The Psychology of NLP written by Wesley Kew, Clinical Psychologist
The Psychology of NLP. What I love most about NLP is its effectiveness. However, this effectiveness is built upon the client wanting to re-map some behaviour or decision-making pattern. This re-mapping/change only comes into play once the current behaviour, experience or decisions are causing unbearable or discomfort/pain to bring about change. I regularly have patients sitting in my ‘change-chair’, only to discover that they are not as ready to change as they think they are.
In my experience, many people do wish to make chances – however, these changes are primarily motivated by external influences. To be honest many people wish they could play the guitar to which I ask “well, what is stopping you?” In fact, many people want to do something or change behaviour but they are not willing to put in the hours or effort to deserve the outcome. They simply want it.
Basically what occurs is that in an attempt to be accepted, the patient begins to think that they must conform to societal expectations. All too often these social cue’s and feedback are at the heart of wanting to make a change. Regardless of what the client themselves thinks or feels about their behaviours and decision-making.
It is here that it becomes vital to for the practitioner to embrace curiosity and at times some rather honest lines of questioning. One must determine just how motivated the clients is and if they are willing to go through certain ordeals to achieve the change they desire. More importantly to get them to consider the purpose of wanting to make this change. If they are seeking to bring about change only because they want to be accepted, they will not be willing to do their part in the healing process.
It goes without saying that this kind of motivation will last as long as the client is able and comfortable in therapy. However, when one is obligated to confront various core beliefs or limiting decisions, the therapy process and relationship quickly decays.
To make this more tangible and relevant, let’s think of someone wanting to stop smoking because their girlfriend, wife, boyfriend or husband wants them to.
A patient came to me wanting to stop smoking because it annoys their partner. When asked if they would stop if it were not for their partner, they answered no and went on to say that they know they must stop but they are not sure why they just know that they must.
In cases like this, even if the change is implemented, it probably won’t be sustained and definitely, will not stand the test of time. Then the clients can often turn around and blame the practitioner and add that they have now tried everything and nothing works. It is only when change is motivated by the individual themselves (FREELY, with no have to’s, musts and other pressure words) that one will be able to make sustained lifestyle and behavioural changes.
In cases like this, I believe that one must find out what the smoking means to the patient. What purpose does the smoking fulfil in their worldview? Finding the true motivating factor behind any behaviour or decision-making is the true “gold dust”. And as is so often the case with treasure their owners closely and securely guard them.
I have found that in many cases, people want to bring about the change but lack the strength to do it. Many times clients need someone to help them create a new pattern of success and even at times help them create a picture of future success. Because many clients have tried many therapies or self-help guides they have the experience that “everything” will eventually fall apart and they ageing will be victims of their desire.
It is here that practitioner may have to address the issue of having failed in the past and having giving up. Here we may have to re-look at the client’s belief and life sentence regarding feedback. We may have to do some work around their previous feedback process. It is here that I find my client may become uncomfortable as we begin to work on what they believe to be unrelated issues or memories. This now brings in the element of trust. We as practitioners know that it’s all related, however, remember that you have been through this process and we must respect the client’s map of the world and be patient.
It is here that I believe psychological frameworks can guide the process of rapport. Rapport is the art of creating a relationship and, as you know, all healing must occur within a relationship. In psychological terms, rapport can be best detailed as a combination of Carl Rogers unconditional positive regards and the intimacy of Melanie Klein’s understanding of Object Relations. Object Relations is itself an older sibling of Freudian psychoanalysis.
This may all sound super fancy and impressive, however, you as a practitioner have all the skills needed to implement these techniques. Unconditional positive regard is pretty much exactly what it says. It is about creating a safe non-judgemental environment that allows your clients to express themselves in whatever manner they feel. Just like the presupposition of accepting others map of the world. Add The Now State and soon your client will model the manner in which you digest the anxiety that may arise in the healing process.
How do you attain The Now State?
As for the psychoanalytical Object Relations, it refers to how the earliest object (primary-care-figures) influenced your decisions and behaviours. In essence, it could also be described with spiral dynamic’s V-memes. In NLP terms we would use our time-lines and Time Based Techniques to determine how the client made certain decisions and formed various beliefs in their past.
So it is only when we go through this process of exploration with curiosity and accepting the others map of the world, do we create the space to let the client reveal their gold dust. Then the practitioner can guide them in moving their treasure to a new and more empowering set of beliefs and behaviours.
Wesley Kew, Clinical Psychologist