Book Reviews of Hope & Resiliency

 ¯ Reader Reviews at Amazon:  What a system Short offers!, May 12, 2007

Dr. Dan Short has constructed a very cohesive system of describing Milton H. Erickson's therapeutic techniques, perhaps the best I have ever seen. Short's six therapeutic strategies of progression, partitioning, distraction, suggestion, reorientation and utilization are elegant constructs that I believe may well organize all human helping behavior.

This is a extremely well organized and easy to understand treatment of Erickson's ingenious methods and may inspire the reader interested in psychotherapy and other forms of human empowerment to consider the ways in which he or she is practicing the craft.

Reviewed by: James R. Webb

 ¯ Reader Reviews at Amazon:  Bringing light to the mystery, December 21, 2005

Two distinct models of psychotherapy are emerging in the 21st century: the empirically based, programmed models and the strategic, humanistic models. Hope and Resiliency will emerge as one of the texts that epitomize the emerging strategic humanistic movements.

In the Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter interview with Scott Miller in the Winter 2005 issue (Vol. 24, No.3), Miller pointed out that techniques and procedures represent only a small percentage of the therapeutic impact in psychotherapy. Instead, it is the therapist's underlying rapport and conviction that makes the difference. Consistent with this strategic humanistic zeitgeist, Hope and Resiliency is more than a mere analysis of Erickson's strategies and techniques. It is a guide in understanding Erickson's perspective on what it means to be human and on what humans can become. Each chapter is a window into the complexity and miracle of what Erickson saw when he watched people interact with their environment and make conscious and unconscious decisions.

An implied assumption in Hope and Resiliency is that if a therapist's internal conviction is that the patient needs fixing, the patient views himself as being broken. If a therapist's internal conviction is that the patient needs curing, the patient views himself as being sick. If a therapist's internal conviction is that the patient already has everything inside that he needs with which to solve his own problem, the patient views himself as being a seeker.

This core section of the book presents strategies for clinical problem-solving. It builds on the core strategies using delightful case examples followed by explanations and elaborations. As one who has read everything about Erickson I can get my hands on, I was happy to discover many previously unpublished examples. As with the first part of the book, the second section is more than a set of how-to techniques. It is an exploration of the roots and branches of Erickson's philosophical tree as seen through concrete applications.

Each subsequent element is presented as though one were looking through a single multi-faceted window into the dynamic maelstrom of humanity. In this way, the authors have avoided having to choose between tactics or strategy by simultaneously presenting each element as both discrete and as an aspect of a larger whole.

I appreciate how the authors elegantly combined the easily readable philosophic elements with practical technique and strategy explanations. At the end of the book there is a summary of pragmatic guidelines that describe contraindications and caveats when applying the strategies with different populations or specific cases. Subsequently, there are concrete exercises that help the practitioner to internalize each of the six strategies.

In the introduction, the authors affirm that, "the content in these chapters is not meant to be memorized as a sort of stale doctrine but rather to serve as a spark for imagination and continued discovery." They are extremely successful in accomplishing their stated goal. It is impossible to read this book without one's mind immediately thinking of how to apply the learnings to one's own patients.

Most importantly, Hope and Resiliency helped me organize many of the learnings I previously internalized from Erickson but did not have pegs upon which to hang the concepts. This is a book I wish I had when I was just starting out. With it I would not have been as intimidated by the immense complexity of Erickson's worldview. To that end, I highly recommend Hope and Resiliency to anyone at any level who values both clarity and the joy of discovery.

Reviewed by: Rick Landis, Ph.D.
Milton H. Erickson Institute for Integrative Medicine

 ¯ Reader Reviews at Amazon:  Like Spending Time with Erickson, January 28, 2006  

Understanding the Psychotherapeutic Strategies of Milton H. Erickson, M.D.” is a wonderful book.  I had the sense while reading it that I was in Erickson’s office and just listening to him talk.  This is a consequence of an informal narrative style wherein the book contains many case studies, comments by Erickson, and comments by his daughters and Short.  I have not seen some of these studies and commentaries before, and they shed a new and continuingly interesting light on this remarkable man and his works.  There are gems like, “Let patients know that they are going to be cured and that it will take place within them.”  And “Often in psychotherapy a change of reference is all that is needed.” and “Erickson’s philosophy of healing was characterized by his attention to the goodness of the patient’s mind and body.

