Hypnosis and NLP

Changework with NLP Submodalities

Quick Introduction to Changing NLP Submodalities

One of the most useful techniques from NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is changing what are called visual submodalities. For this article we will be doing a simple exploration of how this works.

The technique you’re about to learn is something that I use a lot in the office (The Washington DC Hypnosis Center) when someone comes in with a fear for instance. Although it’s not the only technique we use, it tends to get rid of the emotional ties that are connected to memories (literally, the pictures we see in our heads when we think about something that happened in the past).

Have you ever gotten bad feelings from remembering something?

Now, chances are that if you’re human, you have memories of things in your life that didn’t turn out perfectly. If I ask you right now to think of something really not great that happened to you, some version of sadness, anger, guilt, or another less than positive emotion will probably come up.

This technique works wonders to wipe out those negative feelings from the memory. Once you have learned the lesson that was there for you to learn, there is no need to keep having yourself feel bad. But, for most people, they have no idea how to get rid of that feeling, and are being triggered by that memory — in a sense, they are living at the “effect” of life.

What we want to do is to shift this, so that you can think about whatever happened and instead of having the same reaction, you’ll be able to feel peaceful and in control. Got it? 🙂

The prerequisite to this technique is that you can see a picture, movie, or polaroid of the event, which most people can do well.

A quick and very effective NLP submodality process

  1. View the “problem” image that you don’t like
  2. Change it to black and white
  3. Push it further away from you as if putting it on a movie screen
  4. Now move your awareness a couple steps back, and look at yourself looking at that black and white picture
  5. Make the picture smaller and push it way back, so that it’s about the size of a postage stamp, way off into the distance
  6. Make it translucent or transparent so you can see through it
  7. Turn the picture upside down
  8. Start to fill in that postage stamp picture with your favorite color that makes you feel good
  9. Now see only the solid color that you like in that space, and zoom that forward into the place where the other picture used to be.
  10. Notice how you feel. Try to get back the same feeling you had at Step #1. Rinse and repeat if desired.

That’s It!

I highly encourage you to use this process often. It isn’t in any particular order, but this is the way I tend to use it. Once someone has the process down, they can usually do it very quickly. Have fun!

Hypnosis and NLP

15 NLP Patterns To Change The Way You Think, Feel And Behave

NLP patterns are basically tools. They’re a way of helping us to understand how we experience the world, and more importantly, a way of changing that if it’s not working out so well for us. Here are fifteen of the more common patterns and processes.

1. Backtracking

Check your understanding by repeating back what somebody’s just said using their own words and their tone of voice and their gestures, if appropriate. A great skill for negotiation.


We can experience a memory or an emotional state from the inside (association) or view it like an external observer (disassociation). Both have their uses. If you want to capture a resourceful state, such as confidence, associating yourself to another time when you’ve felt confident will enable you to reproduce those feelings in the present. If you want to put some distance between yourself and an unpleasant memory, then viewing it in a disassociated way will help to remove the emotion.

3. Accessing Cues

An NLP classic! Bodily movements which reveal something of the way in which we tend to think, either visual, auditory or kinaesthetic (feeling). Most famously, this has been associated with eye movement – looking up to the right or left tends to indicate that someone is seeing something in their mind – but voice tone, breathing patterns and bodily posture can give the same clues. A melodic, mid-paced, rhythmic voice tone, for instance, is often associated with an auditory style of thinking. Once you’ve got to grips with accessing cues, you can increase rapport with other people by matching their preferred style of thinking – “I see what you mean/hear what you say/know just how you feel” etc.

4. Meta Model

We all tend to speak in shorthand – the Meta Model is a way of finding out what’s not being said. For example, somebody might say “I never get a fair break”. The Meta Model response would be to ask for specific examples, pin down exactly what the person means by “a fair break”, and perhaps find times when they have been treated fairly. Politely and sensitively, of course!

5. Milton Model

The opposite of the Meta Model. If that model is ruthless in its pursuit of specifics, the Milton Model is deliberately and artfully vague. This allows the listener the freedom to interpret what is being said in a way that means something to them personally – “there will have been times when you’ve felt fairly treated…”. Named after Milton H. Erickson. Most modern hypnotists use the Milton Model to induce trance and make therapeutic suggestions.

6. Chunking

You can break information and experience down into smaller chunks, place it like a jigsaw piece into a larger chunk, and even compare it to another chunk of information. This is a useful skill to have, as it shows you new ways of looking at things. Relaxation, for instance, can be seen as lots of specific things that make you feel relaxed (chunking down), part of the general category of “feeling good” (chunking up), or as one of many ways of helping you to work more effectively (chunking across).

