When John Grinder and Richard Bandler worked with Milton Erickson in the 1970’s, he was widely regarded as the foremost practitioner of hypnotherapy. After studying his techniques, John and Richard wrote up the Milton Model in The Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, I and II.
Erickson realised that by using hypnotic language patterns that were deliberately ‘artfully vague’, his clients would extract the meaning that was most appropriate for them from his words. He worked on the assumption that there was a positive intention behind even the most bizarre behaviour, and that people make the best choices available to them at the time.
He worked to give his clients more choices and assumed that at some level, individuals already have all the resources they need to make changes. He respected and accepted his clients’ reality, and believed that all responses were valid and could be worked with.
Using the Milton Model can:
The Milton Model lists and names the key speech patterns that are useful in subtly directing another person’s line of thinking. This has applications in sales, therapy, family issues and in gaining rapport in general. The principles are that a more general use of language can lead to greater rapport, while more specific language can be limiting. By using non-specific language patterns, a state of trance is introduced which opens a path to unconscious resources.
Mind reading – ‘I know you are curious’
Cause & effect – When it is implied that one thing causes another ‘if you study, you will learn’
Universal quantifier – Universal generalisations without frames of reference ‘every single one of us….’
Presupposition – The linguistic equivalent of assumptions ‘you are learning many new things…’
Milton Model hypnotic language allows the listener to move away from details and content towards deeper states of mind. The patterns are used to establish a relaxed trance state, loosen the listener’s model of the world from where their current behaviour stems, and allow changes to take place.