Table of Contents
Annegret Hallanzy (Excerpt from: “NLP Ecologie Redefiniert”)
Translated by Marcel Marien. Edited by Martyn Carruthers
We recommend that you research the relationship consequences of trainings
before attending them – especially if hypnosis and belief change are themes of the training. Nice words and good intentions cannot prevent unpleasant consequences.
Continued at: Part 2 – NLP Strategy Techniques
NLP Ecology Redefined by Annegret Hallanzy
Although few NLP techniques fulfill the requirements for comprehensive change, they may achieve what is called second order learning in Brief Therapy, which is understood to be a therapy that is limited to anywhere from 10 minutes to 10 sessions. Here, Brief Therapy is considered to be synonymous with coaching.
Since many coaching sessions have emotional problems at their root, they are often handled in the same manner as in brief therapy. We differentiate between coaching and in-depth life-change counseling or psychotherapy.
The brief descriptions of these techniques are included for: 1, the level of coaching directly reflects the expertise in both goal setting and the application of NLP techniques. 2, text under Ecology describe some limitations of NLP methods.
Since few trainers teach NLP techniques in the same way, the Brief Descriptions are meant to be a foundation for Ecology discussions and not to teach techniques.
(Annegret often designates a coach as “B”, and a client as “A”. K refers to feelings; K+ to pleasant feelings and K- to unpleasant feelings. VAKOG means “all senses” and “Ad” refers to unspoken self-talk. Vr and Vc refer to remembered and created visualizations.)
NLP Change Personal History
Application: Client’s goal. ”I want to have some inner skill or capability every time I begin to feel unpleasant feelings (K-) for this and only this situation in my life.”Brief description: The negative feeling (K-) is anchored. A client defines the desired (K+) resource qualities that he would like to have available in the situation that causes K-. The client is brought into the success bringing situation via VAKOG and all the good feelings associated with it are stack-anchored. Using the negative anchor, the client searches for the triggering event. The now reinforced negative feelings are coupled with the resource anchor K+ until the client has an emotional state that enables him to now react differently than before in the respective situation.
Ecology – A question arises, why a client has not already activated his own resources for the problem context? Why must a coach remind clients that they already have resources? This is as absurd as a commonly asked question in NLP : „What do you need?” If clients knew the answer, clients could solve the problems!
The crucial point in generating resources is not in searching for already experienced resources, but in using small talk spiked with paradoxical humor and encouragement. This induces a client with such good feelings that a client can allow himself multiple good states on his own, despite knowing exactly what topic is going to come up. The relationship between the coach and client becomes the most significant resource for mastering past failures with a significant or important other. As coaches become resources, clients can experience their pasts differently.
After a coach uses small talk to establish a strong anchor for K+ qualities and has finished a VAKOG search for a client’s desired capabilities, the ecology-check comes in. „Do you now want to explore what this negative feeling is all about?” If a client congruently affirms, the coach knows that the client has enough resources (through his connection with the coach) to reframe the original situation and handle it adeptly in the present. If a client is incongruent in spite of the resources gained through the coach, this suggests either a case of K+ with recurring or chronic traumatic content, or the coach has not yet generated and anchored sufficient resources for the client.
NLP Phobia Technique
Application: Client’s goal: „I want to be able to do everything that is not possible now, because trigger X sets off a phobia”.
Brief description – A panic reaction is anchored and in a dissociated state the past is searched for the triggering event. In a well anchored double dissociation (if necessary take on a third dissociation) alienate the submodalities of the triggering event. While continuing to alter the submodalities, the client then associates into a fast rewind. If the trigger event has been suppressed until this NLP session, it becomes necessary to heal the experienced relationship. While in first dissociation, the film is stopped at the worst moment and the younger self is sent a good fairy or mentor to comfort this younger self and bring him to safety. The client then „takes these two into his arms” and assimilates them.
Ecology – Astonishingly often, a client is not pleased about being able do things he could not do because of the phobia. To find a client’s secondary benefits, a coach can investigate the client’s unconscious objections.
