NLP in the world - Interview Series

Sara Haboubi – Ireland – NLP and Teenagers

Thanks a lot to Sara Haboubi for joining me today. Sara Haboubi is practising in Ireland, Edenderry and can be found on Facebook , LinkedIn or twitter. Sara’s Web Site is and can be followed on facebook or on Quantum Leaps Blog.

Talking4good (T4G): Sara, thanks for joining me today. So, how did you come into contact with NLP?
Sara: How long do you have? <Laughs> Hum, very first time I heard about NLP was around 95-96. I was working on a building site and the secretary, who had taken some NLP trainings, told me once ‘you should do NLP training’ and because I trusted her, I kept this at the back of my head. Then when I was living in Bangkok, I was running a holistic centre and we had practitioners from around the world that would come for 3 weeks. One time we had a guy from England and where he was staying there was as well a woman, an NLP practitioner, on holidays. She obviously NLP him for like 3 hours one night, as when he came in, the following day, he said ‘I don’t know what that woman to do to me’. Obviously he knew about NLP because he kind of knew what she was about. So the woman came in, and my business partner had a session with her. By that time I had been separated for 6 months and I had my own issues and I had tried anything I came into contact with. Anyway this woman came back and I had my session. In 20-25 minutes it was all gone. And I had really tried anything I could before but I could never find anything that was going to the root. At the end of that session I was under shock to see my problem completely removed. I just said ‘Oh my god you have to teach me.’ I did not know she was a trainer. So we got a few people together and we got the training. I had no intention ever to work in NLP. That was 2002.

T4G: What NLP qualifications do you have now?
Sara: I have Practitioner, Master Practitioner and Train the Trainer.

T4G: Who did you train with?
Sara: I did my first level with Annette Young, this Canadian woman, and the second two levels Master Practitioner and Train the Trainer with Tad James and Adriana.

T4G: Which association would you be accredited by?
Sara: It would be the American Board of NLP and also the Timeline Association in the States.

T4G: How long have you been working with NLP now?
Sara: Nine years.

T4G: So… what do you like best about NLP?
Sara: I think its simplicity. And I think the fact that you don’t have to get into the details. I believe it’s human nature to ask why and get into the whole background. It’s interesting but it’s not very useful. I am an extremely empathic person and I really feel what people feel, and it’s such a dangerous place to be when you work with people that had gone through huge traumas. Quite often I would help other people but then I would stay in the swamp, and it could take me weeks to get out of there. I did not know how to protect myself, and this is something great that NLP gave me, to not getting there with them. You can be compassionate but you don’t have to feel what they are feeling. I love that ability.

T4G: Can you expand on that first comment, its simplicity?
Sara: It’s about how people are doing things rather than what they are doing. How they’re thinking rather than their behaviour. Like yesterday, I started working with a young lad. So I started explaining that I was not interesting in his behaviours but I was interesting in what was going inside of him, what makes him tick and that I could give him some tools for him to decide what is right for him. NLP is very much about looking at the process the person is going through rather than what they are actually experiencing, and I think it makes it simple. The best thing, about NLP, is always about what you can learn from a situation. I like that because I don’t heal anyone, I don’t cure anyone, I’m just the guide to help that person helping themselves.

T4G: What about using NLP with teenagers? What techniques would you use?
Sara: I would use any of the techniques that work. In case of this young lad, I thought about timeline therapy and he looked at me as if I had two heads, so I went back and assessed what other approach would work better with him, something like collapse anchors. At the same time I had students going into the timeline therapy without any problems and finding it brilliant. I don’t really look at them as teenagers. It’s exactly the same as working with adults. You have to build the rapport, you have to go into that space with them and find what the problem is for them. I don’t assume to have authority over them or I don’t assume to know better because I am older. They get respect. I’m just the guide, I’m not going to give them advice, I’m not telling them what they have to do and I think they like that.

T4G: Would you say NLP is helping to respect people or to teach respect?
Sara: One of the pre-suppositions of NLP is that you respect the other person model of the world, which means you recognize that not everybody has the same point of view, and that’s okay, they are allowed to have a different opinion. For me it is ultimately about respect. If you empower yourself you don’t have to take it from anybody and I believe this creates respect.

T4G: What type of issues have you worked on with those teenagers?
Sara: On the surface it always looks like it’s about learning. But, let me give you a bit of a background on how I ended up in the education system. I approached a chap in town; I actually rang him by accident looking for someone else with a similar name. He gave me half an hour to describe what I was doing. Two hours later, he was really interested. He just had no idea how to fund it. Three or four months later I had a phone call from him -‘look we have a young lad, he is on the verge of being expelled and his mum is about to pull the plug to avoid having this on his record. If you can do this you’re in!’- In my mind, I knew I could help this kid, not about staying or leaving, but about helping him making the right decision for him. I had three sessions of 30 minutes, and I had a light bulb on the third one. He had this belief -‘I’m stupid’- and yes if he was his belief, why bother in school. There was too big a leap from ‘I am stupid’ to ‘I am clever’ so he decided on ‘if I put my mind onto something I can do it’. We used map across belief change. This was the biggest shift I have actually seen in a client, his all posture change, and he decided to stay. He simply said ‘I’m going to stay because I know if I put my mind onto it I can do it.’ He could actually not believe he had really said that. It was amazing. I started working with 6th year students but it was too late, lots of these kids had already lost their motivation long time ago, or lost faith in the system, so we went earlier and earlier, and the last couple of years I was working with first and second year. It becomes more and more obvious to me that these kids need help at 4-5 years old when they start school, unless the education system is changing.

