I am often asked: Can the Lefkoe Belief Process (LBP) be used to help children eliminate beliefs?

My answer is that it depends on the child: Is the child able to deal with the abstractions of the process?  If the child can, then the LBP should work.  One trick is to simplify some of the steps and use language that can be understood by a younger child.  I did that when we did our study with incarcerated offenders and the LBP was effective with teens as young as 14 to 15 years old.  Since then Shelly has used the LBP with several children 12 or 13 years old, who presented a wide variety of problems including ADD and ADHD.

The very youngest child who was ever successful with the LBP was my daughter Blake when she was only six years old.  I am going to summarize my conversation with her at that time because you will see how easy it can be to use the LBP with young children. (By the way, you’ll see from this example how easy it can be to use the LBP with adults when you know the belief and the source of the belief.)

On many occasions, Shelly and I had taken Blake to fairs and shows where there were hundreds of people and she usually enjoyed herself at these events. One Saturday we took her to a school that was having games, face painting, and a lot of other activities for kids. We had been inside only a few minutes when Blake screamed and exclaimed, “I’m scared! I want to leave!”

“What’s wrong?” we asked her.

“I don’t know. I’m just scared. I want to leave,” she repeated.

We tried to find out what was scaring her, but she didn’t know. The closest she could come to an answer was that there were a lot of people there. I reminded her that she had never before been afraid of crowds. What was it about this crowd that was so scary? She didn’t know. When we realized that the fear wasn’t going away, we left.

When we got home I sat down with Blake and asked, “Do you remember that Mommy and Daddy talk about the work we do with people in our sessions? How we help them with things that bother them in their lives?”


“Would you like me to try to help you figure out what is scaring you? You’ve never been scared of crowds before.”

“Okay,” she said solemnly.

I started to help her identify the belief. Blake named it almost immediately. “Crowds are dangerous.”

“Okay, what happened that gave you that idea?”

She didn’t pause even for a minute. “Remember when we went to the Italian street fair? Remember the lady who burned me with the cigarette?”

I certainly did remember. The fair had been mobbed; we could barely walk. We had been there for only a few minutes when Blake had screamed in pain. A woman had walked by her, swinging a lighted cigarette in her hand, and had hit Blake’s arm with it. The woman then turned around, yelled at Blake, “Watch where you’re going!” and walked away. Fortunately the burn wasn’t bad and we had stayed for another couple of hours.

“So did you decide crowds are dangerous based on your experience at that fair?”


“I can see why you decided that. It made a lot of sense to conclude that. A lot of people would have said the same thing, honey. Now we’re going to play a little game. What else could explain what happened to you other than what you said? It really could be that crowds are dangerous. But what else would explain what happened?”

She wasn’t sure what I meant, so I said, “For example, that fair was dangerous, but maybe not all other fairs will be dangerous.”

She got into the spirit of the game. I gave one interpretation, then she gave one:

* That woman didn’t care if she hurt you, but other women would.

* People carrying lighted cigarettes can hurt me; people without cigarettes won’t.

* That person wasn’t careful with her cigarette, but most people would be.

* I’ll get hurt at some crowded places, not others.

* The crowd at that fair was dangerous; other crowds wouldn’t be.

* I’ll get hurt at fairs, but not other crowded places.

* People who are not careful with lighted cigarettes are dangerous, not crowds.

Blake was having fun with the alternative interpretations part of the LBP.

“Okay, honey,” I said, “can you see that it made sense for you to conclude when you got burned that crowds are dangerous, but that there are a lot of other explanations for what happened?”

She understood what I was saying. She nodded.

I looked directly into her eyes and asked, “Didn’t it seem, at the fair, right after you got burned, that you saw right in front of you that crowds are dangerous and that you’ll get hurt?”

“Yes, that’s what I saw.”

“Is it clear now, honey, that you didn’t see that, you only imagined that? You did see one woman burn you, but you never saw with your eyes that all crowds are dangerous. Did you?”

“I know what you mean, Daddy, I didn’t see it. I only thought it.”

I had hoped the LBP would work with Blake, but despite her ability to deal with abstractions that she had shown in many conversations we had had previously, I still wasn’t sure she’d be able to do the LBP.  But she had. This was the first time I had worked with a really young child and she had used the LBP to eliminate a belief that could have negatively impacted the rest of her life.  I was really excited about the possibilities, but first I had to finish with Blake.

“Do you still believe that crowds are dangerous?

“No,” she said, smiling.

“Could you imagine being in a crowd that wasn’t dangerous?”

“Yes, I could, daddy.”

P.S.  The next time we went to a fair Blake experienced no fear and had a great time.

Using the LBP with children won’t always work, but you have nothing to lose if you try.  And if you succeed, you’ll be saving the child from a lifetime of fear, anxiety, etc.

Please share below any comments you have on using the LBP with children.

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copyright © 2010 Morty Lefkoe