Basic Principles of a Neo-Ericksonian Resource Based Approach to Psychotherapy


Slide2(by Robert Schwarz, PsyD, DCEP)

I’ll be presenting a workshop at the Cape Cod Institute from Aug 15-19th titled The Mind-Body-Energy Tool Kit: Clinical Approaches that Go Beyond Talk .

As I was working on my presentation, I thought this topic  would make a good blog. I’m calling these principles, Basic Principles of  a Neo-Ericksonian Resource Based Approach, mostly because they were forged during my early years in the work of Milton H Erickson. (He influenced so many others, including NLP and solution-oriented approaches.) You could also call these principles post-modern/resource based or resilience/resource based principles. They still guide my work today, which includes energy psychology techniques. For those of you who have followed my work, you will notice that my ubiquitous reference to Dan Siegel’s definition of the mind is not here, but you can also notice that these principles contain those ideas.

Instead of pontificating about these principles, I think it would be far more interesting to have a conversation about them and what they stir up. My suggestion is: spend a little time and reflect on each of them, or on the group as a collective, as they apply to you and your work.

Do they fit for you?   –   Do they not fit?   –   Do some fit and others don’t?  –  If they don’t fit, why not?  –  What does fit and why? –   What gets stirred up for you?  What are the principles that guide your work (not the techniques)?  What are the values that guide your work?  Where are you and where is your work in relation to these principles?

Basic Principles of a Neo-Ericksonian Resource Based Approach to Psychotherapy

Principle 1: Social reality (if not all of reality) is constructed.

Principle 2: Psychological experience is constructed and maintained in an ongoing moment-to-moment manner.

Principle 3: Psychotherapy is based on changing at least one of the variables of constructed experience so that “felt experience” changes.

Principle 4: Therapy should focus attention on increasing access to resources and expanding the influence of resources throughout the “system”.

Principle 5: At the very least, patients should be treated with respect and dignity.

Principle 6: It is the therapist’s job to:

  • Personally maintain a positive resourceful state
  • Be as flexible as possible in identifying the variables that keep a patient locked into a problematic experience
  • Be skilled in using tools that impact on those variables
  • Be skilled at using tools that increase and magnify resourceful states in clients and their systems
  • Be skilled at tracking the effects of their interventions, while
  • Remembering to treat patients in a respectful dignifying manner, hopeful that solutions and positive outcomes can be constructed for people who are suffering
  • Remaining humble about the “truths” of their own hypotheses and ideas about the people with whom they work

After reviewing this blog, I already know what some people will say is missing. Where is the heart? Where is the presence? I put that under “maintaining a positive resourceful state.” That is a very open-ended phrase – is it not?

If you were to get more specific about what that phrase meant, what would you say? Leave a comment below about any of this. This just might get interesting.

Robert Schwarz, PsyD, DCEP  has been the executive director of ACEP for the last 8 years. He is also author of Tools for Transforming Trauma ; and We’re No fun Anymore.   If you are wondering what he does to access and magnify resourceful states he writes songs, sings and plays guitar in a band called Lift Street.

BTW, there are still spaces available for the Cape Cod training.


  1. How very exciting that you will be presenting at Cape Cod. They have been instrumental over the yearsin bringing alternative therapists to the wider Boston area this may be a first for the Chair of ACEP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: