Thursday, March 2, 2017

Hypnotherapy & Erik Erikson's Stages of Development

(This blog was originally posted on February 9, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

According to psychologist Erik Erikson, personality develops throughout a person’s lifetime. In other words, you “become” the person you are, starting from birth until you die. Each stage is characterized or punctuated by a specific goal that you must achieve to progress to the next stage of development. If you do not overcome that challenge, however, you will continue to be affected by the unresolved issue that is associated with the stage of development in which you are stuck.

Dr. John Kappas incorporated Erikson’s Stages of Development into his therapeutic approach. The Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder believed that hypnotherapists must always try to alleviate a client’s presenting issue “symptomatically.” However, if that approach doesn’t work it may be necessary to uncover the cause of the person’s presenting problem.

“Many conditions may be ‘relieved’ later in life if they’re not completed,” Dr. Kappas said. “We always attempt to fulfill what’s missing.” If a client is stuck in one of these stages, the hypnotherapist must explain the stages of development and discuss where/why the conflict arose. It may also be necessary to explore why the stage of development hasn’t been completed, he explained.

However, Dr. Kappas warned that age-regression therapy should not be used to identify the cause of a client’s presenting problem that developed during one of those stages. This technique could inadvertently expose a host of other issues that the person had previously repressed or dealt with, which the hypnotherapist would have to help the individual address all over again. Furthermore, HMI does not endorse age-regression as a form of therapy and legal courts do not admit any evidence obtained using this method.
 The goal of the therapy is to help the client resolve this conflict and set appropriate goals that are appropriate to facilitate progression to the stage of development that is appropriate for the client’s age, he said. Following is a summary of Erikson’s Eight Stages of Development:

Stage 1: Infancy (oral-sensory, birth-1 year). Conflict: trust vs. mistrust. Important event: feeding.
Stage 2: Early Childhood (muscular-anal, 1-3 years). Conflict: autonomy vs. doubt. Important events: Toilet training, suggestibility.
Stage 3: Play Age (locomotor, 3-6 years). Conflict: initiative vs. guilt. Important event: Independence.
Stage 4: School Age (6-12 years). Conflict: industry vs. inferiority (competence). Important event: School.
Stage 5: Puberty and Adolescence (12-18 years). Conflict: identity vs. role confusion. Important event: Peer relationship.
Stage 6: Young Adulthood (19-40 years). Conflict: intimacy/affiliation and love vs. isolation. Important event: Love relationships.
Stage 7: Middle Age (40-65 years). Conflict: generativity vs. stagnation/self-absorption. Important event: parenting.
Stage 8: Later life (Maturity, 65 years to death). Conflict: integrity vs. despair. Reflection on and acceptance of one’s life.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
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