Often a phobia symbolizes repressed capabilities. Angst themes with parents that were not totally worked out are internally split off and projected as childlike parts onto a trigger (e.g. insect, bird and animal phobias). Apart from that, triggering events are not only moments of fright, but often situations of loss. This points to other relationship issues that indirectly show up as secondary gains.
The NLP phobia technique should not be applied if secondary benefits are involved, as is usually the case! Should this be ignored, additional symptoms often appear so that the phobia does not disappear completely or permanently.
If a client’s objections are resolved, a phobia disappears by itself and forever! As people can resolve phobias on their own, is it necessary to teach a phobia technique to stop panicking over some trigger?
Application – Client’s goal: „I want to change a certain annoying behavior.”Brief description – After testing, the persistence of the annoyance with numerous metaphors and reframes, a coach persuades a client that the part responsible for maintaining the behavior has good intentions. The client then approaches the unconscious part and establishes involuntary signals kinesthetic are best for yes and no. Client A then asks this part, „Are you ready to tell me your good intention?”. If the answer is, “Yes”, the intention is directly requested and checked through signals. „Do I know all, now?” Is the answer is yes-no, ask „Would you be willing to have a conference with the creative part to give you ideas as to how you can reach the same result but in a different way? You can decide, whether you like this new idea better than the old behavior.”
After alternatives have been gained in this manner, again using general terms, ask inwardly, if there are any other parts that would mind if these alternatives could be tested over a certain period. These objections are also creatively handled.
Ecology – It is vital that a client not only wants to get rid of the annoying behavior, but also congruently wants alternatives. Test for this congruent wish for alternatives (without fear of a symptom shift) after metaphorically reconciling the good intentions. If a client congruently confirms wanting alternatives, this is a sign that the subsequent signaling agreement will work.
6-Step-Reframing should not be applied if the disturbing behavior is emotionally loaded, as in compulsive behavior, semi-compulsive addictions or threatening illnesses. 6-step reframing is more appropriate for mistakenly acquired habits than for compulsions. This should be checked in the beginning, to ensure that objections at the end remain manageable.
The concept of a creative part does not foster integration – rather it supports the notion of independent competencies. When I teach 6-Step-Reframing, I let the addressed part symbolize a younger, misunderstood self, who can present his intention to the other personality parts.
Application (never!) – Client’s goal: “I want to have the resources of two conflicting parts available at the same time.”Brief description – Two parts that are in conflict with each other are dissociated onto both hands. The coach asks each part about its intention. Both parts either co-operatively negotiate their intentions into an agreement or the coach rephrases their intentions until the parts reach accord in a more abstract value. Then the parts are melted together, either symbolically or with the help of anchors.
Ecology – If a coach does not accept that the client wants to be rid of the conflict, but also asks the client, “Do you really want all the resources connected with each of these parts simultaneously”, a client will never congruently say yes. During my own NLP practitioner training I wondered: „Why don’t the personality parts get the idea themselves that they could mutually assist each other or want the same thing?” As the saying goes, divide and conquer. Some third part could be a laughing winner.
There are secondary benefits in every conflict. These benefits will not appear if not requested. Unconscious objections always show up, if after finding the common goal or intention, a coach asserts without doubt, „Marvelous, now the two parts can collaborate! What great potential arises if both work in accord for your value X!
The third part organizing this conflict loses its secondary benefit, if, as is common in NLP, the parts are integrated without checking. In the long term this causes either diffuse symptoms or physical illness. Since the direct experience of integration was such a relief, clients do not connect these after-effects with the coach’s conflict negotiation. I find Robert Dilts’ „Einstein-Integration” to be more ecological. Dilts confronts the convictions on a clear abstract level and then uses a meta-position to reframe them on a higher logical level.
