We have had:
- Social workers
- Police, probation and prison officers
- People who work with children
- Drug and alcohol dependency counsellors
- Delegates from charities working with stroke victims and autistic people
Many of these individuals arrive at the courses quite sceptical. They want new, useful tools, but they’ve tried a lot already and many haven’t proven to work that well.
Been there, done that…
How NLP helps in social and caring work
I get a buzz from working with these people because it’s fun seeing them get into NLP and realize what it can offer, and because I know that what they learn will go on to help others, too.
Typically, NLP helps in the following ways:
‘Pace and lead’ to calm dangerous situations
The ability to do what NLP calls ‘Pace and Lead’ is the best way I know for calming and dealing with people, especially volatile ones, in dangerous crisis situations.
It is so much easier to influence someone if you can establish rapport with them: you may get an insight into how they are feeling, and they will certainly be more open to being led to a calmer, more resourceful state. I teach this technique on the first day of practitioner training, but come back to it over and over again on the course, as it is so central to what NLP is all about.
The Well-formed Outcome process to achieve goals
The Well-formed Outcome process can be an eye-opener for people who have heard endless talk about goals but not learnt a workable process for establishing and achieving them. Care professionals can use this in their life and teach it to vulnerable people to help them increase control over their lives, too.
This process can sometimes open up deeper therapeutic issues – but it can easily be completed without having to make a detour into such issues. Later it might be possible and appropriate to make deeper, more therapeutic interventions.
NLP possesses a powerful array of tools for unpicking trauma patterns and dealing with issues like co-dependency and phobias.
The NLP Meta model to challenge unhelpful thoughts
At a less challenging level, the NLP ‘Meta-model’ works like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to challenge unhelpful thinking patterns revealed in ordinary speech. It was developed around the same time as CBT and is, in my view, just as powerful.
It can also be used quite informally, in the course of ordinary conversation; it doesn’t have to be formally wheeled on as ‘therapy’.
I teach various anchoring and mindfulness practices. Caring can be appallingly stressful, and NLP has powerful tools for de-stressing before, after and – perhaps most useful of all – during difficult encounters. Like the goal-setting technique I mentioned earlier, these tools can also be taught to clients to help them find confidence and calm.
Not just a bag of tools
I studied coaching along with NLP, and tend to meld the two topics on my courses. I want students to come away not with just a bag of tools – great as those are – but a ‘coaching approach’ to working with people.
This is essentially about negotiating certain rules about the interaction and then going into it with the right intention. Both of these are often overlooked in standard coach training, but lie at the heart of the whole business, in my view.
I like to keep in touch with students once they have qualified. It’s very heartwarming to hear how NLP has helped so many in the field, not just with their challenging clients, but also with their own management of the stress of their important roles.
It’s particularly pleasing when these stories come from people who, on the first day of training, were sceptical about the whole business.