|By Tara Kanerva
The call I received was from a close friend. She told me she was with a woman in crisis and asked if I could help. The situation was grave – this woman, Kelly* was expressing a desire to end her life. She had a son, a job and a full life that was in danger of imploding. She needed an intervention quickly. For just a moment I felt tentative, having quite recently completed my NLP Practitioners Training – but I took a big breath, looked inside and projected out to the future a positive outcome. I was certain I could help, and told her so.
When I met her the next morning her whole body was shaking, her muscles limp and her skin ashen. Crying persistently, her words were difficult to come – disconnected, unsure, and weak. I was however, able to get into deep rapport with her rather quickly, despite her state. As we spoke, even the slightest allusion to past pain, abusive incidents or fateful decisions would shut her down completely.
Her state was one of such anguish, that I knew it was imperative to help her clear away as many negative emotions as possible right away.
When I elicited the direction of her past, she broke down again. She put her hands up and gripped her head fiercely, “It’s all just right here – in here”. She began to cry. And when I asked about her future, she couldn’t see it at all. It didn’t exist – nothing but pain. I reframed, I Milton modelled, I Meta modelled, I chunked up, I chunked down, I used metaphors. Regardless, each attempt at imagining a timeline resulted in the same outcome: The pain engulfed the timeline.
How could I help her release negative emotions if her timeline only hurt her and remained inaccessible? Determined to change her state, I asked her if she could remember a time before the pain. It was tough going, but as we worked, she finally found a time. It was poignant. Her physiology shifted to that of a young girl, relaxed and unburdened.
I knew that a tragic event had occurred when she was 14 years old, and so I promised her that we would not go beyond 14, so that she could stay in this young happy state without having to worry about anything bad happening. I started to anchor these happy memories of her childhood.
I asked her to remember a time when she was five and she was discovering something new that utterly delighted her! I could see she was able to do that. I asked her to reach out with her arm and grab that feeling and bring it in to her chest. I asked her to think back even further to a time when she was a giggling, adorable toddler and to remember the feeling of learning how to run; how proud of herself she felt then! She reached out and grabbed those feelings and brought them into her chest. I asked her to imagine the feeling of being just a baby, wrapped in her mother’s arms, feeling nothing but pure, radiant love. And new tears fell as her face filled with love. Happy tears. Love filled tears. She reached out and grabbed that love and brought it in to her chest. For 15 minutes we did this.
When I felt sure she was solidly in a strong, positive state, I asked her permission, and then moved out past 14 years old and started anchoring times she felt powerful and confident and certain. And then, when it was safe, we moved into the future and I asked her to imagine herself filled with these positive feelings in the future. She smiled so genuinely at this image of herself in her future it was hard to believe this was the same shattered woman I met less than an hour ago.
The anchor was powerful. The shifts in physiology were profound. I asked if there was a part of her that believed in her own strength and ability to find joy in tomorrow. She acknowledged this part, but admitted that the part of her that didn’t believe it was possible still felt substantially stronger.
And so we integrated those two parts of her. It was astounding. The insights and revelations she experienced during and after the integration were transformative for her.
Only then did I ask her to imagine where her past was in relation to herself. She felt it still mostly inside, but she got a sense of it flowing out from beneath her. And, most amazingly, her future emerged! She smiled, and with genuine awe, she said, “Oh, I can feel it now, it’s above me!” And there it was. Her timeline, previously engulfed by the pain, now showing itself, ready to let her journey along it and clear away the painful emotions.
I did three more sessions with Kelly. She released major negative emotions, numerous limiting beliefs dealt with her anxiety and set some wonderful goals in her increasingly bright future timeline. She is now back at work (promoted a few weeks after the intervention), reunited with her family, engaged with her young son and feeling positive and optimistic about the future.
As many practitioners of NLP and Time Line Therapy® have aid before me, there is nothing as important in your work as trusting the process and believing in your ability to create success in your client’s outcome.
Tara Kanerva M.A., IPMP. is a Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Time Line Therapy® Master Practitioner, Hypnosis Master Practitioner and NLP Coach. She is co-founder of Inspired Outcomes, and works in Ontario, Canada. She specializes in working with clients who are experiencing anxiety, making major life changes and striving for excellence.