The heart of the book centers around organizing Erickson’s contributions under the categories of: distraction, partitioning, progression, suggestion, reorientation, and utilization.  Although it is next to impossible to characterize or systematize Erickson’s work in simple packets, this organization does lend itself to an useful set of guidelines to the man and his work. 

This book is highly recommended as it provides the reader with some unique perspectives on Erickson’s work, his way of working, and many practical ideas.

Reviewed by: Rubin Battino, MS, LPCC, NCC  
Author: Metaphoria,Guided Imagery and Other Approaches to Healing * Ericksonian Approaches

 ¯ Reader Reviews at Amazon:  A non professional reader...enjoys, April 2, 2007

All my qualification for reading this and reviewing this, is simply the amount of reading I've done in nearly two years now. Covering NLP, hypnosis, REBT and some other odds and ends. So professional, I am not.

The 6 strategies covered, I can see operate in a wider realm. The realm of social influence in fact. Having reread the book several times now, I can see in other therapy modalities these threads running through.

From my own limited understanding, this is certainly an addition to my library that goes way beyond techniques, cookbook formulas and "how-to's". Instead, you have a wider overarching set of concepts to inform therapy in a more flexible, responsive and creative way.

The 6 strategies (it is noted that these are *not* exhaustive, just the main ones to be discussed) are Distraction, Progression, Reframing, Suggestion, Partitioning and Utilization. On later reflection, I realized where some of these apply to rapport building, persuasion as well as engineering social attitudes.

At the time I was reading Cialdini's Influence, and found that the two books together do give me a way to understand propaganda, advertising and sales. Yet this is certainly not the aim of the book in itself. Like any excellent work, it has wider applications than the authors discuss, or where perhaps consciously aware of at the time?

I highly recommend this to hypnotherapists and therapists of any stripe in actual fact. I also recommend it highly to any student of psychology, counseling, advertising (yes, it's way off the curriculum I'm sure) and any agent of influence.

This of course, is only my perspective as one criticism I've had is the sheer number of books I've read in only 2 years means that surely I can't have processed the skills in them properly. Quite right, but I've enjoyed trying :-).

Reviewed by:  Richard Griffiths

 ¯ NBCCH Interlink

Followers of Dr. Milton H. Erickson are sure to find pleasure and education in Hope and Resiliency: Understanding the Psychotherapeutic Strategies of Milton H. Erickson.

The authors provide a fresh analysis of his philosophy and psychotherapeutic work. Dr. Dan Short has teamed up with two of Erickson's daughters to write this book that is based on case histories, Erickson's own writings, and personal anecdotes from Betty Alice Erickson and Roxanne Erickson Klein. The book begins with a biographical history of Erickson's life and then explains six therapeutic strategies that the authors consider to be the basic cornerstones of his professional success with clients for whom he was often a "port of last resort."

Biographical History

Milton H. Erickson was born in 1901 in the Nevada Sierras in a log cabin with a dirt floor, the second of nine children born to Albert and Clara Erickson. His was a farming family. At age 19 he was stricken with polio and the paralysis left him an invalid; so ill in fact that at one point the family doctor told his mother that her son would die by the next morning.

Through an arduous year of self-rehabilitation, the young Erickson learned to walk again and attended the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 1927 with a medical degree in psychiatry. He held many appointments at prestigious institutions; his last spanned 14 years at Wayne County Hospital near Detroit.

He had three children by his first marriage and five more by his second wife, Elizabeth, his life-long partner. In the late 1940s he moved to Phoenix, Arizona and began a private practice. He also traveled as a lecturer, writer, and consultant and was a nationally recognized expert on clinical hypnosis. In 1957 he founded the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.

During the last three decades of his life, post-polio syndrome brought constant, debilitating pain and paralysis. Nevertheless, he continued working from his home, even while confined to a wheelchair. Throughout those years he exuded a love of life, a delight in simple pleasures, a quick wit, a sharp mind, and a keen sense of humor. His life was characterized by hope and resiliency and these were the gifts he gave to colleagues, patients, and students.

