Interview with Rachel Hott, Ph.D.
Rachel Hott, Ph.D., is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the NLP Center of New York. She is an NLP trainer, as well as a therapist in private practice. Noneuclidean Cafe met with Dr. Hott during lunch of a NLP Master Practitioner training at the NLP Center.
Non-Euclidean Cafe (NC): How did you first get into NLP?
Dr. Rachel Hott (RH): I was assisting Dr. Martha Davis, a non-verbal communication researcher. I saw her copy of Frogs into Princes and liked the cover. [Editor: Frogs into Princes, by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, was one of the first books on NLP.] I had done my MA in Dance Movement Therapy, and there was an emphasis on Jungian archetypes. The cover of Frogs into Princes made me think of fairy tales, so I was attracted to the book. When I read it, I liked the ideas of NLP.
NC: And you continued to pursue training in NLP?
RH: I did a three day workshop on NLP. I was working at a halfway house at the time, so I used the NLP I had learned there. And then a year later, I took David Gordon's workshop on metaphor.
NC: And then you did your Practitioner, Master Practitioner and Trainer's training with Anne Linden?
RH: Yes. With Anne Linden and Frank Staas. Robert Dilts and David Gordon also presented there. I fast-tracked my Trainer's Training, so I was assisting at both Practitioner and Master Practitioner weekends every month for two years.
NC: How were you incorporating that into your work life?
RH: At that time, I was what was called a coder for AMA, the American Management Association, Institute of Management Competence, based on Rick Boyatz's book, The Competent Manager. I observed and rated people on 18 verbal and non-verbal management competencies. I heard that AMA was going to do an NLP course, so I lined myself up to teach that. I think they taught it under the title "Building Better Work Relations." I did business training and consulting from '87 to '97.
NC: And at the same time, you were creating the NLP Center of New York.
RH: Yes, Steve [Editor: Steven Leeds, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the NLP Center of New York, and Rachel's husband.] and I founded the NLP Center in 1986.
NC: I know some of our readers are at a point in their careers where they are starting their own teaching and coaching or therapy practices. Any suggestions?
RH: The standard ones. Networking, making use of free presentations, getting references from clients. Now, of course, making use of the internet. It's easier if you have a niche and know your niche. So from the marketing side, the question to ask yourself is how does a person make it into the room? How do you translate "clicking on a link" into "commitment"?
NC: What was the biggest challenge to starting the NLP Center?
RH: I wanted to be around with the kids. I was raising kids and a business at the same time. So the balance between those. And then, as the kids got older, I went back to school. So it was balancing school and business. Now, I'm through with school, and the kids are older.
NC: You mentioned school. What is your Ph.D. in?
RH: Clinical psychology.
NC: It seems you shifted your emphasis away from business applications to a more therapeutic setting.
RH: Yes. I still do business training and consulting when it comes up, but it's not where I put my focus. I realized my mission was to help people find the key within, to unlock their potential. I find I can do that better in a therapeutic setting than in a business setting.
NC: When you are doing therapy, what is important to you?
RH: Acceptance of self. That patients move more and more into appreciation and love for who they are.
NC: Interesting. So if someone came to you to give up smoking...
RH: No. If a patient is looking to give up smoking, make some one-time change, then I focus on the positive intention behind the behavior. How can the patient give up the unwanted behavior and still maintain the positive intention behind the behavior? If a patient comes for something more generalized--depression, anxiety--that is where I look for the movement towards self-love coming through.
NC: Ah, got it. You have both an NLP background and an academic background in psychology. Do you find any tension between the two?
RH: The focus in the academic environment is on research-based findings, and the perception of NLP there is sometimes that it doesn't provide enough research-based evidence. Now, NLP is not opposed to research findings, but it does take a more experience-based approach. NLP is informed by Cognitive-Behavioral and Humanistic schools, which are the basis for much of what is taught in an academic environment, combined with Ericksonian hypnosis. And NLP adds an artistic, or aesthetic element to the mix. Like the anecdote of the plumber who is paid thousands of dollars just for tapping on a pipe, because he knew where to tap. For example, the Cognitive-Behavioral approach to dealing with compulsions is to overload them. The NLP technique for dealing with compulsions does the same basic thing, but because NLP makes use of submodalities, it adds speed, having the person speed up their representation of the compulsion to add to the overloading.
NC: That's interesting. Any difference in terms of how patients are looked at?
RH: In my academic psychology training there was a lot more interpretation. You observed and labeled. In NLP, the focus is on withholding judgment, staying sensory based. The Ph.D. training focused more on taking the patient's history, looking at their childhood. And then coming up with a treatment strategy. It was a little more hard-edged. NLP will bring in logical levels, look at the person's identity. The academic training did not have a presupposition of positive intention.
NC: Any other points of difference?
RH: Well, the academic training I had didn't include hypnosis. Which is interesting, as that is something that has had a lot of research done on it.
NC: To change direction, you and Steve [Leeds] did a radio show this summer.
RH: Yes, we did a radio show called Hott Leeds for Change
NC: And the focus was NLP?
RH: In general, though not exclusively. For instance, we had my mother on for an interview one week--she's a sex therapist. But in general, we interviewed people from the NLP world. Robert Dilts, David Gordon. Steve Andreas. Stephen Gilligan. It was a lot of fun.
NC: Who was the worst interview?
RH: [raised eyebrow]
NC: Any further thoughts on being in NLP?
RH: One interesting thing I get asked by students is whether I ever get mad, or depressed. Or people will wonder about my kids. What's it like having NLP people as parents? The presupposition is, "If you are an NLP trainer you are expected to become Superman." From my perspective, it's more that you become truly working towards being a flexible agent of feelings and thoughts, processes and behavior. It is more about this, than a model of perfection.
NC: Rachel, thank you very much for your time.
RH: Thank you.
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