In this episode of Transforming Trauma, Emily is joined by Dr. Stephen Gilligan, psychotherapist, author, workshop leader, and transformation specialist. “The most common word you'll hear me use in a therapy session is ‘welcome’. Welcome.” It's in this spirit of openness and curiosity that Emily and Dr. Gilligan discuss his life's work, what he's learned about connection and fulfilling core needs, plus the creative paths that bring clients back into life and a happy future.
After receiving his doctorate in Psychology from Stanford University and motivated by his life experiences, he developed a new practice incorporating Ericksonian psychotherapy, Aikido Buddhism, meditation, and the performance arts. His work focuses on the awakening of the soul, drawing parallels from other traditions where such explorations are essential to awakening the human spirit. He's the author of several books in the field, as well as many papers on hypnosis, hypnotherapy, and the works of Milton Erickson.
Extraordinary journeys of self-discovery often begin with a simple invitation. NARM practitioners encourage these explorations by asking clients to set an intention from the beginning for the work ahead. Stephen Gilligan, PhD., takes a similarly powerful approach. At the start of each visit, he warmly receives both the client and their trauma into the therapeutic space.
One of the central themes in NARM is a connection to ourselves, each other, and our surroundings. Dr. Gilligan leans into this interdependence in his own practice, helping the client address (or welcome) their trauma and notice where they can replace outdated survival skills with more authentic modes of being. “Trauma is one of the more significant events that will be a significant piece of [a person's] identity,” he says. The disassociation that often follows a single incident or complex traumatic event is, as Dr. Gilligan explains, an act of self-love designed to keep the client safe––for a while. “It worked great as a short-term strategy; it sucks in the long-term.”
Dr. Gilligan believes that dissociation starts to break down when the tactic is no longer needed. He uses hypnotherapy not as a means of regression but as a catalyst for clients to develop resources in the present. It's a collaborative process that mirrors NARM, reinforcing client agency and activating new competencies for self-management and resilience.
About Stephen Gilligan, Ph.D.:
Stephen Gilligan, Ph.D., is a psychologist who received his doctorate from Stanford University. He was a major student of Milton Erickson and has been elaborating this work for the past 35 years while also developing Generative Psychotherapy. In 2004, he received the rarely-given Lifetime Achievement Award from the Erickson Foundation in honor of his many contributions. He is well-known throughout the world for his inspirational teaching. Dr. Gilligan has published extensively, and his books include Therapeutic Trances: The Co-Operation Principle In Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, The Courage to Love: Principles and Practices of Self-Relations Psychotherapy, The Legacy of Erickson, Walking In Two Worlds: The Relational Self In Theory, Practice, And Community, and The Hero’s Journey (w/ R. Dilts); Generative Trance: The Experience of Creative Flow; and Generative Coaching. He has worked with trauma as a psychotherapist for over 40 years.
Website – Stephen Gilligan, PhD.