When one works with personality parts, the objecting third part should be the centre of attention! Making first contact with this part, followed by a little trance to reconcile the sub-selves, often gives as much relief as explicitly assimilating the parts. (This usually occurs anyway, when a client puts his hands together without prompting)! Just as the third part raised objections to the co-operative collaboration between the first and second part in reaching a joint value, a fourth part may protest against the contention of the third part, and so on.
In summary: undesirable and hardly recognizable delayed reactions can result when the resources of two parts are joined together without attention to the existing secondary benefit of this conflict. Conventional NLP Conflict Reframing is therefore not ecological. „Conflict Reframing with the third/fifth part” can be performed, if a client redefines his wish as „I want to know the benefits of this conflict”.
NLP Deep Trance Reframing
Application – Client’s goal: „While I am mentally elsewhere, I want the coach to directly invite the part that maintains my annoying behavior to a conference on generating alternatives.”Brief description – Applying the principles of 6-Step-Reframing, a coach uses signals to converse with the unconscious part in a conference, without a client realizing it.
Ecology – A client has a right to know what deep trance is and what the conference is about. Partly because of learning effects or because the results can be tested using unconscious signals, a client often prefers to personally confer with the inner sub-self as in 6-Step-Reframing.
Regardless, this technique is outstanding for inviting different parts to a conference dedicated to deciding how to advise a client in harmonically and/or healthfully mastering a difficult phase of life. A coach can ask for a client’s consent to do deep trance-work, if the disturbing issue exists as a general orientation rather than as a specific habit.
NLP Reframing through Metaphors
Application – A client is either already in trance as a result of „goal questions” or wants to reconcile with a sub-self within 3-10 minutes.Brief description – If one can use the client’s meta-programs and problem structure to present new content, one can use small talk to weave in stories about other clients and to delve into client A’s questions concerning goals or possible solutions with the coach observing a client’s physiology to gather information about what fits for that client.
Ecology – no objections
Application – Client’s goal: „I want to feel good about going after goal X.”
Brief description – Place three paper anchors to form a time line on the floor, one standing for the goal that a client congruently wants to achieve, one for the present and somewhere way in the back one for procreation. The coach then asks: „What keeps you from achieving your goal? Or, “Why haven’t you reached your goal yet”? Spontaneously K+ sets in. On the timeline representing the past, in an associated K+ state go back to the original experience of failure. After expressing the belief that was formed as a result of this experience of failure, a client moves to a meta-position outside the time line.
Using role models, including the client himself, he beams resources to all the important others until they feel good (an associated state check is suitable). In this fantasy scene the younger client is now treated differently. A client steps into the fantasy, K’ immediately sets in, accompanied by a new belief that is anchored. With this feeling of K’, client A walks into the present and one step into the future.
Ecology – Preparation is necessary to find a congruent goal or even a congruent goal direction. In many cases the goal will become irrelevant once it is systematically questioned. If, as is unfortunately often the case, proper goal setting is not done before re-imprinting, the following happens: Although Re-imprinting resolves unpleasant feelings, the negative consequences that could have been discovered by stepping beyond the supposed desirable goal on the time line go unnoticed. Thus the client gets even worse. Anyone encouraging someone to pursue a goal in a direction the person does not wish to follow, will find objections in the form of fuzzy consequences.
Before reviewing the past, coach B should test, „Is this K- that you are now feeling, (the unpleasant feeling that keeps a client from taking that first step into the goal) something that comes and goes or is it something you have often, perhaps even as a continuous feeling in life?” In the latter case, Reimprinting should not be applied. Core or meta-beliefs cannot be completely resolved in this way – they are more than just emotional trauma – they also constitute relationship bonding problems.
Re-imprinting is not intended to reconcile deep-seated bonding problems with significant other people. It is an outstanding method to re-evaluate certain types of failures and deal with them with new feelings. Re-imprinting is best suited for known traumatic failures. In this case, it is not necessary to do an associated walk on the time line. Everything can be done ‘on the screen’.
