Excerpts from More Common Therapy

In anticipation of the publication of my book, More Common Therapy: The Experiential Psychotherapy of Jeffrey K. Zeig, Ph.D., I am posting excerpts from the book. This first one is from Part 1 of the book: Communication. You will find it in the section entitled, "Congruence of Words and Acts."

In Jeff’s work with Marilyn, who is looking to be more respectful of her own time, he asks, “Is there a reference for seeing someone in life who was acting in a way that was respectful and suddenly you saw it and just took a picture of it and it was put in the scrapbook of your mind and that was an example of someone being respectful?” Framing the invitation to recall an example of someone behaving in a respectful manner within the metaphor of a photograph, which can be placed in the scrapbook of her mind, is designed to create a reference experience. Part of what facilitates and promotes the creation and establishment of this reference experience is the way in which Jeff snaps his head and blinks his eyes, mimicking the shutter of a camera, as he implies that she has just taken a picture of the example she will recall. The fluidity of the gesture within the stream of communication is likely to be unrecognized by the conscious mind but registered within the unconscious mind. One of the functions of congruence between words and acts is to promote this type of limbic communication. 9-6-19

Excerpt from Part 4: Strategy- Experiential.

If you don’t know how to change a flat tire, you need instructions for how to do that. If you want to change someone’s sense of self, simply providing information is not likely to work. This is the domain and purpose of experiential work. When we experience something like an arm levitation or some other hypnotic phenomenon, it calls for a reconciliation. Having an experience, one that is crafted to be evocative and impactful, catalyzes the tumblers of one’s self-experience and creates a mutative opportunity. Whether it is the need to account for the experience or the desire to create alignment between one’s actions and one’s self-perception, the need to incorporate the experience into a coherent narrative creates the space within which change and growth take place.

#MoreCommonTherapy #JeffZeig #Experientialpsychotherapy 11-15-19

It was a real treat getting to present at the International Erickson Congress in Phoenix last week. In addition to it having been a wonderful learning experience and an opportunity to meet with friends old and new, my book, More Common Therapy: The experiential psychotherapy of Jeffrey K. Zeig, Ph.D., was released.

This week's excerpt comes from the compass point, Strategy and addresses the experiential dimension of therapeutic work.

One of my favorite self-hypnotic techniques is “5-4-3-2-1.” I like it because it is simple, easy to teach, and effective. Working with three sensory modalities: visual, auditory, and tactile, the client is instructed to select one and then list five things being sensed in that modality. For example, a client will note five iterations of “Now I am hearing…” This is then repeated with the remaining modalities. The cycle begins again this time with 4, then 3, then 2 and concludes with 1 experience in each of the three sensory modalities. Taste and olfaction can be tailored to clients who are, for example, foodies.

It is awareness that makes this such a powerful tool in the cultivation of experiential work. Inviting a client, who is seated with her hands on her thighs to note the place where the ventral side of her left pinky loses contact with the denim of her jeans, is mildly confusing in its specificity. It also serves to focus her awareness in an acute manner. This is exactly the kind of absorption and narrowing of attention to which Shor (1959) was referring when he spoke about a reduction in the generalized reality orientation. The awareness of being a patient sitting on a couch in a therapist’s office where you wish to address your concerns about your “problem” immediately evaporates as you search for that spot on the ventral side of your left pinky. Experiential work is not simply distracting someone, it is engaging the person in new and creative ways, ways that invite the client to experience, own, and utilize the strengths and resources that he possesses. Our task as clinicians is to strategically orchestrate opportunities for these mutative moments to happen. What follows are ways in which we can do that.

#MoreCommonTherapy #JeffZeig #ExperientialPsychotherapy #EricksonCongress 12-20-19

I am looking forward to attending the Erickson Congress next week. In addition to learning from friends and colleagues, my book, More Common Therapy: The Experiential Psychotherapy of Jeffrey K. Zeig, PhD., will be released.

This week's excerpt comes from the introduction to the Compass Point, Interpersonal.

The process of psychotherapy is at times arduous and emotionally demanding. Part of what allows the people with whom we work to engage in this process is the therapeutic relationship. Although most clinicians will acknowledge the relationship as a significant factor in the therapeutic process, how that relationship develops and what bearing it has in and on the therapy is not as well articulated. In this compass point, the interpersonal dimension of Jeff’s work will be the focal point from which we can develop a better appreciation of how that relationship is cultivated, what it looks like, and the ways in which it can be harnessed and utilized. Many of the interactions I cite will be brief, designed to offer a sense of the range and depth of interpersonal factors and their impact on the therapeutic process. Other examples will be presented in greater detail, allowing the reader to develop a subtler and more nuanced feel for the intricacies of these interpersonal factors. It is, after all, the relationship — its confines, boundaries, and intimacies — that provides the safety and security that allow our clients the space in which to explore who they are, the influences that impact them, and who they want to be.

#MoreCommonTherapy #JeffZeig #ExperientialPsychotherapy #EricksonCongress 12-6-19

This week's excerpt comes from the Compass Point, Strategy and offers a novel take on metaphors.

Metaphors tend to be thought of as linguistic devices. Although this is certainly true, gestures and paraverbal aspects of communication can also be employed metaphorically. When we speak in a normal conversational tone, the implication is that this is a social discourse. When we alter our voice, perhaps changing the tone or pacing of our words and or the direction toward which we locate our voice, we are implying that something is different. Depending on the context and the timing, these paraverbal alterations have communicative impact akin to metaphors. Just as abstract targets like love, beauty, and joy can be conveyed via metaphorical sources, intimating that an obsessional thought process can be supplanted by a deeper sense of calm can be communicated by utilizing alterations in our rate of speaking as the source.

