I have recently been asked about how my coaching with young people works and what is Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)? So, here is the answer!!
A lot of people say that they have kind of heard of NLP, perhaps have been on a training course where it was mentioned, but when it comes to how it can be useful when working with young people (& for ourselves) ….some are not quite sure.
It is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, in the 1970s. NLP gives us the tools to change our subjective experience.
If you are living with or know a child or young person who right now may need a hand understanding their thoughts about their future, I have added an easy 5 Step NLP Process for you to try at home. You can use these steps with anyone – not just children, NLP can help to get some perspective & challenge some of those unhelpful thoughts.
Please note that these techniques can be used at home by anyone for surface-level issues. If deeper issues are present, then you absolutely should refer your child to a qualified professional who can assist appropriately.
The area of our minds that helps us to organise our thinking, feelings, language and behaviour is our subconscious mind – this is where NLP focusses, as it’s the subconscious mind that produces the outcomes in our life.
With children, techniques that I use are often based around relaxation, visualisation and exploring language in a simplistic, practical way that they can understand. There are more complex techniques suited for adults, business, sports and therapeutic settings. The key is focusing on the outcome a person wishes to create, shifting perception from their existing position to considering potential future outcomes.
Negative patterns of behaviour or unhelpful thought processes can hold us back in life, sometimes even leading to mental ill-health. With challenging times across the world right now, this could be true for many people. NLP works to disrupt those negative patterns, revealing options, opportunities and new choices – some that you may not even have realised that you had.
It’s an incredibly powerful tool that I use as part of my coaching sessions with young people and in PROJECT:ME (Mind Empower) in group workshops. It can be used, for example, to overcome emotional challenges, low self-esteem, management of emotional states, increase resilience, negative self-beliefs and more!
When someone constantly forms sentences in a negative sense, the first thing that I would suggest is to simply make a point (in a kind, calm, curious way) of asking them: ‘Is that true’?
Sounds simple right?
By challenging someone to STOP and test the validity of thought we can start to challenge limiting beliefs. NOTE: It is THEM that needs to get to the conclusion of their own truth, we can only be a support in the process (nagging does NOT work – as a parent I know this to be true!).
Be curious & gentle with your challenge.
We can do this by helping them to reframe negative and unhelpful automatic thoughts.
To support someone to identify their automatic negative thoughts we can use the following 5 step NLP Process; by either having a conversation with them or asking them to write down the following:
1.Firstly, allow them to be aware of the unhelpful thought pattern and ask them to say (or write down) things like ‘What am I thinking right now? or ‘What went through my mind at that moment?’.
2. Challenge the thought. Ask them to say or you ask them: ‘Is that true’ or ‘Is this thought 100% fact?’ or ‘How do I know it is true?’ Give plenty of space for answers.
3. Look for the evidence. Be an investigator of your own thoughts. Ask: ‘How would I know this thought was true?’ and ‘How would I know this thought wasn’t true?’.
4. Find a more helpful thought: ‘What could I think instead that would be more useful right now’ or ‘What thought would make me feel better right now?’ or ‘What else could I think right now’.
5. Practise positive responses to situations that someone identifies as troublesome or upsetting. You could ask them to make a list to keep handy or have positive affirmations posted around their room or around the house as a reminder to challenge those thoughts. Remember, it is our subconscious mind we are tapping into so wherever and whenever we can remind our minds of what we WANT to happen can only be a good thing.
I do not believe perfect exists.
As with everything, a balance is key. It’s the persistent negative self-talk that can be concerning. Developing positive thinking is important to our health and wellbeing.
This 5 step process I believe however, is the simplest one to get going with, keep persevering with it. Try it in different ways: Talking it over, writing it down, whilst taking that hour of exercise on your bikes, over a meal, through a zoom call or even via a text message. Keep the communication going in whatever way works for you.
Sometimes the least formal a conversation is, the greater the impact. Give it a go with your child, your parent – even challenge yourself!
The other question I often get is – does it really work?
For NLP in a coaching relationship to be beneficial, those involved need to 100% commit to wanting to achieve results from our sessions. NLP is not always suitable for those with severe learning difficulties or complex mental health problems. As a professionally trained Careers Adviser and NLP Master Practitioner I am qualified in assessing the needs of young people and will always be honest if my coaching is unsuitable for a child or young person.
Start sowing the seeds of a positive mindset early on to help children to focus on the outcome they wish to create.
Please contact me if you would like to find out more.
Have a great day!
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