Milton Erickson was famous for his use of stories as a therapeutic intervention. He would sometimes tell quite long rambling stories and sometimes confusing stories. There is much to be learned from his stories and much to be learned about his method of using stories. Wonderful books and articles about this subject have been written. For the most part, the language patterns we’ve been looking at in these pages were used to enhance how the stories were being delivered.For our purposes right now, however, we’re just going to focus on his use of seemingly offhand, everyday, brief analogies he would use to illustrate his points. Although highly educated, rarely did he speak in medical jargon or technical descriptions. He very much preferred the more colorful and interesting analogy.

“You think you cannot control pain, but every dentist can tell you how easily patients lose their toothaches on the way to the dental office.”

When asked about techniques for weight loss, Erickson replied, “How do you climb Squaw Peak? One step at a time.”

And you, dear reader, are probably wondering how you can become more expert in the use of language patterns in general and analogies in particular. It’s like what the New York cop said when asked how do you get to Carnegie Hall?

“Practice, practice, practice.”

About Doug O'Brien

Doug O’Brien is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, and a Certified Hypnotherapist. In 1988, while assisting at NLP and NAC training seminars with Anthony Robbins, Doug achieved the designation of Master Trainer. He now conducts numerous seminars of his own around the globe (specializing in the “Sleight of Mouth” patterns of Robert Dilts, NLP Certification Courses, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy) and helped found Columbia-Presbyterian’s Department of Complementary Medicine with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

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