Erickson's Approach to Psychotherapy

Part II of Hope and Resiliency describes Erickson's therapeutic approach: the fundamental dynamics of healing and the clinical relationship as Erickson saw them and applied them. Erickson, for example, did not promote the concept of "cure". Instead, he was interested in helping people adjust to their circumstances. While he worked to reduce suffering, he did not expect perfection from his patients. He encouraged them to make small changes that often led to bigger accomplishments.

He recognized that learning requires effort and exhorted his patients to take action to solve their problems, no matter how small or insignificant those actions might seem. Erickson took a holistic view of physical and mental health, always working from within each patient's frame of reference. He respected the right of personal choice. He re-educated his patients through experiential learning.

Erickson favored and fostered a relationship of trust and collaboration with his patients (even children) believing that the therapist should "always let patients follow their own spontaneous ways of doing things." His style was to offer possibilities, support individual growth, and let each person find a unique path to healing. Respect for individuality was Erickson's hallmark.

Six Core Clinical Strategies

"It is difficult to find another single approach to psychotherapy that incorporates as many strategies for healing as the Erickson approach." (p. 37)

The authors delineate six core clinical strategies that Erickson used as the foundation of his work. A chapter is devoted to each strategy. These six strategies are listed below, with brief definitions.

Distraction: This strategy relies on directing the patient's attention away from the problem toward a seemingly irrelevant task, another problem or challenge, a capability, or another aspect of the problem previously not considered. The shift in attention often solves the original problem or causes the patient to move beyond a limitation, by doing something that previously seemed impossible.

Partitioning: This process involves re-chunking and restructuring the symptom in terms of complexity, goals, duration, resources and attention. By breaking the problem into smaller unites, small successes are more easily achieved. One example is "splitting": proposing the existence of opposites as two or more components of the problem or solution, each of which can be addressed separately.

Progression: This method employs the incremental use of assignments and/or instructions to increase the patient's response. Erickson had his patients start out with small successes and discoveries that gradually led to larger ones. He once stated, "Even the smallest breakthrough can serve as the foundation on which other accomplishments are built."

Suggestion: Essentially, suggestion is the basis of all therapy. Erickson made the point that the therapist's confidence in his or her ability conveys a powerful suggestion that the patient will be helped.

Reorientation: This is assigning new interpretations of events, creating new meanings and asking questions that create insights. Additional methods include externalizing the problem, and changing one's perspective with respect to time (age regression, age progression, and time distortion).

Utilization: This is recognizing and using the patient's behavioral, emotional and intellectual predispositions as a fundamental treatment component. "A previously unrecognized potential is employed to achieve any outcome that will be helpful or appealing to the individual." (p. 189)

The authors note that the six strategies are not mutually exclusive and do not constitute an exhaustive list of Erickson's methods, but are only a "brief introduction" to the full range of Erickson's work. The authors prudently discuss contraindications for each strategy. They remind readers of the principal directive of Erickson's teachings: Structure each therapeutic intervention for the needs and personality of the individual.

Referring to the title of this book, the authors point out that hope promotes healing and reduces suffering. Erickson inspired hope by engaging patients in the therapeutic process---giving them tasks to perform and implying that by performing such tasks the client would derive beneficial results. Erickson encouraged resiliency by helping patients find an inner source of personal strength and capability, even in the face of disability.


Erickson-inspired therapists will truly enjoy Hope and Resiliency as an addition to the ever-expanding body of literature on the world's best-known hypnotherapist. This book's unique contribution is the thorough description of the six core strategies of Erickson's work. The case studies and anecdotes from the Erickson archives make for great reading as well as apt illustrations of the strategies.

This book shows that Erickson used more than hypnosis in his approach. His ability to align himself with his patients, assess their personalities and eccentricities, put their symptoms and strengths into new perspectives, and his creativity in prescribing solution-oriented assignments were as essential to his many successes as his skill in clinical hypnosis. The authors give insights into Erickson's reasoning as well as the manner in which he laid the groundwork to ensure each patient's compliance and acceptance.

Even 25 years after his death, there is still a fascination with the genius of Milton Erickson and as Short, Erickson, and Klein prove, there is still more to learn about this remarkable physician.

Reviewed by: Judith E. Pearson, Ph.D., L.P.C.

