Milton Erickson MD
Milton Erickson focused on the presenting problem and changed the person or family through that focus. He saw therapy as an intervention into the life a person in difficulty in such a way that the person recovers from his “current dilemma” and is shifted to a more successful level of functioning in the real world. Erickson combined discussion and action, with action taking place both in the therapy room and outside of it in the social arena.
He approached each patient with an expectation that change is not only possible but also inevitable. Characteristically, he acted as if change for the better is a natural development. Erickson felt the type of treatment should vary with the nature of the client’s problem. Erickson turned sharply from the belief that a person will change if he learns why he is the way he is or what is behind the presenting problem. He assumes that attempting to make the person more aware would not be helpful.
Erickson believed that symptoms serve a function in the present. He felt the ways the client deals with other people and they with him, produces his feelings of distress and restricted ways of behaving. Erickson said, “Symptoms are like a handle on a pot. If you have a good grip on that handle, you can do a lot with the pot. If you ignore symptoms you never learn to change what the client wanted changed.” The problem of how to change the person becomes one of how to change his relationships.
Erickson believed that a symptom is adaptive to the present social situation and that situation must be changed to change the symptom. Erickson would change the relationships of a client to change the problem. He placed a greater emphasis on the relationship rather than on the individual.