The Pattern of Things – An Intro to ‘Generative Healing’

The,lonely,tree, ,vector,illustrationSome (many) years ago, when I was in training for the work I do today, a guest trainer named Richard Bandler (of NLP fame) was working with my group of ‘therapists-in-training.’  And I vividly recall him telling us the following story:

Richard had met a man who came to him for therapy – with the question “How can I help you?” The man quickly responded, “I’m not going to tell you” – as if setting up a classic passive-aggressive encounter. Richard, without missing a beat, responded, “OK, tell you what, how about you go home and completely make up a problem that has nothing to do with the one you want to keep from me, come back in a week, and we’ll work with that one.” “OK Doc”, the man replied, and in a week did return with a completely made-up situation – which they then spent some time working on. After a handful of sessions, Richard casually asked, “By the way, how are you doing with that problem you didn’t want to share with me.” He replied, “Oh, that one, it completely went away a few weeks ago.”

Richard then asked our group of trainees, “What happened here?” Some of us came up with ideas we already knew were inadequate. We knew that Richard was almost psychopathically intelligent, so we waited for him to share.

First, he reiterated the initial encounter with his new client and the fellow’s agreement to “completely make up” a problem for Richard. The guy knew that the details of the new problem were ‘completely different’, but unconsciously the pattern was the same. Richard shared with us that most effective therapy deals not so much with the details of the problem but with changing the pattern(s) of the problem. In the made-up problem, unconsciously, the patterns of the original problem showed up for the therapist. And with the unconscious congruence present, the original problem was healed as well.

Richard then gave us a name for this phenomenon, calling it “Generative healing.”


The outcomes of this awareness are many. Here are just a few examples off the top of my head.

1) It reveals much of what takes place in religious practice (Christian and elsewise). For me, the power of ‘belief’ is more the (spiritual) pattern of what we do, not just the details of what we think or say. I find that after a time of prayer, a service of worship, or after the Episcopal Eucharist or Roman Catholic Mass, I find myself wanting to exclaim, “Now I know who I am.”

1b) Another way to say it (for me) is the patterns of religious practice (or presence in spiritual places) don’t get me to heaven, they bring heaven to me here.

2) This elucidates many of the patterns used in hypnotherapy.

3) Maybe someday I’ll share how I was healed of hundreds of plantar warts covering the soles of both feet.

3) In a very different frame of reference, it helps understand the ancient patterns of sorcery as well as some of the prohibitions against it.

4) It’s not unusual for my clients to become aware of changes and/or healing in another area than the one we’ve been working on. Remember Richard’s teaching, most effective therapy involves pattern changes rather than just thing changes.

Next month
I plan to write about Burning Man, that annual counter-culture (my term) gathering in the Nevada desert, which this year reportedly brought 73,000 folks together. I’ve not attended, but my son Michael is a long-time “Burner” (16 years!) – and I look forward to hearing from him about his nine days plus a couple more due to the rain and mud that imprisoned them.
In light of what I’ve written in this month’s Newsletter, I’ll explore the mythic patterns that I see, especially in light of the patterns of the late Joseph Campbell’s “Hero of a Thousand Faces.” And yes, this year, I’ve heard some of the rich and over-entitled showed up, and their private jets and fancy RV’s were also encaptured by the mud and mythic dyslocation. As I sometimes will put things, the ‘gods of the desert in more ways than one were having a party.’ As the world is changing and ever-evolving.

As ever, this observer leaves filled with more hope than despair.

And as I usually conclude each Newsletter – Pay Attention!

BTW, Michael publishes this Newsletter for me, therefore this month it’s late, waiting for him to come home from Burning Man (to Oakland and his cats).?