7. Anchors

A sensory trigger for a feeling, that can happen accidentally (a certain perfume transporting you back to your childhood) or created deliberately (squeezing your earlobe whilst feeling very confident, so that you can re-create that confidence when you need it by squeezing your earlobe again).

8. Metaphor

Anything which conveys a message that one thing is like another – stories, jokes, puns, similes or anecdotes are all metaphors. A way of conveying useful information without preaching. You can also develop rapport with other people by listening out for the metaphors they use and matching them appropriately.

9. Neurological Levels

Robert Dilts developed the concept of different levels of experience – environment (what’s around us), behavior (what we do), capability (what we’re able to do), belief (what we think we can or should do) and identity (what we think we are). Changing one level can profoundly affect the others. Decluttering your desk means you do more work, increasing your ability to finish projects, making you believe that you can see things through to completion, so that you come to see yourself as someone who can achieve great things.

10. Simple Reframes

Putting a different interpretation on an experience. Nicotine, for example, can be reframed from “stress reliever” to “toxic stimulant”, a bad day at work can be reframed as a sign that it’s time for you to find a better job, and so on.

11. Six Step Reframes

A way of changing a behavior by identifying the part of the mind controlling it, separating out the positive intent behind it, and engaging the creative part of the mind to find better ways to meet the same purpose.

12. Parts Integration

Part of you wants to call it night, part of you wants to carry on and drink the bar dry. Parts integration means resolving this inner conflict, often through a Six Step Reframe (see above).


Sensory words that provide clues to a person’s style of thinking – see what I mean, sounds about right, feels OK to me, etc.

14. Strategies

The ultimate NLP pattern – a sequence of events that lead to an inevitable result. Strategies can be helpful (the things you do that lead you to make a great speech) or unhelpful (the things you do that make you vomit with fear before giving a speech). Once a strategy has been identified, it can be changed to make it more helpful.

15. TOTE

Test, Operation, Test, Exit. Basically, deciding on a desired outcome, testing how close your current situation comes to it, doing something to close the gap (the “operation”), and testing again until you reach that outcome, at which point you can stop testing.

Given the constraints of my blog space and your attention, this was always going to be a rough guide to NLP patterns. Once you’re familiar with the basic ideas, however, there’s lots of information available to help you explore further, and I’ll certainly be writing more about these concepts as time goes on.

Hypnosis and NLP

NLP and Hypnosis Belief Change Using Transparency

Engage the imagination, Change the belief.

Here is a belief change process that is quite cool that I came up with today. It hasn’t been coded yet into a “ready set and go” technique but for the intermediate to advanced hypnotists and NLPers out there, you will find a lot of great things to use in this. This is best done when you have already elicited the limiting belief, and the resourceful belief that they want to replace it with. Enjoy.

The Process

The setting is that your beliefs or thoughts are like a transparency that’s been put on a projector in a room… so that when you flip the projector on, it appears to light up kind of big on the screen, right? [Get them to agree, this is leading] It SEEMS real, right? [This is distancing them from it]

But you know that in reality that someone wrote those words on there, or put those pictures up there, and you could actually just erase them and start over. So imagine your limiting beliefs that you want to change being up there, and you know that since they are on a projector, that they have a bit of transparency to them, they are just light being projected.

Now these beliefs, of course, are very old, and dusty, aren’t they. [Tag question] Maybe they have fingerprints on them, or maybe the pictures are faded, or the words are partially erased from being written in that whiteboard marker that wipes off so easily.

And you know that at any time you could flip on the lights and that the projector would not be the only thing you would be focused on, and if the projector turns off, then you become aware of the rest of the room. And so up until now you have had those beliefs [Notice the changing of tenses here to put the beliefs in the past] up there, and they were up there shining pretty brightly and kind of taking over your attention … but you know at any time you can go ahead and flip on the lights in the classroom [Command], and realize that you are still learning.

Note: this is a metaphorical shift; we started off with a projector, then I added in that it’s in a room, then a classroom.

From being in a classroom we know we have the classroom lights and the projector lights, and if you turn on the classroom lights then it becomes obvious that the projector is no longer real. When we are in classrooms, we learn things. So I’m framing the whole process as a learning experience.

