" To reframe means to change the conceptual and /or the emotional setting or viewpoint in relation to which a situation is experienced and place it in another frame which fits the 'facts' of the same situation equally well , or even better and thereby changes its entire meaning. "
Watzlwawick, Weekland and Fisch in Change
One of the most memorable examples of reframing is Victor Frankel's account of being in a concentration camp in his book From Death Camp to Existentialism. While most of his fellow inmates lost hope and subsequently died, Frankel occupied his mind thinking about the lectures he would give after his release - lectures that would utilise the experience in the camp. This was how he reframed his potentially deadening and hopeless situation. He transformed it in his mind to a rich source of experience that he could use to help others overcome apparently hopeless situations.
Here is one about how he helped his daughter reframe a school situation, from My Voice Will Go With You The Teaching Tales Of Milton H. Erickson by Sydney Rosen.
" My daughter came home grade school and said , " Daddy, all the girls in school bite their nails and I want to be in that style too. "
I said, " Well , well you certainly ought to be in style. I think style is very important for girls. You are way behind the girls. They have had a lot of practise. So I think the best way for you to catch up with the girls is to make sure you bite your nails enough each day. Now I think if you bite your nails for fifteen minutes three times a day, every day ( I'll furnish a clock ) at exactly such - and - such an hour, you can catch up."
She began enthusiasticall at first. Then she began beginning late and quitting early and one day she said, " Daddy I'm going to start a new style at school - Long nails."
Erickson's methods do not follow any ' formula' he treats each person according to their personality and particular symptom.
Reframing takes us out of a particular mind set and views the situation from a completely new perspective. Reading the stories alone is a great way to open one's mind to new points of view.