Michael: Welcome Therese. Would you please say what your focus is?
Therese: I’m Therese Ahern, a business coach, and as such, I work with groups of people who are going through some type of change either an expansionary change or contracting change. That’s my area of focus.
Michael: What types of people do you work with?
Therese: Generally large or small enterprises, like an administration of say between 20 to 50 or more, or very large corporations, and sections of large companies.
Michael: What experience do you have yourself of NLP?
Therese: I have completed my Practitioners training here in Australia with a gentleman called Jeffrey Dugan, and last year completed my Master Practitioner training with Robert Dilts in Santa Cruz, in America.
Michael: How do you find that NLP has helped you?
Therese: Well first of all, the fact that it’s modelled on other people’s behaviours and successes is a really useful tool for me because immediately we start the training and discussions about looking at historical cases of what people have done. And it takes us right away from the discussion of why, which can be a very circular and time consuming.
Michael: Interesting, I like that.
Therese: Secondly, because there are models and because there are actual techniques that can either be used directly, or adapted for a business situation, there is much more interaction. Because it’s not only my talking at them, I can get people up to do exercises, and I can actually sort of look for outcomes, or get people to set their own outcomes, and then we can all measure whether got what they wanted at the end of their training.
Michael: If I take the question a little further, and ask how has it helped you either with your existing career, or building on your current career to allow you to do something else — *or move into something totally different, where do you think it’s actually given you more help?
Therese: It’s helped me in all of those areas. What it’s done is given me a tool for my own personal development. So what it’s really done is made me see that regardless of whether I am coaching or training or actually doing a consultancy role, the learning is really about me, not about other people.
Michael: I am curious what other things have helped you to become good at what you do?
Therese: OK I have a long time interest and study of Buddhism. And more from a philosophical study than from a religious view point. And many of the beliefs and assumptions taken in NLP are very consistent with Buddhist type of thinking.
I have also had quite a journey in personal development like the traditional type of counseling as well as transactional analysis. I have studied Freud and some of the greats like Carl Jung; I have done a lot of study of Jung.
I come from a family where my elder sister is a psychiatrist and she is much older than me so it’s almost as though I have been involved in personal development by osmosis from a very young age.
Michael: How would compare and contrast NLP to some of the other things you have mentioned?
Therese: For me, NLP gives me a tool to use. One of the problems with traditional psychology as I see it is that it can really remain a mental, cerebral type of thing and maybe not necessarily have action that’s an outcome of the thinking. With NLP, there is invariably some type of action, some type of model, some type of intervention.
Michael: If someone was thinking about taking up NLP and using it in the sort of business context you were talking about, what advice would you give them as to how they might get the best value from it?
Therese: If they were ready to develop themselves as a person and open their heart, because in many ways NLP is a heart thing, then it will be a fantastic journey. However if they were looking for a tool that could be applied strictly in the same way in every circumstance, they might find NLP a disappointing journey.
Michael: I like that. Can you explain that a little bit more?
Therese: OK, you do really need, I believe — and it’s not only my perspective as we know — some compassion to accept that behind every behavior there is a positive intention. It’s really a bit like the great Buddhist philosopher Thich Nhat Hanh says, that we really have to embrace all the murderers and all the terrible people in ourselves before we can truly have compassion. NLP is a bit like that.
To be able to find the positive intention behind somebody’s apparently extreme behavior like bulimia or anorexia or something, we really have to open our heart and have compassion which NLP describes as staying in position or getting into a meta position. We have to have compassion and be open-hearted, because any kind of judgment will restrict the learning.
Michael: Let’s take your other point that somebody who is looking at NLP purely for some very hard techniques might be disappointed. Just put a few more words around that.
Therese: NLP is not an exact science. It’s more like an experimental science. And because the case studies and the models have been based on human beings, who are never ever the same from moment to moment, we have to look at the big picture, chunk up the model, as we say in NLP, and the person, and then chunk it down as much as we need to for the individual. Which means it has to be different from time to time for each individual, and even from time to time for the same individual, because as the unconscious or the subconscious unravels itself, then we have more information coming.
Which means that we as practitioners have to be adaptable enough to change to the new information.
Michael: OK, excellent. Is there anything else you would like to add? I appreciate that we are talking about a huge subject in a very short space of time.
Therese: Yes. I went to America and I was so enthused, and in some ways thought I had found “it.” Even though our teachers and lecturers cautioned us very much about having thoughts of having found “it” we all still grasped onto it.
So what I observed between myself and all my colleagues is that we all went away and we all kind of crashed for about six months. Seemed to be almost in proportion to how high we got about this. So we are now finding ourselves six to nine months later regrouping and starting to share our experiences and actual work experiences through an NLP forum.
So I guess the caution I am giving is that NLP is a tool that is to be used along side of your life experiences and along side of all your other learnings.
It’s not the be all and end all for everything, but it’s a wonderful tool if you see it as an experimental science.
Michael: Brilliant. If anybody wants to contact you, can you provide some contact information?
Therese: Yes, the best way to contact me is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael: Thank you very much indeed.
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