And if before those old beliefs start to fade away the lights turn on [Command and leading language], then you can grab the old transparency of those old beliefs and spray it with some solution to remove all the dust and grime, and maybe some of the old beliefs start to smudge as well, or maybe they wipe off all at once. Then find the trashcan and throw away that transparency, and take a new one out of the pack that is completely clean and free of smudges.

Now if you take the time to think about what would be better things to believe, notice if it is something where the better images immediately pop into place on the projector and you believe it just as strongly, or if you need to first dim the lights before the new images come up and they start to entrance you. [Double Bind]

So make sure that the new beliefs are just the way that you want them, and then you can dim the lights and start to play the pictures on the projector. Maybe they are moving pictures and you start to dream about how nice it is to believe these things, having had made these changes [Hypnosis Language Patterns]

Notes and Comments

If you wanted to you could easily make this into a more action-step type of process. The way I discovered this was by talking one of my clients through a changework process in which they had wanted to change some beliefs. They wanted to use a submodality swish, but they didn’t seem to be having much luck with it, so I came up with a new metaphor: the transparency on the projector.

There are lots of other things you can play with in this. I purposefully picked a transparency, because one of the visual submodality shifts is whether or not an image is solid or transparent. So if the client wasn’t quite getting it, I could easily go back to making the old beliefs transparent. And if I wanted to concrete the new beliefs, I would have them go back to being completely focused on the projection of the transparency, and have them step into it, making it real and solid.

By changing the context of what is happening, I make a shift between “old beliefs” (transparent / projector) and “new beliefs” (real and solid) … there’s also some great stuff in there about how they are always in a classroom, which means they are always learning, and so if they are learning then they can’t possibly have old beliefs (which were just written on a transparency with magic marker) to be somehow “stuck” there… instead we can spray solution on it, erase the old beliefs, smudge them, and do whatever to do them, because they are only a transparency…

Get the structure? 🙂 I really like this one. Try it out and leave a comment to let me know how well it worked for you!

Hypnosis and NLP

Conscious and Unconscious Mind Positioning (for Coaching and NLP)

Image of a client and therapist engaged in unconscious communication

Here is a quick hypnosis and NLP technique that I often use:

When explaining the pre-talk to the person, tap a space on the table that is closer to them, and label it the “conscious” mind. Then refer to a space closer to you, and label it the “unconscious mind.” This way when you’re talking, you can put things into the space for the unconscious mind.

Note: When I say “label” it, I mean that you are referring to it in an ambiguous way. You don’t outright tell them, “this is your conscious mind, this is your unconscious” instead you say “your unconscious mind” while gesturing to the space closest to you.

The unconscious space is closer to you, so it presupposes that if things come from that direction, they must be intended for the unconscious mind. You are essentially creating a submodality shift — by aligning things on a line, for which close to you means “unconscious” and away from you means “conscious”.

We can also indicate messages to be for the unconscious mind by using tonal marking and by referring to a visual location with our eyes (example: looking over the person’s right shoulder every time a message is meant for the unconscious mind)

Hypnosis and NLP

Deconstructing Personality Test Types

Hey everyone,

Recently I’ve been very interested in the area of determining personality test types and classifying both myself and other people into groups. I have studied personality before, starting back in Middle School when they gave me this test that apparently said I was to be put on an accelerated track. Among other things, they would recite a long string of numbers to me and I would have to read them back to them in reverse order (no paper or anything) — I’ve since found out this is pretty much entirely a visual function.

Anyway, at that time I was also introduced to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which most of you have probably heard of since it is pretty familiar. However what most people don’t know is that there are many more different sorters of personality and that while the MBTI usually a realistic and accurate description of a given personality type, there are definitely other sorters as well!

For example, a shoot-off from the Myers-Briggs is a branch of Psychology called Socionics. Socionics is based on Carl Jung’s work on Personality Test Types, Sigmund Freud’s work, and Antoni Kepinski’s Theory of Information Metabolism. It is based on the idea that we all have “psychological functions” and that if we chain or interlink these functions in certain ways, it forms a distinct personality profile.

Another great field about personality is the Enneagram. This one I am newer to, but I’ve gained a lot of knowledge on it already. Essentially there are 9 “types” of people, and then you have usually two sub-types that they can have. The Enneagram has been criticized for being too generalized, but I’ve found it already to be a great tool and I’d have to say that those criticisms are probably unwarranted, if you consider that there needs to be some deletion of information to form a cohesive and to-the-point personality model.

Another cool thing that the Enneagram does is that if you know what your primary type is, it will tell you which of the other types you tend to become more like, if you are in a state of growth or a state of stress in your life. When I used it on myself, it was surprisingly accurate!

