One of the common theme I find when looking at the NLP world is the quick fix approach. I was reading today a by one of the most respected NLP pioneer,Steve Andreas, on resolving hate and anger. And his first case study got me thinking, once again, about the danger of the quick fix NLP approach.
Through changing submodalities, Steve Andreas helps his client to change the unwanted submodalities of the angry image and voice to the most resourceful ones. And get a pretty good result in a very short period of time. However, when he checks on his client a few weeks later, Fred reports that he hasn’t been able to maintain the changes in relation to his father. And Andreas to conclude that sometimes the sessions reveals “some other aspects of the problem that need to be addressed.” I totally agree with that conclusion.
The problem being that a lot of the time, clients won’t get back to you if the process hasn’t worked, or won’t have the courage to admit it didn’t work if you’re thorough in your following up with them. And most practitioners anyway don’t follow up on their clients. So they’re left believing they did a wonderful job with their clients during the session when actually, they only witnessed a temporary shift.
In the person centred approach and in my own practice, I insist in taking the time to get to know my clients well, to build rapport, to take quite a deep and profound case history before even moving on to the processes. Not only do I do this to gather more information, but also to get a sense of who my client is. To learn to read their non verbal communication. To build the trust, so that if the processes don’t work on them, they’ll feel confident enough to let me know so we can improve their situations.
In addition, there’s something else that I feel is worth reflecting on. I know that NLP is a solution-focused approach and not a problem-focused approach like other traditional therapies. However, when someone comes in with deep anger issues, and in the pure NLP style you only focus on changing this anger with submodalities or parts integration, you might miss out on the core of the problem.
I believe feelings are here for a reason. I believe they’re here to tell us about boundaries violation or unmet needs, for example in the case of anger. And wanting to cure the anger too quickly might prevent you to work on the real issues, which would be deeply rooted in the past. And in my experience, at the end of the day, you’ll eventually have to come to work on those roots otherwise the changes won’t last.
So rather than running away from the root causes and quickly move on to finding solution, why not actually taking the time to learn about what happened? Not in too much details, of course, as we don’t want to reactivate the neuro-pathways linked to the problem. But enough so we can work directly on the core issues and by doing so perhaps sorting out the issues quicker than spending weeks trying to work on changing the behaviour rather than healing the wounds…
Which means that instead of only working with submodalities, you might need to explore deeper processes, like reimprinting, core transformation or time line therapy. Whilst combining if needed Gestalt chair work with re-parenting the inner child using a TA approach. And that’s the bit of therapy I’m so interested about. All those brilliant processes you can integrate to the existing NLP approach to go into the depth of the human complexity, into deep root causes and start to help create amazing lasting changes.