Sunday, November 9, 2008

Where's the Healing Belief?

[This case study shows one successful example of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)]

Sophie (all identifying details are changed) complained one evening about her disappointment that specialists couldn't operate on her ears to end her stuttering. I perked up, and told her I am a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). I have used NLP to help people heal allergies, performance anxiety, dyslexia, overeating, tobacco addiction, and the inability to experience orgasms. I shared a few stories about my work and offered to trade sessions: her motivational interviewing skills for my NLP skills.

Warning! Don't start that way—my bragging may have incited her, unconsciously, to "knock me down a peg." A better path would have been to direct her to articles on NLP and stuttering for her to evaluate before agreeing to my help.

We agreed to trade four sessions. My sessions with her were difficult. She really believed in the numbers and diagnoses offered her by western medical science. For the third session I came ready with a method to try. She only went through the motions without imagination, intention or investment. She smiled as we finished as if to say, "Is that the best you have?" and admitted that she really hadn't been into it.

Here I paused for a long time. She believed that experts shouldn't have to stop and think (remember that poor start!). I defended my right to think, and kept thinking.

Something very powerful sat behind that smile. She said she felt her problem had a biological cause, meaning that it was permanent and unchanging. Yes, that was the belief. Thus the desire for surgery because that would be a biologically-based intervention.

But, she had already mentioned two counterexamples (instances when the problem didn't occur). I reminded her, "If, as you say, it is biological and something that never changes, then you should stutter all the time. The biology should prevent you from talking fluently to animals or fluently when imitating someone."

Her turn to pause. She admitted that was right. She said I had destroyed the belief structure she had built her whole life around. I apologized for destroying her belief (this time remembering to stay one-down and cautious). That ended the third session. We never had a fourth.

When we crossed paths two months later she spoke fluently. I stood amazed. "I want to thank you. I've gone from about 70% fluent to 90-95% fluent. And I was totally resistant!" she beamed. What made the difference? "When you helped me realize that it wasn't biologically based."

Many people limit their ability to permit a change (that is, healing) because their belief about their suffering only includes a few ways a change process might work. Bringing the client face-to-face to times when the belief does not hold true may be the only key she needs for her transformation.

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