 ¯ American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis: Hope and Resiliency comes from a collaborative effort among three Erickson experts: Dan Short, Ph.D. a psychologist and former Associate Director for the Milton H. EricksonFoundation, and two of Erickson’s daughters; Betty Alice Erickson, MS, LPC, a professional counselor and international Ericksonian educator, and Roxanna Erickson Klein, RN, Ph.D., a practicing nurse and member of the Board of Directors of the Milton H. Erickson Foundation. The book draws on the authors’ personal experiences as well as on immersion in hundreds of hours of audio recordings by Erickson. It includes several previously unpublished case vignettes. 

This book adds to the cornucopia of publications explicating Erickson’s work, but it brings accessible, broad, encompassing strokes to his treatment philosophy and methods. The authors’ draw on their well articulated conviction that, “Without having sufficient hope or resiliency, vast amounts of external resources can be poured into what is essentially a vacuum of despair and surrender” (p. xi). The scope of the book is expansive in that the authors have included formal explications of Erickson’s fundamental therapeutic values and strategic approaches, copious and often original case examples as well as an almost homespun narrative biographical account of his life. In addition, the book includes a didactic structure with chapter summaries, caveats on limitations and contraindications for specific techniques and a series of “Self-Development Exercises” in the appendix. This suggests that the book is conceived of as a stimulating tutorial for the reader who is presumed to be a clinician, but not necessarily an Ericksonian practitioner. But the authors warn that Erickson’s techniques are presented not to be uncritically imitated when they write that: “An understanding of clinical strategies fosters less dependency on predetermined procedures and greater use of clinical judgment” (p. 36). In addition to all of this, as noted in the excellent forward by Stephen Lankton, the process of creating the volume intentionally involved a novel approach to international collaboration, in that colleagues from several different countries were invited to modify drafts of the book to create culturally specific adaptations which would make it internationally accessible. 

The book is organized into two main sections. The first section is a personal biographical sketch of Erickson’s life. This insider’s view presents a Mark Twain-like narrative of Erickson’s childhood. This gives the reader a warm, human understanding of the man, as well as several illustrations of how his life experiences germinated and grew into the vital structure of his work. For example, the authors tie Erickson’s use of confusion strategies and “therapeutic shock” to an early lesson in spelling courtesy of a beloved teacher who understood both Erickson’s reading disorder and his hunger for reading. “His teacher highlighted the most important features of the symbol ‘3’ by turning it on its side. Erickson explains that in a blinding flash of light he suddenly saw the difference between a ‘3’ and an ‘m’ (p. xvii). The thrust of the biographical narrative section of the book is an object lesson of how the adversities and challenges of Erickson’s formative years (including dyslexia, color blindness, tone deafness, and in late adolescence, poliomyelitis) informed both the personal and professional cultivation of dogged determination, hope and resiliency. 

The second section, which is by far the larger part, creates and fleshes out an armature of the basic strategic principles and treatment approaches that Erickson developed. It seeks to present his therapeutic strategies and techniques not from a schematic overview, but rather from the inside out, which is accomplished by using copious case examples that stimulate the reader to review and associate to his/her own clinical experiences. The authors have also used a wide angle lens in a chapter entitled, “A Philosophic Framework”, to conceptualize Erickson’s vantage point in the realms of philosophy and history. This is done with a wide range of references that include among others, Aristotle, explanations of the meaning of meta-teleology, an anonymous Saudi poet, and Viktor Frankl. 

The organizing principle of this section of the book is the authors’ own nomenclature which they employ in order to delineate the principles, philosophy, and therapeutic applications of what they call Erickson’s Six Core Strategies. Through this framework, the reader is led through the various cases which provide clarification of these approaches from many different angles. The authors call the six strategies: Distraction, Partitioning, Progression, Suggestion, Reorientation, and Utilization, and they have allocated a chapter to each. 

The specific definitions ascribed to these are beyond the scope of this review. Although some of these terms form part and parcel of hypnotic terminology (Suggestion and Utilization for example), others seem to have been appropriated and re-defined by the authors. I wonder why they felt it necessary to do this, as it is the only significant drawback, in my view, to this otherwise illuminating book. For example, the strategy the authors have dubbed “Reorientation” the shift in vantage point, sometimes called “re-framing,” which allows the patient to deeply see his/her dilemma through a new perspective. This experience can then lead to a therapeutic shift from self-denigration to self-affirmation and to the patient being able to find a previously unseen path through a personal roadblock. As an example, the book cites a delightful Erickson case recounted by Haley in which a medical student and his bride were seeking an annulment because of his inability to obtain an erection to consummate the marriage. By “re-orienting” the bride and groom to the notion that the husband was paying her a compliment because undoubtedly his difficulties stemmed from his excess awe at her beauty, the story proceeds to say that “the young couple nearly stopped the car on the way back to Detroit in order to have intercourse” (Haley, 1985, Vol. II, pp.118-119, as cited on p.162). This kind of case provides the delightful “shock and awe,” a kind of one trial learning for the reader who can only aspire to such brilliance. 

