (at least until they run out of ink - the felt tip pens, that is) - but none of them is NLP.
Secondly, the word -œworks- is so vague that there is no way of telling what -œIf it works it's NLP- actually means. It is, in fact, yet another useless piece of sloganizing of a kind that is becoming so commonplace that the credibility of the NLP techniques as a whole is in question.
With this background in mind serious NLPers will be likely to welcome this new book on the practical aspects of the work of Milton Erickson with open arms.
On the front flap of the cover we are told that the book, subtitled: Understanding the psychotherapeutic strategies of Milton H. Erickson, -œdefines several key components that made [Erickson] successful as a therapist-. And it does, with considerable insight. Which is hardly surprising given that the authors of the English-language version of the book* are a one-time Associate Director of the Milton H. Erickson Foundation (Dan Short), together with two of Erickson's daughters (Betty Alice Erickson and Roxanne Erickson Klein).
(* Other authors have been involved with the preparation of the book in other languages.)
After a fairly brief Biographical Sketch, the majority of the book is given over to what the authors describe as Erickson's Six Core Strategies - namely Distraction, Partitioning, Progression, Suggestion and Reorientation.
Each strategy gets its own chapter, each of which starts with a brief case history and continues with a thorough discussion of how Erickson used the strategy, along with variations on the basic theme where relevant. The book ends with a fairly brief summary, and a final chapter which sets out a practical exercise for each strategy which readers can try out on themselves.
It seems to me that this book, which the authors describe as -œa brief introduction- to Erickson's clinical work, has the very practical purpose of providing readers with a deeper understanding of a selected subset of Erickson's techniques rather than a rather superficial review of everything in sight - and makes a very good job of carrying out that task.
In my opinion the book is indeed a useful, and very practical introduction to Erickson, and in particular, from an NLP perspective it gives a far clearer picture of why Erickson developed and used certain techniques that are all too often taken for granted in the NLP community. Indeed, with all due respect to the original developers of NLP, I was reminded of Erickson's comment, late in life, about the results of Bandler and Grinder's modelling of his work: -œThey have taken the shell,- he is reputed to have said, - but they have left the nut behind.-
At a time when some NLP trainers seem to have carried this process even further and have reduced the techniques to a series of -œmechanical- actions, this book is all the more welcome for helping to remind us what was originally inside the shell.
Highly recommended: * * * * * *