American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis

ISSN: 0002-9157 (Print) 2160-0562 (Online) Journal homepage:

Editorial Stephen Lankton To cite this article: Stephen Lankton (2015) Editorial, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 57:3, 207-208, DOI: 10.1080/00029157.2015.985563 To link to this article:

Published online: 13 Jan 2015.

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Date: 07 November 2015, At: 07:13

American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 57: 207–208, 2015 Copyright © American Society of Clinical Hypnosis ISSN: 0002-9157 print / 2160-0562 online DOI: 10.1080/00029157.2015.985563

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Stephen Lankton Editor-in-Chief

The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis (AJCH), Volume 56, Number 2, October 2013, contained an article by Laurence I. Sugarman, Brian L. Garrison, and Kelsey L. Williford. The article was called “Symptoms as Solutions: Hypnosis and Biofeedback for Autonomic Regulation in Autism Spectrum Disorders.” I chose that article to receive the Josephine Hilgard Award for the Best Paper on Pediatric Uses of Hypnosis. I thought the article was outstanding for a number of reasons that I want to briefly summarize here. It was on the strength of that article that I approached Dr. Sugarman and asked if he would organize a special issue of the AJCH—and it’s that issue we are now pleased to present. Regarding his original article from 2013, it would probably be enough to say that the article presented a fresh perspective on applying hypnosis to a population of people with developmental difficulties—that alone would qualify it to receive the Josephine Hilgard Award. But Sugarman provided at least two other components in that article that identified his work as outstanding. One of these components is clinical, and the other component is theoretical. On the clinical side, Sugarman’s therapeutic work emphasizes and implements the essence of a “utilization approach.” The population for whom techniques of utilization would be most beneficial was described by Milton Erickson in this way: These patients are those who are unwilling to accept any suggested behavior until their own resistant or contradictory or opposing behavior has first been met by the operator. By reason of their physical condition, state of tension or anxiety, intense interest, concern or absorption in their own behavior, they are unable to give either actively or passively the requisite cooperation to permit an effective alteration of their behavior. For these patients, what may be termed Techniques of Utilization frequently serve to meet most adequately their special needs. (Erickson, 1959, pp. 3–4) Address correspondence to Stephen Lankton, PO Box 17491, Phoenix, AZ 85011, USA. E-mail: [email protected]

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In characterizing their own work, I have heard dozens of therapists proclaim that they use an Ericksonian approach. I’m not at all sure what they each mean by that statement. I have rarely seen a therapist whose work appears to contain the two major elements that Erickson considered the cornerstones of his work: naturalistic techniques and “acceptance of the situation encountered and the utilization of it” (Erickson, 1958, p. 3, emphasis added). Having read Sugarman’s work and viewed videos of his therapy with children with autism spectrum disorder, I am convinced his work is exactly an Ericksonian approach (and without his proclaiming it as such). He joins the children creatively and cultivates innate resources for his therapeutic work with them. That brings us to the theory of his therapeutic work. He is applying hypnosis to a new and cogent model of autism spectrum disorder that comes from an exploration of the inner experience of the condition. It appears that he is helping them learn to create autonomic self-regulation methods based on their unique talents. The fact that it appears “Ericksonian” is somewhat interesting, but it is not the important aspect—that means very little. What is important is that it works. He succeeds. As soon as his paper was approved for publication in 2013, I contacted him and told him, “You got it right—what you are doing is brilliant on several levels.” This is rarely seen. Discussing the possibility of a special issue, he wanted to bring AJCH readers more up to date on neurophysiology and how the newest knowledge in that field can help better define hypnosis and anchor that definition to biology as much as currently possible. For that task, he assembled the many experts represented here. There is much more to be said on this topic, and, as he points out in his Guest Editorial, we need to keep going.

References Erickson, M. H. (1958). Naturalistic techniques of hypnosis. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 1, 3–8. doi:10.1080/00029157.1958.10401766 Erickson, M. H. (1959). Further clinical techniques of hypnosis: Utilization techniques. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 2, 3–21. doi:10.1080/00029157.1959.10401792 Sugarman, L. I., Garrison, B. L., & Williford, K. L. (2013). Symptoms as solutions: Hypnosis and biofeedback for autonomic regulation in autism spectrum disorders. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 56, 152–173. doi:10.1080/00029157.2013.768197

The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. Introduction.

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