The only problem with this, in my view, may be that students of hypnosis will have previously associated the conceptual meaning of “reorientation” with the emergence from a trance state. A similar confounding word use is implicit in the chapter on “Progression,” which is used in this book to describe a large schema resulting in paced therapeutic progress. In this chapter, the authors illustrate techniques of geometric progression, progressive desensitization, progressive relaxation, pattern interruption, and Erickson’s famous pseudoorientation in time. But again, potential confusion arises for the reader accustomed to associating the term with age progression.

In sum though, in this lovely, scholarly and heartfelt book the authors emphasize the heart and soul of Erickson’s work. It is not so much a book about hypnosis, but more one about the genesis of healing.

Throughout, the authors emphasize that the foundation of Erickson’s healing work was his ability to convey his deeply held belief in the “goodness and resourcefulness of the mind, the understandable innocence of childhood, and/or the miraculous construction of the body” (p 159). Although broadly and deeply conceived, this book is neither chaotic nor overwhelming. Indeed, it succeeds very well in drawing the reader into a permissive and immersive experience of a learning trance as it moves through the myriad panes and vantage points of a delightful Ericksonian hologram. 

Reviewed by: Carol Ginandes, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

 ¯ The keys to truly being able to help another human being include: hope that they can get better, belief that they can change, a willingness to enter into and empathise with their client's reality, their models of the world, a structure or framework for wholeness, within which to work, flexible strategies and techniques to help move a person towards wholeness, a willingness to 'go first' or experience the techniques and tools of therapeutic change oneself.

The authors of Hope and Resiliency cut through the vast amount of written material by and about Milton H Erickson MD's therapeutic work, to present the functional principles and framework for how change happens.  The authors are amply qualified for this task: Dan Short spent two years reorganising and preserving the Erickson archive; Betty Alice Erickson and Roxanna Erickson Klein are two of Dr Erickson's daughters, both professionally accredited with years of experience.


They identify and present 6 key clinical strategies in detail, well illustrated by Erickson's own words and case examples. Milton Erickson suggested that "you should read a good book backwards": start with the last chapter and read back to the first, "then re-read it front to back and you will have a marvellous experience." Do this with this book, and you will have a good overview and working knowledge of Erickson's work. Then make sure you do the exercises in Appendix A at least twice, and you will gain greatly in understanding and facility with these techniques. 


This book is recommended for: Therapists, counsellors, psychotherapists, NLP practitioners and master practitioners, hypnotherapists, life coaches. Also for any helping professionals and anyone wanting to gain a greater understanding of their own psyche and how to create positive change.


Summary: Hope and Resiliency is clear and accessible, while still providing satisfying depth.

Reviewed by: Susanna Bellini
Bronze Dragon Training (

 ¯ Human Givens Magazine, England:  Having trained as a therapist some fifteen years ago, I find it difficult to say whether this book would be easier for beginning therapists to understand than some of the books about Ericksonian strategies which were available when I was just starting out. From my standpoint in the present, I found this book extremely easy to understand and very useful indeed, in that it not only explains what Erickson was doing when he performed a particular strategy but it also gives a case study for virtually every instance, making the whole thing much easier to grasp than I have ever before found Ericksonian strategies to be.

The extra good thing about this book is that the reader is advised not to do therapy just like Erickson did it but to adapt each strategy to their own particular way of working with clients. Erickson himself said that therapy is not static but must evolve and be tailored to suit each individual client, which is what he did all the time. 

I, personally, think that this book would be a useful addition to the library of any therapist who is fascinated by the way Erickson worked but who has never quite grasped the methods he used to their own satisfaction. It will also serve as a reminder to those who do use his strategies but have, perhaps, forgotten the existence of some, due to not having used them for some time.

Reviewed by: Amanda Lowe 
Author: Bliss





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