I am an educator as well as a coach and am interested in what it is that brings out the best in the people with whom I work. Over the last few years I have read a great deal of research on the power of beliefs. I am convinced that it is essential that I hold, and communicate to my students or clients that I believe in their ability to learn, to heal, and to grow.
We have to hold and project these beliefs even when, or perhaps, especially when the person we are working with does not hold them. In a recent study it was found that teenagers from economically disadvantaged families were more likely to attend college if their parents, especially their mothers, were optimistic about the teens chances of enrolling in college.
I read once about a teacher who was given a list of student names with numbers ranging from 125 to180 after their names at the beginning of the school year. Believing that she had been given a class of gifted students, she worked hard all year to provide opportunities for these students to do well. At the end of the year she asked for another class of gifted students since they had all performed outstandingly. She was told that the numbers were their locker numbers, not their IQs.
In transpersonal therapy the belief held by the therapist or healer about their client is an important component of the therapy. There is solid research to back this up. Marilyn Schlitz at the Institute of Noetic Sciences is carrying out some interesting research on intentionality, which she defines as the "projection of awareness, with purpose and efficacy, toward some object or outcome." In his review of the research on human interconnectedness, Braud claims that the mental and emotional processes of one person can directly influence the mental or physical processes of another person. Hibbard claims that she experiences "the use of intentionality in psychotherapy as an extremely potent form of spiritual healing." Benor, who began as a skeptic of spiritual healing says "Just holding an intent brings healing energies and spiritual awareness into the therapy."
Elizabeth Targ refers to medical research that demonstrates the powerful positive effects of the belief of the physician in the treatment offered. She also cites Braud and Schlitz' work on distant intentionality which dramatically demonstrates the ability of one person's thoughts to influence the physical state of another person.
She urges medical practitioners to "consciously activate their own images of wellness for each patient with whom they work." In order to help our students or our clients to let go of self-defeating beliefs and to hold life-affirming beliefs, we have to hold those for ourselves as well as about our clients. I use Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which is a powerful process for reducing or eliminating old, unhealthy, negative beliefs and allowing life-affirming beliefs to surface.
Lorna Minewiser, Ph.D has been helping people reduce their stress for more than 15 years. She offers individual and group coaching, workshops, CDs, e-books and Stress Reduction and Relaxation kits. She is available for presentations on the power of beliefs and on Emotional Freedom Techniques. For more information you can reach her at http://www.thestressreductioncoach.com