Anita Kozlowski discusses an NLP Education Case Study with NLP Trainer Michael Beale
Michael : I’m very pleased again to have Anita with us who’s going to talk about how she has managed to change somebody from academic under performer to successful academic performer.
Anita, can you introduce yourself to people again?
Anita : Hello Michael, my name is Anita Kozlowski. I live in Canada. I run a company called Live With Power NLP Seminars – We specialize in offering licensed practitioner training, in house trainings, personal things and customized seminars – We just finished one for therapists in a maximum security prison – Sales seminars, and we are getting into flirtation seminars, because we are finding that this is a very current topic in this world – particularly amongst the second wave of youth – people that have been through three divorces and are now ready for the fourth, successful, attempt.
Michael : Well I shall look forward to talking to you about that some other time – but that sounds interesting, and a genuine place where you can help people.
Anyway, we’re going to talk about this academic under performance. If I can start you of by saying – Can you tell us the client’s original situation? What was their situation? What was their problem? The presented problem of the client?
Anita : I see numerous clients in regards to academic under performance. I came to realise that no two cases are exactly the same, and each case is – As I would say – different.
In this particular case I will talk about a young girl who was fifteen years old, who was obviously very bright, who was either failing exams consistently or being on the verge of failing, which led to significant stress and frustration – and a progressive resistance to attending school.
So that’s my client.
Michael : What would have happened had that continued? If you didn’t do anything, if she didn’t do anything, what would have happened?
Anita : She would have dropped out of school because she was at a point where she lost confidence with herself and for her attendance at school became so painful that it became not worthwhile. She had a whole bunch of psycho-somatic problems such as headaches, migraines, different things which kept her from school. Classic anxiety syndromes and it was only a matter of time before she would not be attending school – Which was the concern, particularly, for her family.
Her obvious level of intelligence was not congruent with her level of performance despite good attempts that she produced.
Michael : And at that state you found out what your clients current situation is – What are your own objectives/ What did you want to do? What outcome were you aiming for?
Anita : Obviously my objective would be that her academic performance would improve to the degree that she would be able to continue at school – The immediate objective would be to find out exactly what is the structure of the problem – How does she construct this inability to perform academically in situations where it matters?
Each client as I’ve mentioned before, is different – There can be numerous reasons leading to a particular outcome. This was my first objective, because after establishing the structure of the problem, the intervention is quite simple.
Michael : So what did you actually do? Tell me some of the things you did in sequence, if sequence is important.
Anita : Sure. When I first saw this girl I saw that she was already quite resistant to any change. She had seem numerous therapists – She had also been diagnosed with all kinds of fashionable labels like ADD and god knows what ever medical aides are coming on the market. And she had displayed a significant degree of anxiety because she was already expecting to be talked down to like before – so even before I could engage in a discussion of the problem or establish rapport with her – with I did by talk about things that are completely irrelevant to the issue.
I asked her about different things she did every single day. We discussed some of her friends and this got her to talk to me in the first place. Which she did.
Then, looking at her, and having met her mother who was a highly achieved professional, I got the feeling that there had been a significant amount of pressure on this child to perform academically, which explained the degree of stress that she experienced. That was my hypothesis.
So I said ‘I remember a time when I was attending school, and I remember not being so good in maths and then coming home and being really afraid of what my father would say, because my father was very ambitious.’
And I could see her eyes light up and I could see that we connected – and I knew that we were on the same frame.
Then I switched the subject, and left that loop open, and asked ‘By the way, what do you do for fun?’
And she told me ‘Oh I do horse jumping.’ and she proceeded to tell me how she was a successful horse jumper and how she had been entering many competitions and actually winning them. Which was a good piece of information to utilise down the road.
So in that position we were in a state of rapport where I could examine that problem and look at it.
So from then on, I said to her ‘Tell me about this problem that you had in the past, that problem that you had in exams – because I know in academic situations there can be numerous reasons for under performance, that could be simple things such as environmental concerns -such as noises and pollution or the desks – or a particular teacher that teaches in a way which isn’t congruent to the way that people process information.
