Listening Differently

Elena Ray

Listening Differently

What’s the difference between Symbolic modelling and counselling, psychotherapy, CBT, hypnotherapy or Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)?

Listening Differently.

We all need someone to listen to us when things get difficult, but we know from experience that not all listening is the same. Some people seem to be naturally good listeners, attentive and understanding, letting you know that you’ve been heard without pressure. Others, with all of the best will in the world, seem compelled to impose their views on us. Typically what we want from someone is the space to explore, often around difficult areas where we can feel pain and confusion. Just having this can be enough to feel better and Indeed this is essentially what counselling provides for when things get on top of us. Psychotherapy goes beyond listening by adding the intention to guide people through the most difficult and uncomfortable of experiences to achieve growth. It’s a tough profession, fraught with the difficulties of trying to navigate in sometimes turbulent waters.

Why is it that we have this need to be heard in any case? The truth is that being heard makes a difference. When we talk we bring parts of our world into awareness and, given the light, those parts can be freed to respond more naturally, to suit us better.

Now, here is something truly remarkable. The process called symbolic modelling transforms the art of listening like a zen master transforms a garden. Just as in the garden, the zen master takes what grows naturally and shapes it to take on a new and harmonious beauty, symbolic modelling takes the natural process of listening, asking questions, and shapes this in a beautiful harmonious way into a way of being heard that most people have never experienced before.

When I first experienced talking to a symbolic modeller a couple of minutes into the session I caught my breath with surprise and heard myself thinking “at last, someone can hear me”. Accompanying this was a clear sense of a part of me waking up and paying attention. It was as if a part of me that had been sitting alone in a bare grey room, long resigned to remaining unheard, suddenly had someone there in the room with them, silhouetted by the warm bright light from a doorway that had not opened for years. It was quite startling.

This experience of being heard is enough in and of itself to be worth knowing about. The power of simply being heard in those places where we are not otherwise readily able to express ourselves is huge. For all of us there are some areas in which it becomes difficult to express ourselves, whether because of confusion, complexity, fear of disapproval or our own conflict, and the liberation of finding a way to be heard is enormous. It is the energy that drives creative acts like art, music, sculpture.

Here is something even more remarkable though. Talking to a symbolic modeller doesn’t just help a little bit. It helps a lot. In fact it has more potential for perfectly fitting deep lasting change than any other process I know of, including such things as NLP (neuro linguistic programming), CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), or classic hypnotherapy. Profound change as it happens in symbolic modelling is driven entirely by the client’s holistic system, naturally and in the moment. It is the spontaneous re-alignment that happens when all of the pieces come into awareness and become free to move and reshape. There within the zen garden of the symbolic modelling session.

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Everyone needs to tell their story,

and when you do everything changes.