Hypnosis, NLP, EFT, TFT, 3d mind…
All those beautiful ‘magical’ therapies.
They all have something in common.
A fatal flaw.
A deadly paradox.
It’s always there. Always lurking below the surface. Poking its head up from time to time, only to be quickly misdirected and shifted aside.
It comes up for the practitioners. Especially the ones who get long term feedback from clients. When they dare ask the unaskable questions, they are quickly taught to get in line.
And so what delicious flaw is it that I speak of?
It’s quite simple. The one thing those therapies have in common is the core belief that problems are simply ‘mistakes’. Things that truly don’t belong, shouldn’t be there, and are therefore easily removed.
It might be with a swish pattern, a direct suggestion, a release of energy, a collapsing of anchors.
The core premise being that change is quick and easy. There is no need to work or suffer. That to assume that any change needs hard work or suffering puts one into the category of the evil psychologists and therapists (or The-Rapists as many will quip).
Well whats wrong with that! What’s so terrible about that premise! After all, I had a friend with a phobia, we did the fast phobia sure, and 4 minutes later he was standing on the roof! No pain, plenty of gain!
Well here’s the thing. While it’s certainly true that you can make change without pain. Even significant change. The idea that ALL change is easy and painless is dead wrong (and harmful).
Here’s a simple way to prove it to your next NLP trainer. Ask him why he’s overweight, or why he smokes, or why he bites his nails, or why he gets angry, or why he has any bad habits, emotions, or behaviors at all.
And he will answer that he is human and isn’t perfect.
But what does that really mean? If all change is easy and painless, then why not? Why not take an hour, and zap em all away? Why have any problem more than once in your lifetime? Why once any issue ever comes up for the first time, don’t you simply run the magical process and rid yourself of it forever and ever?
And to that, the answer is simple. While there is a lot of things you can change that is simple and easy, there are many things that will be quite difficult to change.
This makes a lot of sense as well. Sometimes the problems we have are simply the product of a larger dysfunctional system. While simple phobias are almost always an isolated pattern, things like OCD, GAD, depression, and other issues can often be part of a global stable system of dysfunction (quite often they aren’t as well and are fixed easily). If it is a whole system that supports the problem, then a simple 6 step reframe won’t do the trick.
To solve these problems you often need to do a specific piece and then let the rest of the system ‘catch up’ and fall into a new order before you can know which bit to shift next.
A good example is building an idea and a product. While some businesses and ideas can be built big straight off the bat, in some industries you need to start with one bit, let the market shape itself around that bit, then evolve the next bit, wait for the market, and so on. The internet as it is now could not have been built in one shot 20 years ago. There are simply too many supporting factors that make it possible (the amount of people with computers, the mindset of society in regards to the web, the people trained in creating content, the users trained in consuming that content, the advertisers and their mind set, and a million other things) that were not there 20 years ago. The only way for the web to be as it is today is because it evolved step by step.
The truth is, you knew this already. You knew that your NLP trainer wasn’t perfect or God. It’s simply that you never put two and two together. That your NLP trainer not being perfect clearly leads to the idea that not all change is simple or easy. That sometimes change needs to be done step by step with the system reorganizing itself at each point. That sometimes the middle steps aren’t pleasant and that’s where many people flee back to the safety of the old system.
If you actually work with clients in the real world and follow up with them long term, you will see this truth as well. Not all future pacing is foolproof. Not all clients stay ‘fixed’. People change, and then change back.
And if your NLP trainer denies that, well then ask him why he isn’t perfect!
Ah. So now here’s your big question.
But hold on. One second here Joe. Don’t you do brief therapy as well? Don’t you get your clients out the door in 1-5 sessions?
But how? What if it’s a difficult issue? What if it needs longer than that.
It’s a good question. And the answer has 2 parts.
Firstly, there is almost always some change you can make instantly. I have yet to find the client that I couldn’t make some sort of instant impact.
Which leads to the second bit. And that is, when I identify a system-wide issue with my client, my goal of therapy is to train him to take himself through those steps all by himself. That although he might not be all ‘fixed’ when he leaves my office, he does know how to move forward and most importantly, he has learned to ‘sit’ in the middle step of a system wide change even thought it may be uncomfortable.
When my client ‘gets it’, I know I’m done.
PS I teach all this (and more) on my online supervision course. I will have the recording for sale soon enough. If you would like to be put on a notification list (and get a chance at the early bird discount), simply sign up here.