This is the second part of David Monier-Williams’ account of his theraputic practice
What would you expect to experience in your first visit to a therapist? Since most operate on a 55min schedule, the first thing out of the therapists mouth after greeting you would be, “ How can I best help you?” your answer would be what is called, “The presenting problem.” most of the rest of the session would hopefully the therapist building rapport with you and taking what is know as your history.
In subsequent session depending of the type of therapy involved, the underlying beliefs of that particular therapy would come into play. In other words, the particular beliefs of the therapist presuppose that there are round holes and you’re a square peg. Since, I what I do doesn’t fall into that category, I’m not going to comment on what to expect in future sessions. It would be up to you to investigate the particulars of the therapy and be aware whether that is something you want to pursue.
I have practiced Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) and Ericksonian Hypnosis for 25 years. My practice has been varied but mostly with women who’ve been abused, Vets with PTSD and marriage and relationship counseling.
NLP is the study of the structure of subjective experience and the modeling of excellence. It has no belief system and no round holes or pegs. What it does have is a set of working presuppositions based on the works of Milton Erickson and Gregory Bateson:
1. The Meaning of your communication is the response you get.
2. There’s no such thing as Failure only Feedback.
3. People have the resources to accomplish their goals.
4. There’s a positive intention behind every behaviour.
5. Power is the ability to produce the intended results. (Power is flexibility not “control over”or “power over.”) The law of Requisite Variety states, “The person or system with the greatest flexibility controls any given situation.”
6. People make the best choices available to them.
7. The map is not the territory. (But it don’t make it so.
If two people watch a sunrise, then spend a leisurely hour at breakfast chatting about the sunrise, each will have experienced it very differently based on their past experiences which in total formed their limited beliefs, values and behaviours).
So our brains (neuro) have been programmed by our experiences (linguistic programming). These positive and negative(traumas) early childhood experiences bring challenges of how they deal with the world around them e.g. stuttering, resultant abuse symptoms, phobias, violence, multiple unsuccessful marriages/relationships etc.
One set of possible responses is, “Get over it, get on with it, I have. Man up, it’s not a big deal.” If this is your model of the world read no further. You have the answer. If on the other hand, you can understand that not everyone is like you and their models of the world are different, then we can move on.
The first thing you learn in NLP is how to build rapport. Rapport is easy with those you like not so much with those you don’t. It’s like a thermostat, fully flexible as the temperature moves in either direction. There are many ways to build it. The real flexibility is to know how to build it, know when you’ve lost it, know how to get it back and above all know the difference.
You can’t help anyone with anything without on-going rapport.
The rest of NLP is becoming familiar with the various speech patterns that people use and the various different processes to help them have more choice, options and possibilities.
As a beginning, I use the Enneagram, the most effective and dynamic archetype of personality. It was started by the Sufis a long time ago. It is a set of nine basic personality types around a circle. The basic types form an isosceles triangle. The top one is the Mediator, the one on the right the Performer and on the left the Devil’s Advocate. I listen for the occupation and speech patterns that help me identify the basic and secondary types. This will give me some of their beliefs but most importantly the chinks in armour.
The next thing that important for everyone is how you spatially perceive time. Some always believe that there’s never enough of it, some that it always passes too slowly. How you perceive time is how you lead your life. How you perceive it is totally idiosyncratic though not always useful and helpful. For many the future is in front and the past behind. The latter so it can come and kick you in ass from time to time. Others think of it as them in the middle of two concentric circles, with the future running in one direction and the past in the other. This, by the way, is how you’re at cross purposes to yourself—quite literally. There are as many other configurations as there are people.
The most useful Timelines, as they’re called, is the InTimeline which passes through your body, the past behind , the present inside of you and the future in front of you, and the ThruTimeline, which is tangentially touching the center of your chest, the past off to your left at a 45 degree angle and the future to your right at a 45 degree angle. The InTimeline is used to motivate you to your goals, the ThruTimeline give your future possibilities and options when you run into life’s obstacles.
There is a whole lot more to NLP which together with Ericksonian Hypnosis took over two years of experiential training.
So now let me describe to you my initial work with a Vet with PTSD. Btw, I would use similar techniques with a woman who had been abused as the only differences are frequency and intensity.
I met with Joe, that’s not his real name, he’d spent four months in Iraq at the beginning of Desert Storm. He not only suffers from PTSD but also Fibromyalgia.
