Psychologies Magazine — In English
THE “SELFTIPI” METHOD
I learned how to overcome my fears
Inhibition in public, uncontrollable anger, phobias, etc… SelfTipi, a new personal development technique, invites us to delve deep into our memory to “deactivate” our negative emotions. Our reporter shares her experience.
By Caroline Desages – Illustrations by Lapin/Valérie Oualid
The SelfTipi Method promises to rid us of our uncontrolled emotions, which often spoil our lives. Tipi is derived from the French, “technique d’identification sensorielle des peurs inconscientes”, which translates as: the technique for sensory identification of unconscious fears. This was the method I was asked to test one morning during an editorial meeting. This, of course, has nothing to do with the few inhibitions or phobias, if you will, that prevent me from flying or speaking in public. I grabbed the opportunity without the slightest hesitation, since I was rather curious to discover this therapy with a funny name. But most of all, I secretly hoped to rid myself of at least one of my mental blocks.
The evening before the first session, I received a call from Aleth Naquet, a psychologist and certified SelfTipi trainer. In order for the work to be efficient, she told me, I first had to identify a precise memory of a moment when the fear I wanted to “deactivate” had manifested itself. Having described to her a couple of my failed attempts at public speaking, we agreed to work with a television broadcast I attended a few months ago. More precisely, the minute when everything turned upside down: as soon as my assistant snapped my microphone into place, I experienced a mild panic attack complete with accelerated pulse, tight throat, and sweaty palms.
The next day I was warmly welcomed by Aleth (and the other five participants) in her apartment in Paris’ 13th District, where the first half-day of training took place. Comfortably seated around the therapist, we listened to her telling us about the origins of this method designed by Luc Nicon, an adult trainer who almost unknowingly became the inventor of Tipi. As he was trying to calm one of his students who was particularly stressed at the moment, Luc Nicon asked him this simple question: “What are you feeling in your body right now?” As the student described his physical sensations, he suddenly relaxed and experienced a sense of peace.
Today, there are hundreds of Tipi trainers operating in France with success rates approaching one-hundred percent. “The Tipi philosophy is based on the fact that we often try to understand our difficulties at an intellectual level, whereas only our senses can lead us to the origin of our fears and a successful resolution”, Aleth summarized.
How does it feel in my body?
Once the theory section was complete, each member of the group (aged between 25 and 45) introduced themselves and shared the issue they were here to work on. Martine was incapable of driving on the motorway; Valerie, a keen climber, was scared of heights; Florence could not handle conflicts and experienced phenomenal rages; Annie was losing patience with her little boy, which lead her to smack him (which she regretted later); and, Jerome, the only male in the group, was unable to keep his cool when stuck in a traffic jam.
The SelfTipi work could now begin. The exercise was as follows: for five minutes, we were asked to close our eyes and relive the triggering incident in our minds while asking ourselves: “How does it feel in my body?” We were instructed not to resist the physical sensations we were going to feel but to simply take note of them and observe their evolution until they transformed and eventually disappeared.
But as far as I was concerned, this was not exactly simple. On my first try, I had trouble remembering the panic I’d felt on the television set. The trainer told me that it was not a matter of trying to remember what I had felt, but to relive this instance as if it were happening all over again. On my second attempt, I could feel the weight of anxiety in my stomach, as my pulse started racing and my palms felt like they were receiving electrical shocks. Gradually, a sensation of heat spread to my throat as it tightened, and then, the sensations quite rapidly rose to the back of my skull and disappeared shortly thereafter. When I opened my eyes, all I could feel was a slight tiredness, which I experienced as a rather pleasant sensation.
You have deactivated it
Afterwards, we talked about what we had just experienced. Jerome instantly felt the rage he experienced when stuck in traffic jams but during his second attempt, he did not feel anything at all. “You have deactivated it”, Aleth assured him. As for me, she believed that, because of my initial hesitations, I needed to repeat the exercise once again. The same went for the other participants who weren’t quite convinced that they achieved a total resolution.
After a short break, I closed my eyes and dove back into the scene. I could distinctively feel the coolness of the microphone and could hear my assistant explain that I would be live on the air in a few minutes. But this time, I felt no weight in my stomach, no tachycardia, and no tightness in my throat. Aleth was adamant that I had rid myself of this inhibition. I was a bit perplexed, but I undeniably felt different (lighter, I would say) than when I had arrived. In addition, thoughts about my upcoming workshop were not causing me as much stress as I had expected.
But I wasn’t the only participant to have this experience. Annie appeared to have deactivated the anger that led her to scream at her little boy and Valerie was thinking of taking up climbing again. As for Florence and Martine, however, the outcome was less positive. They both wondered if they had chosen the right moment to work on.
At 5pm, the session was about to end. After asking us to write up our “Tipi Selfguide”, which recapped the various stages of the method, Aleth scheduled a second session for us in four weeks time. She proposed that we stay in touch over the next month and gave us our homework which was to simply practice using the technique on our other fears.
A few days later, I was about to start speaking during my workshop and found myself feeling much more relaxed than usual. Saying that I was feeling confident would be an exaggeration, but when the time came for me to step up to the podium, I was surprised to find myself speaking calmly and clearly, without the shaking that accompanies all of my public appearances. While my pace was a bit too fast and my voice was not as loud as I would have liked it, I was able to overcome the familar feeling of having run a marathon and didn’t have the usual feelings of failure and shame after the event.
A month later…
During our follow-up session, our trainer made sure that we were able to overcome any and all personal fears on our own. The objective of SelfTipi is to provide the client the key elements to carry on using the method autonomously once their training is over. The session was also the opportunity for all the participants to draw their conclusions after the past month of using SelfTipi.
Jerome had experienced several traffic jams which had not affected his patience, and Annie reported only one conflict with her son (they used to happen on a daily basis). Martine had not yet attempted to drive on the highway, but she had managed to overcome her panic attacks while riding trains. Valerie was no longer afraid of heights and had begun working on her shyness around attractive men. As for Florence, she had not had a single outburst since our last session together.
As for myself, in addition to my newfound confidence when speaking in public, I also recently spent time on an airplane without crushing my husband’s hand or crying at the first sign of turbulence.
To respect their privacy, the participants’ names have been changed.
The Centre ADRES (Activités pour le Développement des Relations en Santé) – Aleth naquet offers Tipi sessions for individuals, SelfTipi courses over two half-days or Tipi Express over one-and-a-half day, as well as Tipi practitioner training. 13-15 Avenue d’Italie, 75013 Paris. Info: 0144245787 and a-naquet.com