Recently the NLP4Kids team got together for a research project. We are going to be researching the effectiveness of our work in a measured way in a specific area of NLP with a specific defined group of people. On the day, we were very fortunate to have the insight of Olive Hickmott a specialist in learning difficulties who has successfully undertaken a research project previously. Olive gave us some sound advice about the effectiveness of our work, pointing out that any area of impact we look into with children could be reduced or indeed heightened by the parents and teachers around that child.

Earlier this week I was working with a young person who has been having some difficulties in his life. The difficulties came about because his life went through several significant changes in a short space of time. He moved to a different area, joined a new school, got bullied, his parents divorced, he moved house again and the dynamics of his family changed considerably. As a result he started acting in unwanted ways and become a great worry to his family. Then they came to see me.

It’s absolutely true that in working with any individual we have to take into consideration the environmental factors, the people around them and the other influences other than the one we may be having, many of which will be far more powerful than ours. It’s part of the reason why I wrote the NLP4Parents and NLP4Teachers programmes. But it’s also true that when someone changes, there is a ripple effect on the system that potentially used to influence them.

They young person I was working with was relatively mature for his 13 years. During a session of perceptual positions (in which they move to a different physical location in order to take on the personality and view point of others around them who are involved in their situation) he began to realise how his behaviour was affecting others around him, not just him.

Suddenly my initial concern about his environmental factors holding him back became the reins that he could hold and control. It became his power. He was suddenly no longer a victim of his circumstances, causing him to behave in harmful ways as a symptom his life, but the puppeteer who commanded the attention of those around him using his behaviour.

I used the perceptual positions process to highlight this. As he acted out being the other members of his family I referenced back to his own chair that he had been seated in at the start of the session and asked “and how would (his name) getting better affect you, dad?” He then told me then how him taking control would positively influence each member of his family. Of course there could be negative ripple effects here too. Sometimes changing means others do not have to worry about you which can make them feel a little redundant if that’s something they were used to doing.

Ultimately the lesson here is once again that the world around us can prevent us from changing or be out momentum for changing, it simply depends on the perspective you (and the child and family) have on the impact of that change.

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