Joane, How did you come up with the SleepTalk® Process?

My personal story will answer this question! In 1966 my first born, Michelle, was everything I had ever wanted. She seemed well and gurgled happily like most babies do. When her sister arrived 13 months later, I started to realise that Michelle had not hit the milestones that her sister passed with ease, and she was becoming agitated, frustrated and angry about her limitations. She was learning from her younger sister’s development rather than leading the way.

My heart skipped a beat the day it dawned on me that there was something wrong with my firstborn. My dear baby girl was increasingly upset and I didn’t know what on earth to do about it. I was gripped with guilt and fear.

So that’s where my journey started. I consulted professionals, doctors, psychologists and educationists. The overwhelming feedback was that there was something wrong with ME: I was not parenting her effectively. I was inflamed, outraged and stigmatised. I was doing my best, for goodness’ sake, but I was dismissed with little to no support.

I’ll always remember what the doctors told me – one said there was nothing going on that good parenting couldn’t fix; another doctor proclaimed that if she grew up to be functional, the best she could hope to achieve was to be a dishwasher and even then, she wouldn’t be much good at that. I was devastated by their comments and the disturbing ‘life sentence’ these doctors had imposed on Michelle. I knew in my gut that their assessments were wrong but I didn’t know where to go for help. Young Michelle’s fine motor skills were clumsy and she lacked the ability to express herself clearly, so she remained angry, agitated, sad, aggressive, and very difficult to manage.

Sadly this all placed a lot of strain on my marriage as her father failed to cope with the demands of this little girl, and within five years we had separated. Now I had the complications of divorce, sole-parenting, and a challenging situation with Michelle’s father, and was left to face this situation alone.

Michelle had been assigned to a new school and by a stroke of good fortune the local authorities had lost all the papers relating to her past so she was admitted to this school with a clean slate. There she underwent a new assessment by an independent educational psychologist, who concluded that my treasured baby had cerebral palsy, very likely caused by the birth process; and dyspraxia; was dyslexic; and had an emotional and intellectual IQ of around 45. I was exonerated, but it had cost me many years of heartache and agony and great financial strain as I’d spent a huge amount of money seeking answers to her problems.

When I met Jim Goulding, my second husband, he and I embarked on a journey of exploration together to try and work out how we could reach and help heal little Michelle’s battered heart and soul. I realised that no matter how much I loved her and how much Jim adopted her as his own, she was still left with this feeling of not quite belonging, of being inadequate, sad, lost, and annoyed at the world because of her disability.

Jim was a Clinical Hypnotherapist and his curiosity about how the unconscious mind worked was infectious. It was the mid to late 70s and together we explored the power of the unconscious and how the unconscious registers our experiences. We were fascinated by reports that patients under anaesthetic could recall the conversations their surgeons were having during surgery, a phenomenon that is still little understood or explored. And we started to understand that children absorbed everything they heard, regardless of their conscious beliefs – they had no way of defending themselves against stray comments or unintended slights. Their unconscious was registering everything that had ever happened.

The turning point in our understanding came when we were driving past an empty paddock one day with Michelle in the back of the car and as we did, she became very excited. We couldn’t work out why she was so enthusiastic. It was an empty paddock, after all! Later that evening when we reflected on it, we realised that just a few weeks before there had been a big, bright and colourful circus on that same spot, and our intellectually challenged daughter had accessed a memory that had been stored in her unconscious at the moment that she saw the paddock, and had tried to talk about what she was remembering. Michelle’s speech was very limited but we realised that her unconscious knew more than we had recognised. And we were humbled.

So that was when I began to develop the Process – because I refused to believe that there was no help for Michelle and started to ask, “what if?” I rejected the negative suggestions of the professionals as I planned and investigated alternatives. I activated the oldest law of the mind “IF YOU CAN IMAGINE IT… YOU CAN BECOME IT.” The process we developed as a result was made possible because my need was so great, my determination was mighty, and I had wonderful help from two mentors.

One was Michelle’s stepfather, my late husband Jim, who believed passionately in the power of the mind and its creative mechanism. The other was Emile Coué, the author of a slim little book simply called How to Practise Suggestion and Autosuggestion.

The realisation that it might be possible for my dreams to come true was one of the most profound experiences of my life. Dreams and imagination are the first steps towards realisation of any outcome.

The procedure that we now call the Goulding SleepTalk® Process was so simple yet so dynamic that it changed our entire world. Yes, we made mistakes and sometimes became fearful of failure, but as we learned from the mistakes and refined the procedure, we were rewarded with a miracle.

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