When the Questions Don’t Appear to Work
Reasons Why the TPM “Questions” May Appear Not to Work.
My dad used to say to me, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” In other words, if it is working then leave it alone. However, there are a few people who have struggled with some of the questions being used in the new TPM process and have suggested that we “fix” them. This has especially been true about the second question in the EMOTION Box: “What comes to mind as you focus on what you are feeling?” (Be sure and read the articles that give expanded information on this question as well as the articles written about association).
There are several reasons that the TPM questions may appear to not work (for some people) when applying the TPM process. The first, and most obvious, would be that they are broken, lacking, or inadequate for the task at hand. If this is the case, then the solution is to throw out the questions and create some new ones. (Unfortunately, this has been the solution for some people.) If indeed the questions are broken then they should always produce the same broken outcomes. However, if a percentage of people using the questions are having consistent, positive results, and yet a percentage of facilitators are having difficulty, then the problem is not the tool; but rather, the implementation thereof. If the tool produces a predictable positive outcome for even a portion of the users, then the tool is not the issue.
Two other potential reasons the questions might appear to be lacking has to do with the two people involved in the TPM process: the Mentor and the Mentee. If both have a good working understanding of the process and the purpose and intention of the questions, then the session will probably move along smoothly with a high level of success. However, if both are lacking in knowledge, skill and understanding, not only might the questions appear to be “broken”, the entire process may be questioned. If the facilitating mentor is lacking in skill, knowledge, and understanding, but yet the mentee is well versed, and equipped, the session will probably proceed smoothly.
A well equipped mentee can have a successful ministry session even if the facilitator is clueless.The questions will work even if the facilitator is asking them at the wrong time and incorrectly, because the mentee will self-correct. If you were to work with me (Ed Smith) and completely run off course with the questions and bounce all around in the process, we would still have a successful session because I know what to do, where to go, and what needs to happen. I would probably tune you out for the most part and follow proper TPM protocol because I know it well and understand what should be occurring.
However, if a mentee has no knowledge of the process or understanding of the purpose and intent of the questions being asked, things could turn out very differently. If the mentee is lacking in knowledge and understanding of the process and questions, the session may feel cumbersome – even if the facilitator is well equipped. The questions may appear redundant, cumbersome, and even confusing if the TPM process has not been thoroughly explained to the mentee. Here we see the vital importance of being well-equipped as facilitators; but even more so, that we train and equip the mentee for the journey. Much more can be accomplished with a well-trained mentee and a poorly-equipped facilitator, than can be accomplished with a well-trained facilitator and a poorly equipped mentee.
The Question Believed to be Most Broken
One of the areas where both facilitators and mentees have had difficulty, is in understanding the purpose and intent of the second question in the EMOTION Box. When the person is in the EMOTION Box and if he is connected to and focusing upon what he is feeling, a memory should come to his mind. However, if it is assumed that the mentee need go looking for a memory, then the second question is totally inadequate for communicating this assumption. Here is where the facilitator and mentee need to understand the process of association and how God has designed the mind to work. Unless the person is choosing to hinder association, he should remember something almost immediately when focused upon what he is feeling. If this does not occur, then something is wrong. This is the purpose of the question, to determine if there is something hindering the natural and expected process of association from occurring. The purpose is not to tell the person to go looking for a time and place where he may have felt what he is feeling before.
In TPM a person never needs to be sent looking for a memory or ever encouraged to even try to remember. When association is unhindered it requires no thought or effort to connect to a memory related to what is being felt. When a person finds himself struggling to remember, it is because he is doing something to keep a memory from coming to mind. We identify this behavior as a SOLUTION. This is the purpose of the second EMOTION Box question; to identify whether the person is doing anything that might be hindering association from occurring.
If the facilitator asks, “As you focus on what you are feeling, what comes to your mind?” and the person says things such as, “Nothing, it is all blank” or “I am trying to remember, but nothing is coming to my mind,” or “All I can think about is what my husband said to me last night….” then the question is working fine and is doing exactly what it was designed to do.