I’ve recently completed my AAMET EFT training level 1&2 and as I was training, it confirmed something really important that became the root of my Person-Centred NLP approach.
When you work with clients, the most important thing is not the repertoire of processes you have under your sleeves; nor is the amount of academic degrees or diploma you hold. The most important thing is to treat your client as a human being. This is someone who, when they come to see you for the first time, is likely to be quite nervous, understandably, as they don't know you yet: they need to feel they can trust you, open up to you and feel at ease with confiding their most intimate issues. After all, they put their well being and mental health in your hands!
Over the years I moved away from the quick fix mentality of the typical NLP world into developing my Person-Centred approach. I stopped taking a magnifying glass to focus solely on the issue my clients presented on the first session to begin to look at them in a holistic way. My goal stopped being to get them fixed in the shortest possible time, and instead get to know them, what is going on for them in the rest of their lives, not just on that specific issue. And as a result I learnt to listen much more and use NLP/hypnotherapy much less. And interestingly I got better and more lasting results.
When I was doing my EFT training what stroke me the most was the parallel with NLP. In the sense that what makes the most difference in a therapeutic encounter, is not the tools you use but rather understanding what is really going on for the client. As most of the time the issues clients come to therapy with in the first place are only the tip of the iceberg. Often do I see a flying phobia that actually stems from severe childhood abuse ; or fear of public speaking stemming from verbal abuse coming from a teacher in first grade. But most of the time the client won’t disclose sensitive information if they don’t feel comfortable with their therapist. Yes I’m talking here about rapport, but not the artificial rapport you build by matching your client’s body language and predicates. I’m talking about genuine rapport, the one that comes from being heard, understood and respected. The kind of rapport that takes time to build.
Coming back to my EFT training, one of the trainer said something that really resonated with my working style. She said “I’m doing some detective work“. Meaning that even before using EFT or NLP, we explore the issue inside out, where it comes from, what’s underneath it, what are the core limiting beliefs hidden behind it, what needs are not met, what fears are at play etc. In order to know exactly what to work on. I find it’s always more useful to work directly on the root cause of an issue rather than on the symptoms that are presented. A little bit like finding the deep physical dysfunction of an illness instead of just taking paracetamol.
Do you know the story of that very expensive plumber? A big ship’s engine was broken and the ship’s owners had tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure out how to fix it. Finally they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a youngster; He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.
Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed! A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars.
“What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!”
So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”
The man sent a bill that read:
Tapping with a hammer ……………………. $ 2.00
Knowing where to tap ………………………. $ 9,998.00
I believe the most important thing in therapy is knowing where to tap. The core of the issue. And once you found it, then choose which tool you’re going to use to heal it, NLP, EFT or CBT etc. according to your client’s needs and learning style, using your experience and intuition. But that also means that learning those tools are not enough. Like if you want to build a house you need a little bit more than having a spade, a drill or a shovel. You need to actually need to know how to build the house!
And in therapy that means knowing how the mind works ; what are the limitations people are running when they’re stuck. What limiting beliefs and common patterns are the most often at play. And only then can you dig in your tool box to work on them. The more I work in this field the more concerned I become about the fast track trainings that exclude experience, deep learning and understanding of the human mind. And how that can potentially endanger clients. I feel I was lucky to have read so many books and articles on psychology prior to my own NLP/Hypnotherapy training back then. But what happens to practitioners who have no psychology background and qualify after two weeks of training? How qualified are they to work on mental health? Would you go and see a surgeon who only had a few weeks training? Would you trust them with your health?