How Therapy Works
A frequently asked question by people seeking therapy is how does it work? In order to understand this it is important to understand how we develop problems.
What Makes You Who You Are?
Morris Massey an eminent Sociologist, surmised that we go through three distinct development periods as we grow into adulthood. These development periods define who we become.
- Imprint Period occurs from the ages of 0 to 7. The most crucial period being from age 2 to 4 when major imprinting occurs. During this period we absorb information without any analysis. So if during this period the child is told they are “bad”, they may take this literally without putting it into context. Thus they may think they are a bad person , without taking into account that what was really meant was that their behavior had been deemed bad by a person. Phobias tend to have origins within this period, generally from the years of 3 to 7. (Further events generally just reinforce the original traumatizing event)
- Modeling Period occurs from the years 8 to 13. This is when we begin to notice the behavior of friends, family and heroes. The age of ten being highly significant is often when we begin to emulate our heroes. The environment around the person has a powerful effect upon them.
- Socialization Period occurs from the during the ages of 14 to 21. This is where we develop relationship and social values. After the age of 21 , core values do not change unless a significant emotional event occurs or effective therapy. Normal values change and grow over time
During these periods we develop our values in life. Beliefs develop around our values. Beliefs and values have a very powerful affect on your life, because we filter all our information through them. Thus if you develop a belief such as “I am boring”, then your mind begins to only see things that confirm this belief. A good example of this is a client who came to my clinic with exactly that belief. She went on to say she knew it was true because people were not interested in anything she said. When she told me this, I had to ask her to repeat the statement several times because she spoke so softly it was almost impossible to hear what she was saying. Interesting, because in normal everyday life very few people are going to point out that you are not speaking load enough, they will tend to walk away. She was interpreting this as further conformation that she was boring. Thus because she had that belief she was only aware of the evidence that confirmed her belief, blocking out any contradictory evidence. The fact that she spoke so softly may also have been caused by the belief, because if you are boring, no one is interested in what you have to say. She behaved in that way.
The function of beliefs
The unconscious mind is the part of our mind which controls things such as growth/ repair of the skin, the dilation of the eyes etc. It holds within it our memories. It is a very powerful part of our mind. It has been calculated that the unconscious mind deals with up to 2,000,000 bits of information per second. The conscious mind on the other hand can deal with 134 bits per second which translates to 7+ or – 2 chunks.
Taking these figures, it is obvious that the unconscious part of your mind is a very powerful part.
In order not to overload the capacity of the conscious mind , the unconscious mind filters incoming information. The filters that it uses are, beliefs, values, memories etc.
How do we develop beliefs?
As children who are we to contest or dispute that if someone says, “you’ll never succeed in life”, that they are not telling the absolute truth. Children can internalize these ideas and treat them as if they are reality. Each time they try to succeed the little internal programme, “you’ll never succeed in life” reminding them that they will never succeed and subtly affecting their behavior in such a way that success eludes them. So as we go through these developmental stages we begin to form many beliefs around who we are, what life is like, etc. These internal programmes are constantly running affecting every moment of our life.
Even one negative belief can have a profound effect on an individual. A client came to my clinic with a drink problem. He was continually stressed although he had a lifestyle that most people would envy and should not have been stressful in any way. But when I took a past history from the client I found out that in his previous job he had been promoted, this led to a mental breakdown. Identifying what was stressful about his promotion that had led to his eventual retirement it became evident that he had a belief that, “other people were better than him”. He was a school teacher and prior to his promotion he had only had to teach the children. The promotion to head teacher led to him interacting on a daily basis with his peers. In this situation the negative belief was having a powerful insidious effect on his health.
Using targeted questioning techniques we traced back where he had formed that belief. When he was seven years old he had changed school. Being enthusiastic and keen, during a mathematics lesson he had tried to answer the teachers questions, and got them all wrong in front of his classmates. An event such as this can be quite traumatic for a child. We often form beliefs at highly emotional moments in our lives. Some of these beliefs work for us and as in this case some work against us. (EFT™ reframing was used to change this belief)
Another client I worked with believed, “you can’t trust people”. We traced this back to an event when she was a toddler and someone had nearly dropped her. The client laughed, when she realized were she had formed it and said, “imagine believing, you can’t trust people because one silly idiot nearly dropped me”. (NLP -Timeline Therapy was used).
The Effects of Beliefs
Beliefs filter the incoming information available to the conscious mind. They act like blinkers that restrict information, blocking out any that is contradictory. They are the mind/ bodies underlying programmes and have a powerful effect on your life. They influence your behavior often without you realizing it. But beliefs are not set in stone, they are changeable. When you think about whether you believe something you are merely checking whether you have a feeling of certainty that it is true. Changing a belief that limits a person in their life can have a very powerful effect right across the board. So if a person has a very powerful limiting belief such as, “I’m not worthy”. The potential impact of no longer believing this is great.
How can you change beliefs?
There are many techniques that can change beliefs very quickly, these include, NLP-submodality belief change; NLP- Timeline Therapy; EFT™; TAT™; NLP- reframing; hypnotherapy.
As people go through their lives different events occur. Some of these are highly emotional events. Although the person moves on with their life it does not necessarily mean that the event is no longer affecting them.
If you think about a negative past event and feel emotions, that event is still impacting upon you. When highly traumatic events occur such as a panic attack, because the survival instinct kicks in, we seldom process the event out. So often a person will still have emotions locked in around the it even if they are not consciously aware of it. People will often say, “but that doesn’t bother me”, then be surprised that they feel quite emotional when they truly put their mind on it. Just because it is not uppermost in your mind does not mean it isn’t affecting you.
How does therapy work?
- Therapy works by identifying the negative beliefs that do not work for you in your life and changing them
Generally when a negative belief is changed a positive belief naturally occurs, without the therapist having to intervene
- By eliminating negative feelings
The mind organizes all events with the same feelings together. So although you may have had a particular feeling multiple times in your life there are ways to eliminate it rapidly.