Now when I got into NLP and especially when I started doing master practitioner level training, I started to learn about something called Metaprograms. In NLP we say that people have certain “programs” or “strategies” that they use in different contexts. Metaprograms are the programs that tend to influence what those programs do. In other words, they are “Meta to” (Meta is a prefix meaning ‘above or about’) the other programs.

What is important about Metaprograms is that they are usually very good ways of predicting behavior, and of determining a person’s personality. Some of the meta programs are Match vs. Mismatch, Options vs. Proceedures, Big chunk vs. Small chunk, and Visual/Auditory/Kinesthetic. Yes, which representational system a person uses is a metaprogram.

And what got me into this recently is that I read a book, which was recommended to me by my friend James Scott, and which I also highly recommend, called “Personality Selling” by Albert J Valentino. This is a -great- book and what it does is combines the information of the meta-programs from NLP and the types from the Enneagram, and mixes them together to tell you -exactly- how to influence a particular person.

Just think, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to communicate with anyone in the way that -they- wish to be communicated with? Sometimes we don’t always get along with other people, but why is that? Usually it is because they are not matching our filters and we are not matching their filters.

What we FEEL is real or what we THINK is real is usually not what is actually there. We have filters in place. We now know that if a person has an experience, that when they go to describe that experience to another person, they will only communicate between 1 and 2 percent of the total information. That’s it!

What is more, they will filter the information in certain predictable ways. That means in order to tell you about these personality types, I am filtering all of the information I know about it into what I think would be most useful to you. Am I right? Leave a comment!

Anyway, in 1957, Noam Chomsky found that there are 3 main ways that we determine reality and that we filter reality through our own perceptions. These three ways are Deletion, Distortion, and Generalization.

Deletion is best illustrated by the famous study in 1972 by George Miller which I call the “Seven Plus or Minus Two” study… and he found that human begins can hold seven plus or minus two bits of information in their conscious awareness at any one time, and if you go beyond that then it gets hard or sometimes even impossible to follow. Have you ever thought about how phone numbers are 7 digits long? What happens is that we delete everything except for that seven plus or minus two.

The other process that we go through is known as Distortion. If you’ve ever walked into a new place that you were going to live and you imagined what the furniture would look like, you were distorting reality! And we have a word for that in hypnosis, it’s called hallucination! Another example is, have you ever heard “creaking noises” late at night and you thought it was a burgular but afterwards you discovered it was just your imagination? It’s distortion again! So we do these things all the time.

The last process that we go through is known as Generalization, and human beings generalize information constantly. When you go to open a door at a place you have never been before, you just assume that the doorknob will be on the right and that you will turn it and the door will open. You also assume there’s something on the other side! Of course without this generalization we would be unable to move through life, so although it does eliminate “data,” it is a wonderful device that we can use.

So lately I’ve been thinking about all of this information, and trying to figure out, how can we use all of this to really determine personality, and how can we use THAT information to help us in working with our clients?

The main use of this that makes sense to me is that you will communicate with the other person in ways that they can understand and in the ways they prefer to be communicated with. In addition to that, if you are working with clients who perhaps have over-generalized beliefs or behaviors, you can use a tool like the NLP Meta Model to deconstruct what is going on, and to de-nominalize their language.

Most of all, it really helps if you know who -you- are and how you tend to react in certain situations. It might help you find which people you are most compatible with in certain situations (both socionics and myers-briggs give charts to show which types you are most compatible with in certain contexts), and it could also help you to find which profession would be most fulfilling for you.

The thing is, you probably already have an idea of what these things would be, but by sharing the experience of others and even joining message boards related to personality, you would have a HUGE advantage. In my coaching programs one of the first things I do is a thorough inventory to determine what motivates a person and what makes them tick as far as personality goes, and these are the tools I use!

I hope this article on personality test types has been of benefit to you, and let me know when you leave a comment, whether it was of great help to you or if you only learned some new tips and techniques.

Hypnosis and NLP

Quote from Milton

“Long overdue is the fulfillment of the need to recognize that meaningful communication should replace repetitious verbigerations, direct suggestions, and authoritarian commands” – Milton H Erickson

Erickson has a great point here, and if you’ve been reading the forum lately, my focus is on “what makes us hypnotist apart from giving suggestions.”

I challenge all of you to go out and find the limits of the work. Could you do hypnosis without having a formal trance? In what ways can you induce trance and then limit it? What are the ways to move someone from state to state, and from process to process, eliciting and installing useful strategies.