"It’s the relationship that heals"
I’m sure that this quote from Irvin Yalom will be familiar to many of you. Dr. Yalom used it whilst working with a particularly challenging client, and I have always been curious as to what it really meant. In NLP and Hypnotherapy I had learnt, and witnessed, how incredibly quickly we could create change in our clients. So why was I still so preoccupied about the ‘relationship’ being the most important factor for change?
It has always been important to me to follow-up with my clients. I wanted to ensure they experienced lasting and long-term results. After several years of NLP practice and follow-up I found some discrepancies in the results sustained over time. Some of my clients achieved amazing results, like Jane, my first client, who sorted her nail biting in one session. But for others, after just a few months, the initial improvements would fade or the issues would come back. This was more obvious in “complex” cases, such as health issues or traumas stemming from the past.
I decided to use modelling to explore the difference between my clients who experienced lasting change, and those who experienced re-occurrences of their problems. I wanted to discover why, with some clients, the standard NLP techniques were simply not as effective over time.
I started to take more time in the initial consultations, to get to know and understand my clients: their personality, their learning style, their fears and hidden secondary gains. I would gather as much information as possible before deciding which NLP tool to use later on. To my great surprise, a lot of the time I didn’t even need to use a particular process: the change happened magically, without any particular technique.
I couldn’t figure out how this was happening - how we managed to create the shift they had been struggling with for so many years, simply with talking and questioning. I was indeed using some coaching tools and sometimes sharing other, different new approaches, but was it that simple? Was it just about a conversation punctuated with some questions skillful enough to unlock deep unconscious blockages?
I was a bit baffled, I must admit. Then, one day, one of them said to me “I feel so understood, so accepted when I talk to you; no one knows me as well as you do”. And the penny dropped. That’s what was so fundamentally crucial about the healing relationship - offering unconditional positive regard and acceptance.
I immediately realised that I was unconsciously using the psychotherapeutic Rogerian Person-Centred mind-set with my clients – but combined with the solution-focused approach that is NLP. And interestingly enough, most of my clients resolved their deepest issues in much less time than with the standard psychotherapy routes. The Person-Centred NLP approach was born.
The results were amazing, and my practice grew exponentially as a result of satisfied clients referring me to friends and family. Over time, however, I also realised that some clients just didn’t respond to NLP. So I decided to enrich my therapeutic repertoire by gradually adding EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), TA (Transactional Analysis) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). The wide variety of tools I had at my disposal allowed me to be even more responsive to my clients’ needs and even more ‘client-centred’. I could be fully present and give them exactly what they needed, according to their own unique characteristics.
When I'm asked how I would describe the Person-Centred NLP approach, I liken it to that of a painter. Every client is a new canvas, onto which I apply a touch of TA, a hint of CBT or NLP, a stroke of EFT-Hypnosis to help them become the best version of themselves. The ultimate aim for each client is the same however - to create lasting change throughout their lives.
I love the relationship that is created as a result; instead of seeing clients for only a couple of times and applying a 'one size fits all’ standard process, we work together to elicit the approach which will help them the most. We tailor their treatment based specifically on who they are and what they need. We create enduring results for complex issues, through a unique collaboration of trust and connection that is so much more fulfilling for both client and therapist.
I would love to share with you how you can combine a humanistic person-centred philosophy with a skillful blend of therapeutic tools, how they are wonderfully compatible and how incredible and enduring the impact is that you can have on your clients.
During our session together we will explore a real case study and discover how to take your NLP practice into a truly powerful space where you can build a unique and extraordinary healing relationship, and develop the flexibility and creativity that will instigate the greatest impact in your practice and on your clients.
By Peggy Guglielmino