After I explained that his perception of his experiences were about how he perceived time I elicited his Timeline. He had two concentric circles around him. I stood behind him and with his two arms crossed in front of his I grabbed hold of both his wrists from behind and I asked him to walk into his future and to be aware of what was happening to him. He said, “I’m confused.” I pointed out that this was also in English to be at cross-purposes to oneself…quite literally. I broke the circles, straightened them out and attached his past Timeline to his back, it stretched out all the way back to in utero and the future to his front going forward. This was his new IntimeTimeline. I helped him install and optimize a future goal out six month into the future. Then I had him install a ThruTimeline which was a Vee shaped line tangentially attached to his chest. The past at a 45 degree off to his left and his future the same degree of to his right. I had him notice the difference of the goal in front of hin versus at a 45 degree off to his right. The latter offering possibilities the former motivation.
I had him then begin to deal with his past by identifying a minor stressful event on his InTimeline behind him. I had him replay the event there and then put it on his Thrutimeline and relive it disassociated. That is to say, to his left and had him watch it instead of being inside of it. The latter was less stressful. Ergo by changing the location of a stressor you change the perception. In NLP it’s called RWS…real weird shit! This instilled in him that change can happen quickly.
I had him put his ThruTimeline on the floor and had him watch the bright healing light come from before his birth into him and out into the future, then I had him step four paces forward, between his past and his future into, “out of time” so as I could instill Joe’s uniqueness of Joe. It was just a wee bit of trance work.
I had him put out his past ThruTimeline and throw all his traumas on it. There were 12 going back to age 6. Guess what? All the traumas were in chronological order. Before working on the past ThruTimeline, the Fibromyalgia in the joints of his hands and legs were an 8 on a scale of 1-10. The three most stressful events on his ThruTimeline were 10s. The first two were from his time in Iraq.
Here’s a question for you, have you ever watched a home movie as a child? If so, at the end, the person re-threaded it and ran it backwards to the beginning, and everyone laughed to see and hear people moving and talking backwards. Rather than what the VA does here or in the UK having the people run the trauma forwards re-living it…Damn it, run the bloody thing backwards!
OK, there’s a trick to this. In order to run it backwards, you have to run it forwards. Well, how do you do that and not have the person re-live it. You do it by having him do it initially from a multi-dissociated position. In NLP it’s called The Phobia Cure. I had him imagine himself in his favourite movie house sitting the best seat in the house. I had him put on the screen a still picture of what was happening just before the trauma started. Then I had him float out of his body and sit at the far left aisle seat so he could watch himself watching the trauma. At the end of the trauma he was to nod his head. Then I would tell him to jump into the movie and run it backwards to the beginning, in colour in three seconds so that everyone and everything moved and talked backwards. This, of course, would be too difficult for him as the trauma was too intense. So I had him go from the aisle chair and float out through an opening in the roof to the surface of the moon.
I had him on the moon with his back to the screen looking through a handheld periscope like the one for looking above crowds at a golf match. From there he could barely make out his other self in the movie house and he could watch himself watching the movie for him in safety. From the moon’s surface I had him jump into the movie and run it backwards. That was fine. When I brought him half way back to earth he said he couldn’t go on I asked him why, he said he needed his son. I said you’ve got your son. We repeated the process …that was OK too. I got him and his son to the opening in the roof of the theatre when he stopped and told me he couldn’t go on that he had to tell me the story.
He was in an convoy from Baghdad to Kuwait as they entered a town he saw the legs of a person on one side of the street the torso on the other and everything else across the street. On his side was sitting a little boy with most of his insides out. He went over tried to push his intestines back in. The boy grabbed his thumb looked at him and died, while his mother was on the other side of the road screaming and crying. He remembers nothing till he was back in base. He was then told it took three men to prize him from the boy who was cradled in his arms.
Joe had a cross around his neck. I asked if he was a man of Faith. He said, “Yes.” I asked him if he knew where that child was, he said, “with God.” I then in my own special and different way had him “offer the bitter root to Christ.” This involves three chairs. The person sitting in the one at the center, putting Christ in the left one and another holy person of his choice in the other. Then I had, with both his hands, bring out all his problems and hold them between his hands in front of him. We then established the shape, size, colour and weight of all his problems. Then slowly he gave them to the holy person and I allowed him to notice how everything began to change as the holy person gave it to Christ who continued the change and gave the change problems back to him. I then had him take out those problems again in his hands and notice the radical change. Catharsis!
We finished off the Phobia Cure now with his TWO sons at the opening of the roof of the theatre repeating the process. Finally with his two sons in the aisle seat.. It was done over, schluss basta, aus!
The two most stressful items were now Zeros and his Fibromyalgia was a 5.
What a great relief for him. He and I knew he was on his way.
As for me, it was a journey of mental tap dancing like crazy and my imagination working overtime. It was some day!
It had only taken two hours from start to finish.
This is how I begin to help people with their problems but it’s only the beginning. From there I have to help him deal with his inner conflicts and dichotomies, re- prioritize his criteria and expand his limiting beliefs all supported by new behaviours.