T4G: What would be your recommendation then to change this education system?
Sara: My God… Where do I start? First of all we need a complete shift in attitude from the pedagogy of the empty vessel syndrome. You know, I have a five years old son, and he is a pretty intelligent chap, he has a fantastic imagination, but that’s not good for school, that’s outside of the box. We have to go away from that. They’ve done study where they look at diverse thinking, ‘being able to think outside of the box’. The survey shows that 5 or 6 years old, 97% have this diverse thinking ability, 97%, which is enormous. By the end of primary school, which is about 10-11 years old, it has reduced dramatically because they have been educated.

T4G: This is scary actually.
Sara: Really scary. It means you literally lose your ability to think all these different ways. If you think about the world and about all the problems we are having, we keep repeating the same things because we keep thinking the same ways, inside the box.

T4G: This is interesting, simply in terms of NLP, as one of the aims of NLP is to get the client to think outside of the box, where the box is the problem.
Sara: One of my favourite quotes from Einstein is ‘we cannot solve the problem that we created by going back to the same level of thinking’. We have to change our level our thinking.

T4G: Would you think that NLP should be included into education path?
Sara: Yes all teachers should be trained in NLP.

T4G: And NLP taught to kids at school?
Sara: Absolutely, but we still need to train the teachers first and that’s my aim. I have been very lucky to have already worked with teachers, they see that I am genuine and they are more interested. This year I was given a huge job to help kids that were in primary school and still not able to read or write. That’s way too late, and I had 32 kids and only 18 hours. The biggest problem is that there was no baseline, nothing to prove that there was a progress. I would have expected something like the 11+ in UK. So I was planting seeds and I had a good chat with teachers and we set up a small training. They loved it. Recently I work with a woman, Olive Hickmott, using ‘Energetic NLP’ to help students. She has been really successful with schools in Holland, but not government schools, international schools because they are autonomous.

T4G: Tell us more about ‘Energetic NLP’?
Sara: I am still learning about it. It’s NLP but it’s more focusing on what’s happening energetically inside of us, and actually using visualization and anchoring but in a slightly different way. One of the things in learning she said, and for me it would have been another light bulb, is ‘the less grounded the person is, the less your mind is connected with your body or the more you’re out of your body, the higher the learning discrepancy spectrum.’ Just using that belief, you can help anybody because all you have to do is bring them into their body.

T4G: This would be something that has been said about ADD kids, that they are too much in their head and as a result not grounded.
Sara: Completely. Everybody is ungrounded at some point in their life. You know when you have lots of stuff going on and you are really worried about it and completely distracted by it, it’s very hard to listen and to learn something. You think then about these kids, they have got so much stimulation around in their outside world.

T4G: What’s your aim when teaching NLP?
Sara: My aim is small training, in-depth knowledge, lots of questions. I’m like an open book out there and then supervising my students, this is why I introduced practice time before certification and practice sessions. I definitely think certifying people after seven days is the wrong way to go at it, the 21 days okay, yes do that but add the practice hours in between.

T4G: I would really agree that the supervising is a key point, the same way that doing practice hours before you certified is fantastic. Meeting regularly with other practitioners is also invaluable, as well as CPD.
Sara: The whole thing about CPD and having to meet up or getting updates, I think that’s a great idea to avoid isolation. It’s such a huge area. What really impresses me most when I went to UK was the diversity on how NLP is used. There is no restriction on how NLP can be used and whatever your passion is, NLP can be there. The practice day with my students, for me, has become a key thing. I like hearing students’ feedbacks, and see them thinking. As a NLP practitioner you don’t know what to do until you are in there. If you only think techniques, you are only going left brain and I think you are losing what makes NLP NLP; what makes it work.

T4G: What about NLP and research?
Sara: It looks like there is an explosion of NLP and research, certainly in UK –the University of Surrey –A charity group called the CFBT trust. I think there needs to be more research. I like that book RESOLVE (Richard Bolstad) as it actually shows that research has already been done. The origin of NLP is modelling, so a lot of research has already been done in these area that have been modelled; it was just not called NLP and people are just not aware of it.

T4G: What would you like to do next with NLP?
Sara: What I like to do next? I already have my plans. I am going to be really focusing on learning difficulties at the adult level. I also want to work more at the teachers’ level. I know this can make a bigger difference, that a training is missing at the teachers’ level. I am actually developing a whole system called ‘Unlock the Learning Potential’. And I can’t think of a better title as I do believe we can all do better, whatever better is, getting an A or a D, it doesn’t matter. We also need to change the approach to education, along the way you have motivation issues, value issues. You got a bright kid that will ask ‘why am I here?’ You can’t any more reply ‘to get a job’. There is no guarantee this is going to happen, that story is now fumbling so you have to have a different reason for learning. So ‘Unlock the Learning Potential’ is coming from a lot of different angles, and my big task is to get into training teachers to explain, because it is so simple but can make a huge difference. Then you have the parents’ level, what they can do as well.

T4G: A last comment to conclude?
Sara: I think the biggest lesson I had in the past nine years is that life is a process. So many people are just looking for a solution, like a pill to make your life perfect. I had such a dramatic shift after I started NLP, my life is not perfect now but this is actually what makes it perfect. I think we got so caught up in that, we need all to listen to the messages that are being sent. Nine years later on I am still learning. We are evolving, we don’t get to the point that everything is perfect, because that’s not what life is about and I think lot of NLP people need to admit that, I think that it would help the cause. It’s scary to admit your vulnerabilities. That’s my final comment really, the beauty of NLP is that it can be yours, you can make it yours.

© 2011 Florence Dambricourt –