From Psychotherapist’s Experience


A couple of years ago I met a psychotherapist, expert in family relationships, Frank Pucelik (USA). He is one of the founders of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). The most interesting part of our conversation worth paying attention to was a story about a girl he had worked with. This story is very touching. It is worth reading (literary editing is minimal).


Why have you chosen NLP?


Probably, the reason goes deep into my childhood. I grew up in a family, which in my opinion was not completely normal. Being a child, I already realized that there are less healthy families than families with problems. Later I noticed that those who succeed in this world and achieve something worthwhile came out of happy and what is even more important - full families.


Why NLP? Today, most psychologists choose one particular psychotherapy school and prefer to work in this field. Neuro-linguistic programming is a set of therapeutic skills and styles. Each family has its own style, its unique challenges. If I am a good psychotherapist, I do not "adjust" my style to work with some family, I simply compile a brand-new style, which perfectly suits the family, corresponding to all its problems. Many psychologists on the contrary "adjust" the family in accordance to their therapy style and this often lets them down.


What problems do American families have most often?


Mostly my clients are the families where children have a conflict with law - they run away from home, take drugs, commit violence, attack their parents or get out of control. Typically, I work with the most complicated cases where other experts have not been able to provide qualified assistance.


Can you recall the most interesting case of your practice?


Once, I was asked to work with a teenage girl. She was constantly engaged in fights, often did not return home after school, committed thefts in shops. Not only her classmates were afraid of her, but also her elder sister and even their mother. The girl had all signs of male character.


I met her several times, but she absolutely did not want to keep up a conversation. Little by little, we came to a relationship when on meeting we welcomed each other by a friendly punch on the shoulder. As soon as we finished talking, I told her - "Well, get out of here, you stupid girl." We smiled at each other and she left. After fourth meeting, I realized that I must meet the entire family.


Her father opened the door and asked - "So you are the therapist?" "Yes, sir" - I said. "You came here to tell me how I should treat my family?" "And what do you want? What if I tell you how to do it? But if I do not manage to do this, then you can grab my tie and throw me out of here, because I think nobody has the right to simply come to your house and say what you should do with your family "-" I said. "Well, - said the father – then come in."


I entered the house. There were the father, mother, sister, and this little girl, my friend. It was evident that she did not at all like it. We greeted each other as usually and only after that, she smiled. Then work has begun within the family. Watching the girl, I noticed that she was observing her father attentively, but only when he did not look at her. Moreover, when her father talked about something softly and politely, the girl relaxed her muscles and felt at ease. She loved her father, but as you can imagine, he did not know about it. Once I asked the girl - "Is there anything you want to tell your father?" I gave her a piece of paper and asked her to write it down. She wrote something, but then she quickly crossed everything. 11 times on end. When she gave me this paper back and I read it – I started to cry. It read - "I love you" 11 times, 10 of which were cross out. The girl was not against showing it to her father. He read and started to cry too. This was the beginning of a successful family reunion.


It turned out, that her father as a child was a problem kid too, he constantly had fights at school, could return home late, his parents were afraid of him. I asked - "Does this situation look familiar to you?" He looked at his daughter and I hope understood everything. I know that many therapists had worked with this family but have not achieved significant changes.


Do you think the result was possible due to NLP?


Yes. After all, in order to establish contact with the child, I did not talk about problems she had, she would certainly not like to talk about it, but we discussed what she did with pleasure. For example, we talked about how long a fight lasted and who won. Little by little, I transferred the conversation to topics she disliked. But as she closed back, we returned to discussing fights, her friends. What I used is called pacing in neuro-linguistic programming. I talked with each family member in his own language. When I spoke to her father, I straightened my back, looked him straight into the eyes and was very logical and clear, my voice was firm. I did not impose my services; vice versa, I showed that the father could cope with emerging challenges on his own. With his wife on the contrary, I talked softly, slowly, was more emotional.

What would you advise Russian families to take into account?


It is important to understand that children need positive parents. In a normal family father has to be strong, protecting, responsible, sober and also tender and emotional. Mother must be gentle, kind, loving, but it is possible for her to be intellectual and strong. It is very important for children to know that everything is all right in their family. For this purpose parents have to complain less about how hard life is, so that the child did not loose the important sense of security. Otherwise, parents will not give their children hope for the future.


Prepared by: Konstantin Ufaev