NLP Future Self
(Aligning logical levels on a timeline – Robert Dilts)
Application – Client’s goal: „I want to progress towards my goal with good feelings.”
Brief description – The technique has two main components: generating future resources on the time line in the target state and aligning the logical levels. Building up the future self, a client walks over the anchors on the floor progressing to and over the preliminary target until he gets himself into the as-if desired target state „Behave as if you already knew that you can do it, that it is possible and worthwhile.” This „future self” can then look back and encourage the present self.
Alignment: a coach lays out anchors across the time line. The client walks over them bringing behavior, capabilities, beliefs and values, identity and transpersonal affiliation with the „mission” in accord.
Ecology – the target state is unspecified and sometimes instills in the client a feeling of irrelevance. The alignment process enhances this artificial nature and further suppresses awareness. The client does not learn to question his goal and remains bonded to (unconscious) assumptions and beliefs.
The long term ineffectiveness of this technique has an advantage: unconscious problem constructions remain, so unpleasant delayed reactions are rare. In summary: generating a goal and with it anchoring a „future self” is harmless resource generation, not in-depth goal setting. For this reason, one should refrain from (pseudo) aligning logical levels.
NLP Time Line (TL), Mentoring and Resonance (Dilts)
Application – Client’s goal: „I want to live through this specific challenging phase of life resourcefully or I want to resourcefully complete a certain project Y”Brief Description – According to Dilts, mentors are models on the identity level. Their presence generates resonance within a client as well as between a client and the mentors. This resource generation done on the future time line and can be supplemented by mentoring. Just as a future self can encourage the self in the here and now, so can imaged future mentors or existing mentor also activate the client’s future self. They can walk beside the timeline, accompanying and encouraging the client.
The Resonance Pattern is an intensive and deep working version of mentoring. Three mentors (almost automatically, one for each representational system appears) are built up to help and encourage a client on his way. They are distributed somewhere around the here and now on the timeline.
From a distant meta-perspective, a client can then be asked: „Do the three mentors have a common underlying message?” The client stands in the present simply listening to the coach play the three individual messages, each time adding the common theme. The client lets the words work on him. The resulting resonance resource is anchored and taken into the future.
Ecology – Time Line mentoring is ecological because a client plans each step. Unfortunately, Dilts offers this and other techniques (with Re-imprinting and the like) to anyone attending his seminars or to any possible client visiting his workshops. He creates an impression that split off sub-selves can be contacted and illnesses cured. (Curing his mother of cancer was an example of a special mentoring relationship!) Why foster unrealistic hopes without clarifying the scope of application for techniques?
On the other hand, if this Resonance Pattern is not used therapeutically, but to assist in mastering a life challenge or to complete a project (that is, if no goal conflict exists) then the systemic collection of mental mentors becomes a fantastic resource that combines well with the previously described Timeline Resource Generation.
NLP Meta Mirror (Dilts)
Application – Client’s goal: „I want a new way of dealing with person X”Brief description – Using chairs as anchors, a client dissociates and describes the problematic relationship loop. A dissociates himself from the sub-self that makes judgments about him while in the loop. This frustrating internal self-judgmental dialog interchanges with the client’s behavior towards person X. The two resources gained through this method are piled onto the same anchor. In a metaposition, the client uses the stacked anchors to future-pace encounters with person X.
Ecology – Dilts’ Meta Mirror is often associated with everything except the above process. It effectively resolves transferences or projections (which are always present in relationship loops).
It is substantial that a client not have any primary inner conflict as how to deal with person X, and not suffer before or after meeting with X as a result. He must congruently desire a change in his dealings with X. This guarantees that no attempt is made to transform deep personal bonds (i.e. release symbiotic relationships or unredeemed responsibilities of co-dependencies or settle entanglement over new values), for all of which this technique is not appropriate.
NLP Failure into Feedback
Application: Client’s goal: “I want to leave my failure X in [frequently occurring] situation Y”.
