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Constructive Goal-Setting

for Teenagers

NLP Trainer Rosie O’Hara applies the Logical Levels to helping youngsters find their way by Caitlin Collins


he American writer Sam Levinson once remarked, with typical caustic New York wit: ‘Insanity is hereditary; you get it from your children.’ I think many people would understand what he meant – especially the parents of teenagers. Not only parents – other people can also find teenagers a challenge. I was once invited to offer some NLP coaching in a school special unit for truculent teenagers; thinking fast and talking faster, I managed to convince them to let me coach the teachers instead, so the teachers could then coach the students – anything to avoid having to tackle the little dears myself ! So when I learned that I was to interview Rosie O’Hara – who actually loves to work with teenagers – I was intrigued as well as admiring! When we talked, Rosie had recently taken part in a day of Motivation and Setting Goals for teenagers at a school in Scotland, the success of which has already led to further requests for her skills. She describes for Rapport readers how she is using the NLP Logical Levels process with youngsters. ‘Many teenagers are more or less goal-less,’ explains Rosie. ‘And if they do have goals, those goals may not be ‘well-formed’ or clearly thought out. The students need to understand that if you just drift along in life, one day you’ll wake up to something you never wanted! So it’s important to be clear about what you want and the steps you’ll need to take to achieve it, as well as having a contingency plan.’ The Logical Levels model, originally devised by NLP wizard Robert Dilts, is a great way to address an issue holistically, thus ensuring a congruence that enables the person to move forward wholeheartedly. ‘I want to get the students to think about different areas of their lives,’ says Rosie. ‘For example, the process can

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Summer 2008 - rapport

help them to separate behaviours from identity: I may be dyslexic but I’m not a stupid person. It helps them to find out what they really want,

If you just drift along in life, one day you’ll wake up to something you never wanted rather than succumbing to pressure from peers or parents.’ In large groups, pupils may be unwilling to physically walk through the exercise by setting

the Logical Levels cards out on the floor and moving from one to another in the traditional ‘hands on’ NLP way. Too self-conscious to risk looking daft with their mates watching, they can talk each other through the exercise instead; although this reduces the impact of physically doing the exercise, it still works OK. With smaller groups it’s easier to encourage the participants to be more adventurous. Rosie describes such a session in which she worked with just three students and their teacher. The participants were Aidan, 15, Jenny, 16, and Louise, aged 14; their guidance teacher, Lesley, joined in too. All the participants were asked to write down 20 goals for life and choose one to work on during the session. Lesley went first in walking along the Logical Levels, set out as steps on the floor, coached by Rosie. This demonstration prompted Aidan to volunteer to go next, and insights emerged as his fellow-student Jenny guided him through the process. ‘Aidan began with the stated aim: “To motivate myself to work hard to pass my Higher exams,”’ recalls Rosie; ‘but he was able to refine his outcome by identifying his home as being the crucial place in which he needed motivating; he was also able to see his outcome as a step on his path to university, which gave him a larger purpose to work towards.’ Things took off when Louise guided Jenny along the Levels. Jenny’s original outcome: ‘To work hard and prepare better for my exams’ was proceeding uneventfully until she reached the Identity Level, at which there was a physiology shift as ‘her head went down and she sort of sagged a bit.’ Spotting this shift, Rosie suggested some confidence coaching, an offer eagerly accepted by Jenny! With Louise continuing as coach under

Rapport Summer 2008  

Rapport issue 12, Summer 2008

Rapport Summer 2008  

Rapport issue 12, Summer 2008