When working with clients to help them change their lives it is important to understand the impact of the behavioural shift on the rest of their lives. Conducting an Ecology Check will enable the practitioner to identify what the change really means to their client and also to see if there are any issues that would stop it from being effective.
Since the whole of human behaviour is a sequence of cause and effect it is often necessary to evaluate the exact impact on an individual of a particular behaviour. If you work under the assumption that every behaviour has a positive intent (which is one of the core presuppositions of NLP) then what initially appears to be a self-destructive behaviour does, at its roots, have an upside that may be obscured to the casual observer.
The connected nature of human behaviour cannot be stressed enough and what happens to one part of a person happens to the whole person, if you pick up one end of a stick you naturally pick up the other end.
What to Ask
Identifying the ecological soundness of a change can be challenging as often the client won’t consciously know what their secondary gain is and so it is down to the practitioner to nudge the client in the right direction. Some typical questions to ask include:
- Who else will be affected by this change?
- What are the benefits of staying the same?
- Who will suffer/benefit from the change?
- What impact will this change have on your health/wealth/work/family etc?
Remember an Ecology Check is not an exact science and is often more a case of fishing for clues and your job is to make sure that the client is happy with the impact the change will have on the rest of their life and to raise their awareness as to how any change can have a knock-on effect.