Brief description: Unfortunately, this procedure is sparingly described in Dilts´ book, and its potential and efficacy are understated. Failure into Feedback makes use of an eye movement model to dismantle a failure. A coach anchors the eye direction that accesses the representation of a failure that still hinders a client in mastering similar situations.
Next, the coach repeatedly directs the client to look in this direction, and then asks the client to name, individually and sequentially sensory-specific representations. Then the coach asks the client to suspend these representations far to the right and far to the left, into the corresponding eye accessing fields. Sometimes the coach needs to support his leading gestures with auditory anchors, to support the notion that the client places his representations somewhere at his side.
The procedure is continued, until in the original failure-representing direction, client A only sees what is externally visible. This requires great sensitivity, since initially much of the content of the failure is unconscious and suppressed. Principally two different K-’ must be found. One K- is triggered by the original reaction to the unpleasant real-life experience, the other K-, although associated with failure X, stems from earlier unpleasant experiences.
Reconciliation or reframing: once the failure is no longer associated with a simultaneous double K-, the intention of each of the suspended representations can be examined (similar to examining the intention of personality parts). The resulting reconciliation enables A to create an attractive goal-image of situation Y. The goal-image can be enriched with new perceptions from unused channels hinted at by empty eye accessing fields.
Ecology: A central point is that client A congruently wants success in situation Y. If client A is using situation Y as a way to come to terms with the original trauma, then A might not see anything in the problem representing direction, (unless this suppressed representation has been securely suspended somewhere using an “as-if” maneuver) or A sees too many representations simultaneously.
Some people avoid certain eye accessing fields (abnormal eye-patterns), since these people may (in my experience always!) have imprints. For example: “Child, don’t daydream so much!” (later he avoids Vc), or has traumatic memories (later he avoids Vr/Ar) or his inner evaluation is disturbed (he avoids Ad/K) by early oversize responsibilities. “Failure into Feedback” cannot manage such disturbances and is more appropriate for preparing for success!
NLP Timeline Therapy ® (Tad James)
Application – never. Client’s goal: “I want to get rid of feeling X forever”.
Short description – Memories and plans are imagined as a line, above which one mentally floats so that one can view it’s entire length. To rise in one’s imagination above all memories and plans is a powerful state. One can “travel” above past or future and even beyond future into suggested pure light, or far into the past above the timelines of one’s ancestors or past lives to the elements of origin and into even more abstract resources, which may appear beyond a suggested “beginning of creation”.
The states over a far future are utilized to charge concrete goals with motivation and to disassemble fears. In the past, negative feelings and corresponding beliefs are triggered in a sequence: anger, then fear, then sadness. Thus a life-frame is created for a whole chain of situations in which a belief had been confirmed.
This starts with identifying an original situation in which the negative feeling first appeared and the belief was created. Then the emotion is followed back, as if it had already appeared in past generations or in former lives. Then client A mentally travels further back “before the first occurrence of the negative emotion”. With the hypnotic formula “And where is this feeling now (in view of the imminent situation in the timeline of an ancestor or a former life)?” the negative feeling is dissociated. The emerging positive emotion is utilized during a return-flight to reframe all failures that had confirmed the belief.
Ecology – The idea of Tad James’ Timeline Therapy ® seems genius, however it is dangerous in its above described, extremely unecological application. The dangerous aspect is that an emotion is disconnected while a client is in a resourceful state (as in some meditation techniques).
If something like this is set up for lasting effect (generalization over timeline), then a younger self is stripped of possibilities to communicate unused opportunities. However, the integration of such contributions – and thus long-term healing – is possible, following suitably detailed goal-work.
In my own case, several ongoing negative emotions seemed to disappear. Nevertheless, these emotions eventually returned with such fury and in such irrational ways that I wished I had never “charmed them away”.
I later observed a similar effect with clients who either received timeline therapy or in other ways had dissociated from younger selves– as instructed by a coach – by addressing inner parts in more or less the following manner: “Don’t you agree that this emotion does not contribute to pursuing your intention and instead has the opposite effect? Are you willing to let go of that emotion?” If somebody treats children that way, the children withdraw! Any dismissal of emotions increases inner dissociation.
