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Be A Confident Practitioner

Be A Confident Practitioner by Jane Thurnell-Read

The more confident you are as a practitioner the more clients you are likely to have. You are also likely to be more successful both in financial terms and in terms of getting people well. How do you achieve that fabulous confident air?

Of course, people tend to want to see a practitioner who appears to be successful, so you need to pay attention to the trappings of a successful practitioner by having professional brochures, business cards and note heads. You need to dress like a successful, respected practitioner too. You may dismiss this stuff as ‘surface’ and not of great importance, but we know from our therapies that things can have symbolic meaning or act as triggers. In the early days of my practice I would stand visibly taller or sit straighter every time I saw my expensive business card. It had an effect on me, never mind the client!

Acting ‘as if’ is an important part of success in life. No, it’s not lying, although it may feel like that when you start. Your outside is different in many ways from your inside, and that applies whether you consider yourself a failure, whether you areblissfully happy or a multi-millionaire. You put on a front for the world. If you’re not prepared to act as if you are a successful practitioner, ask yourself ‘why not?’ Why is it that in other situations you are prepared to pretend you’re happy when you’re not, or that you like someone who irritates you. I’m not suggesting you should fabricate a whole new persona, but that you should ‘round off’ some of your ‘rough edges’ for the public presentation of yourself.

An important concept in NLP work is putting your body into the physically pose you would have if you were truly experiencing a positive emotion. This physical manifestation will often trigger the corresponding mental/emotional state. It works both ways: if you’re depressed mentally, your body soon starts to sag. Try this – clench your fists and make your body go rigid – do you start to feel irritated or angry? As practitioners we know that the body and the mind are inter-related, that what affects the body affects the mind and vice versa. So have the stance, the body language, of a successful practitioner. Let yourself inhabit that role both in your body and in your mind.

Over 20 years ago I started work as a kinesiologist. I still remember my first paying client very well. I was horrified when he walked through the door. He was 15 and looked like an advert for a hunger crisis charity. He was so thin. He had suffered from severe diarrhoea for many years. He had had an operation some months before to remove a large part of his colon in an attempt to ‘cure’ the problem, but it had not worked. I had been trained as a kinesiologist and knew that I was going to have to apply pressure to his arms and legs. I stood transfixed, terrified that when I did that his bones would break. It was one of the scariest moments of my whole life – my first client and someone like this! My mind was completely blank except for the fear – I couldn’t remember anything of what I’d been taught! I was so tempted to send him away saying that this was too serious for me to deal with, but I looked at him and felt overwhelming pity for his situation. I took a deep breath and made the decision that I would pretend I knew what I was doing.

Would it have been more ‘honest’ to have gone with my terror and turned him away? Wasn’t it better to go with my compassion and desire to do good and pretend a little (or in this case a lot)?

In fact my experience of this session with this boy was that, as I pretended to know what to do, my mind began to clear and I did know what to do. Not perfectly, but enough. Thankfully the story has a very happy ending. Ten days later his mother phoned me up and told me that the diarrhoea had stopped. I saw her around town some months later and she told me, laughing, that she was fed up with having to buy him new clothes now as he was growing so fast.

As practitioners, we seek authenticity and an honest relationship with our clients. I am not suggesting you should lie about your qualifications, expertise, how busy you are or your success rate. These sorts of pretences only reinforce your inner knowledge of failure, but by taking on the role of the successful practitioner we grow into it. Nor am I suggesting that you should pretend to be skilled and knowledgeable rather than putting in the hours of study and application – this is just cheating your client and yourself of the great therapist you could be.

This strategy benefits both us and our clients. We are in a sense hypnotising ourselves into believing something good about ourselves. As children we are often taught not to have a high opinion of ourselves. We need to change this invalid programming. Why reinforce these damaging and unwelcome beliefs, when with some concerted ‘acting as if’ we can step into the arena of our lives and businesses and make a difference. By pretending to be a successful practitioner, we stand tall, adopt the pose and begin to think like one. Study, intelligence, diligence and humility are needed too, but a little bit of acting can help our knowledge, skills and dedication to shine all the brighter.

Copyright 2013 Jane Thurnell-Read