There could be things like a lack of preparation which could be easy to fix. Or there could be an actual bodily response to the the exam, at which point the student wouldn’t actually be able to see the exam, but be so busy trying to solve the problem that the exam itself would become irrelevant at which point the different types of intervention would be required.
And she told me that she goes to an exam and she sees the moment that she’s getting in the room that huge amount of anxiety and stress – and the moment she sits at the desk she doesn’t even see the paper because everything is just floating in front of her.
So I said to her ‘Ok, let’s say that you didn’t answer the questions – What would happen?’ because I would need to know what under performance really meant to her – what are the consequences.
And she would say ‘I believe that my parents would progressively get mad, and I will not get to that school.’ And there was a whole list of horrible things that could happen if she doesn’t answer those questions properly – Which obviously would be very stressful.
So I said ‘Ok. We’ve got three things to deal with here. We’ve got to alleviate the actual stress. We’ve got to train her to pay attention to the people in front of her about the issue of stress rather than talking about herself about how she can not do it. And three – you need to eliminate the stress so that any sequence of events in an exam situation becomes non stressful for her.
At which point I said ‘Let’s talk about the exams.’ And I switched the subject to how I used to go to school and I used to have a relative who was a teacher – a woman that used to come home – and how she would take a piece of paper and pen and was writing down questions that she would ask the students the next day.
So I re- framed, to make a long story short, the exam into a piece of paper in which the test was written by a retired person who really had to do it for her job. So the exam became only a piece of a paper with things written on it.
And then I talked to her again about all the things that she liked, such as horse jumping. And I said, ‘What do they require of you? What do you need to be a good horse jumper?’
And she said ‘There are X number of gates I have to jump over – I have to memorize it – I have to have a strategy of how to do it quickly.’ And so on and so forth.
And I said ‘Yes it’s actually quite a lot of planning on your part, and strategy. I think that’s a great success – I don’t think that I could do that. That’s pretty cool. So you’re really good at planning and strategizing.’
‘Before you actually jump, what is it that you do in order to convince yourself that you are able to do it?’
She said ‘Well, simple. I empty my mind, I go into that state of peace and I say to myself ‘I am ready”
I said ‘Say it – Say it exactly how you have said it.’
And she said ‘I am ready.’
So she had given me a strategy for success.
And I said ‘So actually when you get ready and empty your mind in that fashion, you already know that you are going to get on with it?’
She said ‘Yes. I have already finished.’
I said ‘Cool. You already know how to succeed. Do you realize that if you have this ability you can use it any time that you want in situation in your life. It doesn’t matter if it’s horse jumping, answering questions on a piece of paper that somebody has scribbled down the night before on their kitchen table and translated into a computer – If it’s going for a first date or any of those things.’
The other things in her life were strategies that could be useful.
And I said ‘Let’s construct a little device, because you already know because we discussed these strategies earlier that we have cameras in our place, but we also have other cool devices – any time you need to access this state of piece where you need to say ‘I am ready’ with that convincing voice, which you already know you gives you permission to succeeded – You will just press this button inside of you, which only you know about, and you will get there right there and then.’
So we installed this kind of internal machine, which we practiced, and I could see a few times that she was getting into this state very quickly and simulate that scenario.
And I said ‘now let’s imagine you’re walking into the room where this piece of paper, which was written on a kitchen table the night before, will be presented – really it will be printed from a computer – and I want you to access that state.’
And she did.
I said ‘How do you feel?’
‘I feel great’
‘Ok now, sit down. and look at this piece of paper with all of these scribbles – Just for a moment let it sit there.”
And she did.
“How does it feel?”
She said “I feel it’s just a piece of paper with some scribbles on it.”
I said “Exactly. Now lets forget about that for now.”
We of course did some installations there.
I said ‘Now do you like adventure?”
And she told me about camping and she said ‘Yes.’
‘Do you know about orienteering?’
She said that she had done it a few times. She had been given a map and given some information and had to get from point A to point B.
“Isn’t it exciting?”
She says “Yeah. I like the actual searching for the shortest way to get there and so on.”
I said “Exactly, you are given a certain amount of information. When you look at so-called exams, which are nothing more then pieces of paper with stuff written on them – It’s like a puzzle. A lot of the information is already given. That is, if you pay attention to it, all you have to do is to fill in the blanks – and usually there will be one blank or two blanks, it really doesn’t matter – being given all this information makes it easy to figure out.”