If I cannot feel anger, I cannot perceive that I am allowing my values to be violated. If I don’t feel anxiety, I cannot notice that my values are endangered. If I avoid sadness, I won’t notice that I miss opportunities to live my values. This dissociation is far worse than experiencing unpleasant emotions.
Tad James even deals with guilt by this method, without appearing to consider that guilt indicates conflict. Once the underlying conflict is resolved (see conflict transcript), guilt disappears. If guilt is dissociated, this conflict indicator is lost. Of course, this loss comes as a temporary relief for the client – who pays later with diffuse unpleasant emotions about “my life does not make sense“!
Timeline Therapy® is a hypnotic technique (as is all Tad James’ “therapy” as well as his NLP crash-courses) without clearly defined goals, and let’s not talk about sense. A coach can apply this metaphor of floating above a timeline with congruent goals, which do not need additional motivation.
Besides that, “timeline crashes” may happen if a person has objections to creating a happy future. Some clients associate into past traumatic experiences, although I don’t want to write about this here. I doubt that people who attended speedy and hypnotically taught courses in Timeline Therapy® can recognize or deal with such dangers.
As unecological as Timeline Therapy ® is, the concept of floating over a timeline has been integrated into our deep reaching VoVa changework with emotions. Compared with Tad James’ methods, the VoVa timeline techniques have an advantage that – besides a different attitude that emotions are sensible – no world-view is suggested (e.g. past lives or transfer of emotions across generations). Adult clients can easily understand the floating technique as a metaphor.
NLP Core Transformation (Andreas)
Application – Client’s goal: “I want to get rid of an inner or outer behavior X”
Short Description – This technique is well described by Connirae Andreas, and the description and the seminar presentations correspond (how rare in NLP!), so I will be brief. A non-reconciled part, which maintains an inner or outer behavior, is dissociated into one hand and asked about its intention. The question “What is important about this? [the part’s behavior, and later the part’s intention]” follows this intention into increasing abstraction until the client finds a state that cannot be described. This “Core State” is anchored and maintained, while the intentions are sequentially reframed back to specific behaviors. This process is repeated while the client is associated [with the part]. The Core State can be induced into the timelines of the parents so that it generalizes as life-feeling for the client.
Ecology – As a procedure, Core Transformation is ecological. The Core State, being an overall resource, has lasting stability. However, Core Transformation is presented almost as a path to enlightenment. If the coach is in good rapport with the client, it is possible to elicit unending non-verbal states beyond the Core State. Every question towards abstraction (e.g. “Who are you?” Answer: “X.”; “Who are you being X?” etc.) generates abstract and therefore powerful resource states.
However, resourceful states are not necessarily a sign of spirituality, in terms of integrity. A prerequisite of Core Transformation is that client A can identify and dissociate all inner parts which participate in the inner dialogue. This identification and dissociation is impossible with identity loss or deep inner dissociation (such as emotional disturbances, compulsions and psychosomatic diseases). It makes a difference whether Core Transformation is applied to people who are only curious or if it is used as a reconciliation technique in therapy. I would strongly discourage the latter.
In spite of all generalization tricks, Core States end when questions about sense of life arise as life-challenges. Core Transformations do not manage the root-causes of why personality parts became so independent that they can’t learn from each other (see 6-step reframing) or from mentors. This is why after several months, people re-organizes their problems on other levels – with diffuse parts that are difficult to identify. (A therapist who worked with Core Transformations for years, while teaching it internationally, confirmed this to me.)
Core Transformations is a wonderful, deep reaching reconciliation technique. However it shouldn’t be applied with a claim to change client A’s sense-of-life. Such a claim can only lead to deception and unpleasant relapses.
© Annegret Hallanzy 1994-2018
All rights reserved
Continued at: Part 2 – NLP Strategy Techniques
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