Case Studies

Case Studies

By Dan Short

January/February 2006

Erickson's Legacy
Strategic therapy rests on skillful information-gathering

Milton Erickson has become a legendary figure among therapists for his skill in standing the traditional idea of "resistance" on its head. With his keen observational skills and his grasp of the multiple dimensions of people's lives, Erickson demonstrated again and again that getting a clear and detailed idea of his clients' unique needs, beliefs, and behavior patterns was the key to successful therapy, especially in cases that hadn't responded to more traditional approaches. Known most of all for his strategic use of existing personality features, he carefully utilized every bit of information
he gathered from the client. The case that follows, inspired by his approach, shows the unfolding of a strategic approach as more and more relevant clinical information emerges.

Sophie entered the office looking defeated and demoralized. Every movement seemed to require effort. She had dark rings under her eyes, her short hair lay flat on her head, and she was obese. The therapist who'd referred her expressed concern that her depression was worsening, despite a regimen of antidepressants and supportive counseling.

On her small frame, Sophie carried 191 pounds. "My arms are larger than most men's thighs," she said wearily. During the previous 12 months, she'd watched her…

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