In article <firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com (John David Rogers) writes:
Well, there is that. There are times when a trainer does something so remarkable that students --- at least me --- just sit there in awe and think ``I want to be able to learn to do things like that!'' It can be as simple as when a trainer says to me (this has happened on a couple of occasions) ``I know there's a conversation going on in your head --- I can see it.'' It's not supernatural, presumably it's just a matter of noticing my lateral eye movements and the way I tilt my head (a little like the cliched posture of a listening dog), but it makes me wish that I could learn to pay more attention to cues like that.
If you look at the file named rex.sikes in my archive you'll find another example.
These things do tend to happen with Richard Bandler more than anyone else and they're probably the main reason people pay so much money to take his seminars, because I think that in many ways he's not that great a teacher.
I remember listening to an audiotape series from a seminar on chaining, and a woman in the audience starts telling Bandler about one of her problems and he asks her two or three questions and then suddenly he says, ``Wait! Slow down! Don't change yet!'' and then ``Damn! Too late, you've already done it and now I can't do my demo.'' And she says something like ``I just realized that this isn't really a problem for me any more.'' And I replayed that sequence several times, trying to figure out: What was it that Bandler did?
Things like this are fascinating (to me, anyway). I'd love to learn to have that kind of charisma. But I don't know whether they make me a believer in NLP or just a believer in Bandler's skills. (Often he doesn't really explain what he does. You have to go to other trainers to get the explanations.)
When I was going through my original practitioner training, I experienced a lot of frustration. We kept spending all our time on rapport and ``sensory acuity'' and learning how to ask questions. We had been told at the beginning that one of the major objectives of the training was for us to make changes in ourselves, but I couldn't see how I could accomplish that if we didn't start learning some techniques.
About three-quarters of the way through, I went through the major change I've described previously (which was not the result of any technique at all) and then I was happier. I figured that no matter what the rest of the training was like, I'd now got my money's worth. But there were still a lot of things that seemed pretty unsatisfactory and I started trying to figure out just exactly which part of the training I was learning from. (There was no doubt that I was in fact learning. I was amazing myself at my skill in working with other people, although still frustrated that my experiences as a subject were still usually much less satisfactory than those as the therapist.)
About a third of the time in training is taken up with lecture material. Another third is given over to demonstrations and questions related to the demonstrations (my class asked a lot of questions). And the remaining third is exercises that students do with each other.
The lectures were fine enough, but they were just theory, after all. And some of the demonstrations were very impressive, but often they didn't present techniques in a very systematic way (especially when Leslie was teaching!) which made them hard to learn from, at least for my linearly organized brain. And more often than not an exercise turned out to be completely frustrating because my partner didn't understand the point of it or was just not able to do it.
For instance, we did an exercise where the subject identifies something that other people do which bugs them. Then the student therapist (I use the term for convenience, although it's somewhat misleading) helps the subject find a resource that will enable the subject not to be irritated. (For instance, humor and curiosity are often good resources in this situation.) And the therapist then uses anchoring to enable the subject to have that resource available in the problem situation.
My partner was a woman who rode a motorcycle and she said it bugged her when people criticized motorcycle riders. But I wasn't having much luck in finding a resource that would enable her to be okay with hearing that sort of criticism, and I couldn't seem to get her to understand the basic idea. Finally I got one of the assistants to come over and my partner wound up saying ``But I don't want to feel okay when they criticize motorcycles. They shouldn't do that. I just want them to stop.'' By the time the assistant explained that that was not a suitable issue to work on for the exercise, we were out of time. (This partner eventually dropped out before the training was completed.)
The instructions ``Choose a partner (or two or three or four)'' became rather frought with anxiety for many of us. You had to be really quick to get someone you thought you could work with successfully. It wasn't until towards the end of the training that I started to understand that often it was the partners who I hadn't wanted to work with that I learned the most from.
The partner who did the really major piece of work with me described in a previous article, for instance, was a thirty-eight year old woman who talked with a California pothead drawl and who seemed to still be stuck in being a flower child (this was 1983). I considered her not very bright and I guess it was a measure of my desperation that I was willing to let her work with me on what was probably the major issue in my life at a time. Of course the intervention she used was not her idea but was suggested by one of the assistants, but her delivery was masterful and I think that this was big part of why it worked. In retrospect, I realized that she had been the perfect therapist to work with me on that particular issue, perhaps not least because my problem made absolutely no sense to her.
(Incidentally, in one of her videotapes Connirae Andreas says that when she was in graduate school in clinical psychology, nobody ever wanted to be the client in exercises because ``being the client was in some sense an insult.'' My NLP training was almost the opposite of this. A lot of students always chose to be the client if possible because they felt inadequate about their ability to be the therapist. Others, like myself, wanted to be the client as often as possible because they had a long laundry list of things they wanted to change.)
But aside from a few really good moments, there was a whole lot in the training I was frustrated with and I was not alone in this respect. So I started wondering just how it was that I seemed to be learning a lot.
In retrospect, it seems that I had been learning a lot more than I'd realized from working with fellow students both during the training sessions themselves and during the study groups between segments of the training (which was broken up essentially into 5 five-day weekends with about a month in between each segment). And I'd learned especially well from those parts of demonstrations which were the most unsystematic and not very readible graspable by my linear thinking. But more than anything else, it seemed, I'd learned from the times when the trainers talked about their own personal experiences.
Leslie, in particular, was always telling stories about herself, driving a lot of the linear thinkers in the audience bats. (Not me. For some reason I could listen to the tapes of her telling those stories over and over again.) When she was teaching a new idea, almost always within a few minutes she would be saying ``I once had a client who ...'' or ``When I was growing up/going to college/etc...''
For instance, ``I once had a client who came to me because he wanted to learn to make friends. He had a pretty successful life, a good job that he made a lot of money at, but somehow he just never seemed to have any friends. So I asked him 'When you're with other people, how can you tell whether they're having a good time or not?' And his answer was 'But why should I care about that?''' Leslie gave one of those marvelous bits of non-verbal communication she was so good at, rolling her eyes and shrugging. ``Not too hard to see what his problem was, is it?''
What is more difficult is seeing why this was more than just an amusing anecdote but was a way of teaching me, at least, how to be more resourceful in my own personal interactions with people and how to effectively use questions to help facilitate change when working with people. (If you watch Leslie's analysis of the work she does with Paula in the Making Futures Real videotape, you learn that she never throws anything into the conversation just for entertainment value. Every joke she makes, every personal anecdote, every aside is intended to accomplish something.)
Years later, all Lynne Conwell's nicely organized expositions of theory were forgotten, at least consciously. But I could still remember the mostly chaotic demonstrations Leslie did and especially the stories she told, and I used these as a guide when I was working with clients myself. It was as if somehow a copy of Leslie had been created within myself and was available when needed. I'd find myself having Leslie-style responses to things. For instance, I'd encounter a person behaving really obnoxiously and instead of just thinking ``What an asshole!'' I'd wonder ``I wonder what could be happening with that person to make him behave in a way that seems to cause him so much pain.''
Well, it's one way of learning to be a therapist. I guess if some people can learn by sitting in classrooms and writing papers and taking exams and doing statistical studies and reading journals, that's fine too.