#MoreCommonTherapy #JeffZeig #ExperientialPsychotherapy 11-22-19

This week's excerpt comes from the compass point, Communication, and speaks about gestures.

Gestures can be employed to augment or enhance the delivery of a message; what Jeff refers to as “gift wrapping.” In his work with, Leonard, a young man who is struggling with relationships, Jeff “jokes” about how the women in the class will come up to him during the break and offer him advice on relationships. He then launches into an analogy employing a chessboard and the different pieces. “Do you know how a chessboard looks?” Jeff holds his hands, shoulder width apart. “And you have the castles.” Jeff shakes each hand. “And you have the King and the Queen.” He moves his hands on the same line more towards the center of his body. “And each one has their castle.” He moves his hands back out to the original position. “And the castle is like, symbolically, their family of origin.” Each time he indicates a piece, he looks at the hand he is using to represent it as if he is actually seeing the piece there. One could call this a type of vivification — employing gestures and other paraverbal elements to bring an idea, image, or experience alive. “And then each one has their Bishop.” Here, he moves his hands from this outside position a bit more towards the center. “And their Bishop could, symbolically, be their religion. The King has his religion, the Queen has hers.” Moving his hands out a bit he says, “And then there’s the knight, and the knight is like this fantasy person that could be in each of our lives. And we wonder how would life be different if we went off with the knight.” Jeff now raises his hands, palms up, in a gesture that connotes: Poof, something magical could happen. “And that seems to serve a universal function, like if we went around to everyone in the room (said with a sweeping gesture of his left arm towards the people sitting in the room) and we asked them casually, `Is there a knight somewhere in the recesses of your consciousness?’ and each one of us would have a knight who we wonder how would life have been different if we had gone with that knight?” Jeff’s head snaps forward as he emphasizes the word “that.” This is the initial part of the message he is delivering. It is his way of setting up the message he wants to deliver.

Later in this session, Jeff shifts the subject from the realm of fantasy represented by the knight to the real world of scientific exploration. Although he shifts the subject, he continues with the theme of pursuing the elusive. He does so by noting how many scientists dedicate their lives to pursuing the elusive. “And pursuing the elusive has kept many scientists in business. And they persist, and persist, and persist in pursuing the elusive and sometimes, it pays off.” He punctuates each iteration of this phrase by tapping the back of his hand against his thigh. Jeff is sending a message here, “You are free to pursue this woman and it might even pay off.” He is, however, gift wrapping the message. With the description of what the chess pieces symbolically represent and how the pursuit of the elusive keeps many a scientist employed and, for some, even pays off, he is communicating that he can do as he pleases but should do it mindfully. The stories and gestures are the ribbons and the bows that adorn the gift, heightening its appeal and making it easier to take in.

#morecommontherapy #JeffZeig #ExperientialPsychotherapy 11-29-19

This weeks excerpt from More Common Therapy is another example of praverbal communication. In it, Jeff is working with a woman who is post cardiac surgery. She has presented concerns about a tightness she feels in her chest that she fears is an indication of an unresolved cardiac issue.

One can also employ paraverbal markers to create or potentiate implications. In the beginning of Jeff’s work with Salena, he responds to her concerns about the potential significance of the occasional somatic sensations she experiences in her chest by simultaneously assessing and orienting her to the success of her surgical procedure. He asks, “And what did they tell you about the surgery? They said the surgery was a success?” Salena affirms that the surgery was successful. Jeff continues, “Okay, and they said that what additional care may...you...need in the future?” The way that Jeff emphasizes “may” and the singsong way in which he tilts his head from left to right to punctuate his words are elements of paraverbal communication. The implication created by his use of the word “may” is that further care and corrective actions may neither be indicated nor necessary. The emphasis and corresponding gestures serve to accentuate this possibility. By using the implication after she has declared that the procedure was a success, Jeff is harnessing Salena’s internal acknowledgment that she is physically well and that he is now free to facilitate a reframe of her experience/meaning of the periodic tightness she has reported.

#MoreCommonTherapy #JeffZeig #ExperientialPsychotherapy 9-21-19

Gestures can be representations. For example, in speaking with a man about traveling in a car, Jeff represents this by moving his right hand, palm down, from his right side to his left side at chest level in the space between him and the man with whom he is working. Shortly after this he represents “the energy” by moving his hands, side by side palms up as if they were pedals operating in an alternating sequence. Jeff knows that this man is a car enthusiast and that in his work with another clinician in this same masterclass the metaphor of a car and moving through the gears was employed. Although I did not speak with Jeff specifically about this, it is my contention that he employed this gesture, one that offers an allusion to the pedals of a car, with this man knowing that, as a car enthusiast, doing so would resonate with and engage him. From a cost benefit perspective, there is no cost. If the gesture has absolutely no value or meaning, it simply becomes part of the behavioral stream and flows away. However, attending to the social psychological issue of influence, (Ackerman, Nocera & Bargh, 2010; Cialdini, 2007), this gesture can: promote rapport, offer an opportunity to assess response attentiveness and or serve as a way to focus and fixate his attention, an initial step in the facilitation of a trance experience.

#MoreCommonTherapy #JeffZeig #ExperientialPsychotherapy 9-27-11

At its core, hypnosis is about eliciting and harnessing the skills and resources that people possess with the intent of applying them to the issues and conflicts that bring them to treatment. With this intention in mind, the language we employ, the stories we tell, the gestures we use, the questions we ask and the associations we invite, can all be appreciated for being in the service of elicitation. Whether it is the hypnotic patter of the induction, designed to elicit the dissociative state we call trance or an evocation of internal and or external resources that can be brought to bear on an issue, it is elicitation that we employ to both cultivate and utilize the “state” we call trance.

#MoreCommonTherapy #JeffZeig #ExperientialPsychotherapy 10-11-19