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Ordeal Therapy

Now back in print, this classic book Jay Haley explains how and why the use of ordeals works in therapy. He provides an account of the theoretical basis of ordeal therapy, showing how it builds on the work of Milton H. Erickson. With the ordeal technique, the therapist's task is easily defined: It is to impose an ordeal appropriate to the problem of the person who wants to change, an ordeal more severe than the problem. The main requirement of an ordeal is that it should cause distress equal or greater than that caused by the symptom, just as a punishment should fit the crime. If an ordeal isn't severe enough to extinguish the symptom, it can be increased in magnitude until it is. It is also best if the ordeal is good for the person. Examples of what's good for people are exercise, improving the mind, eating a healthy diet, and other self-improvement activities. Ordeals may also include making a sacrifice for others. Haley explains how ordeals can succeed in promoting change even in cases with long histories of therapeutic failure, and describes the use of different kinds of ordeals, outlines the stages of ordeal therapy, and details special techniques to use with different clients.
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About the Author

Jay Haley studied with Dr. Erickson for 17 years. He is a major editor of Erickson's works and authored many books about him. Mr. Haley was professor at Stanford University, Howard University, the University of Maryland, and at the California School of Professional Psychology.

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