Can NLP be of help to those with dystonia?

Someone asked the question:

"Here's another issue that I am thinking about how NLP can help. A family member suffers badly with a facial twitch known medically as dystonia. It manifests as blinking and squinting eyes and he tells me it is worse when he is stressed or nervous. When he watches his favourite television programs or a game of footy it doesn't happen but it is there a lot of the time. He is a recovering alcholic who I have noticed has a lot of guilt about his alcoholism (low self esteem shows up a lot) and what he has put his family through.

As a novice I have been wondering what I might build up to doing to help once I have had more practice. I have thought about 6 step reframe. And what about out framing all his frames?


"I saw Paul McKenna treat a young man with Tourette's Syndrome on his show, 'I can change your life'. The method he used was to find out what triggered the twitching, then he created an anchor for a state of relaxation (in your case probably when he's watching tv) on his knee, he built up the relaxation anchor (using a little alert hypnosis if I remember correctly) and then triggered the twitching & used the relaxation anchor to collapse it. He explained it by saying he was recoding the brain to learn that when anxiety occurred it would have a new automatic response. He repeated it several times & then put him in a deep trance. His symptoms were reduced by"

"Another treatment that I remembered was the Touch/Thought Feel Therapy that he used. Maybe you can put a forum up asking about that technique, I've noticed a few people have experience with it. It basically consists of the client thinking of something stressful which normally triggers the twitching and rating it's severity from 1 to 10. Then, tapping various pressure points on the body while continuing to think about the stressful thing. If my memory serves, he tapped about ten times on each place and they were, in sequence, Over the eye, Under the collarbone, Under the armpit, On the wrist palm up on the little finger side of the hand, On the back of the hand between the tendons of the little & ring finger. He kept doing this until the client rated it at about a one or a two. Someone who's certified in TFT would be better placed to explain it."

You can download a FREE introduction to NLP course from here....

Here's the first lesson:

Part 1: Rapport - the art of making a connection with people
There is one thing that comes before anything else if you want to work with others, help them, lead them, influence them, or just enjoy their company, and that is Rapport.

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
- George Bernard Shaw

"Satisfying relationships are built by rapport, not agreement."
- Joseph O'Connor

What is Rapport?
You see rapport in action when you watch two people who are getting on well together. It is like a dance, where the conversation flows between the two of them easily, and there's a sense of harmony between them. They would say they both feel at ease in each other's company.
What you will notice is similarities:

  • Of posture
  • Gestures
  • Expression
  • Tone and speed of voice
  • Language
  • Breathing, and various other elements
It's as if they are subtly mirroring each other as the dance continues, but the flow is so easy that you cannot tell who is leading and who is following.

Why is it useful to develop the art of Rapport?

Time and again in life, you will find that rapport is at the heart of any communication going well. When someone is leading a meeting successfully, they have created rapport in the group. When people are influenced by a leader, it is based on initial rapport. When two people are able to argue without losing connection with each other, it is because they have established rapport.

Rapport is such a basic skill in communication that its applications are numerous. Every situation where you want to build trust and understanding will benefit from your using the skills of rapport: negotiation, interviews, presenting, leading groups, parenting, managing - the list is endless.

Once you have created rapport with a person you will begin to influence them and they you. The higher the level of rapport the greater the potential ability to influence.

How NLP is used to develop rapport

In NLP Rapport is created by calibrating the other person - i.e. noticing in micro-detail what they are doing - and then mirroring their energy and way of being. You can do this just physically, but you will have most success if you also enter mentally and empathetically into their map of the world. NLP teaches the skills of sensory acuity, helping you develop your powers of observation visually, auditorily and kinaesthetically. Further study of NLP gives many different subtle ways in which this can happen, including rapport through language patterns and how people actually code their subjective experience internally.

It is not just about being empathetic: if the other person is tough, you may want your approach to be firm, not soft. To really further your understanding of someone else's experience you may well need to step into their beliefs and values too, their sense of self, and their sense of purpose.

When you have respect for the other person's map, you will be more capable of pacing their way of being. When relating to someone and wishing to influence them then you need to start from where they are. That's why a good presenter will pace where they notice you probably are, i.e., "Wow it's an early start this morning, I bet you hope I'm going to say something that might wake you up".

So in essence rapport, in the NLP sense, is about joining the person or group in their 'Map of the World' to make a connection so that you can then lead, influence or just gain a greater understanding.

Things to begin to notice or try

Start to notice some of the ways in which you can enter into another person's way of being in the world. The most obvious element is body language. You can mirror elements of the other person's physiology, their posture and significant gestures, their facial expression. You can also match their voice: their pitch and tone, their volume and speed of talking, their natural rhythms, whether flowing or disjointed and full of pauses. You can match the other person's use of language, and their way of approaching a subject. On a more subtle level, you can match their breathing and general level of energy. As you learn more about NLP you will find many other fascinating areas where you can match and mirror the other person.

Other things to notice:
  • Become aware of how naturally you just fall in to rapport with some people more than others. Why is that? What beliefs could underlie this?
  • Notice how breaking rapport is also a useful skill. How a conversation can gracefully end just by a simple change in body posture or tone of voice.
  • Notice also how much easier it is to actually argue or debate with someone if you have a good level of physical rapport.

We're not talking about aping the other person and we certainly don't suggest that! It's more about building an awareness in yourself of their way of being in the world and respecting and acknowledging that. Above all rapport is about building a deep sense of curiosity about someone else's map of the world.

Stay curious...

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