Hypnosis Coaching | History of Tasking

Over the next few posts we are going to dive deep into the area of tasking. It's always interesting to find the origins of where something came from, so let's take a quick look at the history of tasking.


The theory of tasking is believed to originate from one of the best hypnotherapists in history Dr. Milton Erickson. Erickson used to have his clients climb the mountain behind his house before they came to see him. Many people used to think that they had to do it so that they appreciated their health as Milton Erickson had Polio as a child and used a walking stick, moving to a wheel chair later in life. But it actually wasn't for this reason that he tested his clients in this way. He wanted to see if they would follow his instructions.

It is imperative that the hypnotherapist knows they have a client that is willing to follow instructions in order to get the best possible outcome, for both client and therapist. Tasking is one way of testing out your client's willingness to do the hard yards to improve the circumstances for which they're coming to see you. I learned tasking from my instructors, who made tasking a very important part of the session; to the point that you almost did not want to ask for help on a problem because you knew that once you asked for help it would be very closely followed by a task that you just knew was going to be an ordeal. Inevitably the tasking they set would make you work really hard, so you needed to really want to make the change or solve the problem!

Tasking should not be confused with multi-tasking, tasking is supposed to be an ordeal, although multi-tasking can be an ordeal too. Ordeal may be a strong word but the tasking you set should test or challenge your client. They've come to you seeking a result to overcoming a tough problem; something that they've not been able to do alone. Think about losing weight or quitting cigarettes, or overcoming a phobia that is limiting their quality of life. These are tough personal challenges that often have years of frustration/shame/guilt/low self esteem attached. To overcome these challenges isn't always easy and so tasking is a way of testing your client to see how serious they are about dealing with the issue.

Tasking in most coaching concepts would look something like having the client "act as if", set a goal, then write out the action points the client needs to do to achieve the goal. Many coaching books refer to tasking as a process that enables the client to see the baby steps needed to achieve the overall goal. The tasking you set needs to help your client go through the process of actualizing their goal.

The concept of tasking and coaching tasking is not really well documented. This is part of the problem that many therapists face. They don't really understand the role of tasking or how to implement it. Fact is having someone do something that is an ordeal, and related to an optimal outcome, before you see them, makes perfect sense. But what about tasking after that? Or what do you do if the client does not do it?

Practitioners need clients that get results for a sustainable business, so having the client do something that they are unlikely or unwilling to do does not make good business sense, or does it? It will certainty make sure the clients you do work with are very committed to getting a result.

Carl Jung said "that which is unconscious, made conscious ceases to exist" and that's what your tasking's ultimate goal is all about.

The concept of tasking has been around for some time. However the way to effectively use tasking to have an engaged, complaint client is less well known. We'll cover more of that in the following post. In the meantime I hope you now have a better understanding of why and how tasking came to be so you can begin to use it to better effect, if you aren't already.