“So how about you consider it an adventure – a puzzle – Just the same way as when you are orienteering, or planning a camping trip with your friends – You know how to get from point A to point B when you go on a hiking trail.”
She says “Yeah.”
So I say “The thing is what you pay attention to is what matters. If you were talking to yourself saying that you couldn’t do it, obviously you didn’t have the time or space to even look at the puzzles that are in front of you. You might as well be watching television. It makes no difference whether you are talking to yourself, or watching TV or reading a newspaper – How about paying attention and searching for certain clues?’
She said ‘Yeah, that is actually interesting.’
So I then had a book of puzzles with me which I had used when I was at the pool with my kids.
I said “OK, I will give you a puzzle and I would like you to solve it, no matter how long it takes.”
I said that it was very easy, which it was, and she solved it. I asked her how she did.
She said “Well I read the question, and I read for all of the pieces of information and then I filled in the blank.”
I said ‘Exactly. So that’s exactly what you do When you’re presented with a piece of paper with scribbles on it from the night before – by, probably a very tired teacher. Next time that you go through this situation you will utilize your wonderful muscle – you will get into that state and then you will just look at this as an adventure, as a trip – in a labyrinth of information where you will find your way.’
She said ‘Great’
Then we talked about pleasurable things. And then I asked her a few spontaneous questions, for example from puzzle books – which she answered with great excitement.
And I said ‘This is the exact attitude you will use every time you enter into a stressful situation – And you will do extremely well from now on.’
So she went home, and her mother phoned me a few days later and said ‘It’s amazing, she got ninety eight per cent on her last maths exam!’
I said “That’s pretty cool.”
Compared to what she was getting just a month earlier it was a great improvement.
That’s the short synopsis of what took place.
Michael : Excellent. And again, looking to the future – What difference to you think that it’s going to make to this child, this youth’s life?
Anita : It’s going to make a huge difference, because first of all she was retrained to look at things in a different fashion. She got rid of her fear and instead established a state of curiosity, which is in my opinion a necessary state to have to be at school. In the absence of curiosity I believe people are not likely to succeed.
At the same time she realized that she’s in charge of her own task and she is in control of her own performance. Of course later one we also reframed her dependency on her responses to external environments so that she was not dependent psychologically on the feedback that she received from her parents – because after all it was her adventure, just like a horseback riding competition.
Michael : And to summarize again – what are the learning points you’ve taken out? Is there anything that you would like to add or any learning points that you think are particularly of interest in this case?
Anita : As I said, every problem is different and has a different structure. So when we address different problems we address it on multiple levels – But keeping an underlying belief which leads to a particular outcome. And at the same time when you work with different clients with different problems you utilise all the methods simultaneously, right from the moment of gathering information.
What I’ve found is that people will often underestimate the importance of gathering information and gathering the structure of the problem. Not only is it essential for us as practitioners to elicit change, because in order to do it we need to understand the structure exactly of how they constructed the problem – but at the same time it also gives us an opportunity to start working with the client while gathering information through various reframing patterns.
We can facilitate massive changes whilst reframing information.
And at the same time I also found that we can designate a client’s strategy, a client’s decision strategies – motivation strategies and meta programs – all those things that we can utilise later on through the process of interventions when we have designated the structure of the problem.
So – No two clients are the same. And no two problems are exactly the same – each one is a new place that we need to approach with an open mind and ask the write questions, which are often more far reaching that the immediately problem that we see in them – Because often the problem that people present is not the problem there is.
So when I look at problems (So called.) I don’t focus only on the immediate problem which they believe it is – Rather the genetic structure in which the problem occurs, so that we can apply a little change at the level of the problem but also so we can see it within the global structure within which it happens.
Michael : That’s really really good. And really just to finish off, can you remind people of your contact details if anyone would like to contact you?
Anita :My phone number is 587 599-2061 and our website is firstname.lastname@example.org or www.livewithpower.com. And we often have an upcoming licensed practitioner training. You are more than welcome to attend.
Michael : Excellent. Thank you very much indeed.
Anita :My pleasure.
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