Most practitioners and even people who are casually exposed to NLP or Neurolinguistics Programming methods are often amazed by how impactful it is and how quickly change can be achieved. How does this happen and why? NLP is not just a single technique, but a whole set of techniques and tools that take into consideration how our brain and all of our senses work together to communicate and form our perception of both the world around us and the world within us. NLP was developed in the early 1970's by Dr. Richard Bandler and Dr. John Grinder. In the course of their studies they drew from the work of the best in a number of different disciplines taking into consideration what was most successful. They used the work of others and analyzed the results to come up with systems that do seem to work fairly reliably. In fact, neuroscience is now giving us the why's behind some of what has been working for a long time. NLP has been used, not just in psychology and counseling, but in many other fields where communication and relationships are important like sales, management, teaching and even entertainment. Tony Robbins uses it routinely in his work and speaking and many other motivational speakers, trainers, teachers, preachers and even politicians are quite expert in using it. It is usually used ethically with good intent, but can be used with less integrity too. Examples would be for the purpose or brain washing or propaganda. Unknowing subjects can be negatively impacted using it with no integrity. It is a powerful tool and used positively we can create change and influence in important areas of our lives. Let's talk about the good purposes and the seeming magic that can be achieved. It can be such a wonderful tool for healing and change.
NLP training is usually broken into two 7 or 8 full-day sessions just to give you the basics, so you might guess there are a lot of tools and techniques involved and we are only going to talk about a few here to give you an idea of how it works and has such a strong impact. Really mastering and applying the techniques is an art in itself and that is why a skilled practitioner can be so helpful in guiding you with NLP.
In this article we are going to talk about anchoring, contextual reframing and mental rehearsal. These are all quite simple, but when practiced it will surprise you how fast and effective they can be. There are literally hundreds of techniques and some get more complex. They are also quite flexible and after learning NLP, you will easily be able to modify and customize these tools to fit the situation or if you are a practitioner, the client.
Let’s start with anchoring, sometimes called States and Anchors. It is a way to change your state by experiencing the feeling from another time and place. Anchoring is used frequently in many different ways. Sometimes it is just to set a pleasant and positive state to return to or guide your client to whenever needed. Bring your client to a state of relaxation and then ask them to remember or imagine a pleasant enjoyable and relaxing place or situation from anytime in their past. Take them through remembering this time with all of their senses and when they are completely relaxed and immersed in this pleasant memory, gently tap on their shoulder, have them rub their fingers (thumb & forefinger) together, snap your fingers or any other indicator signal and suggest that whenever they want to return to this pleasant state they can simply rub their finger together (or whatever you used) and they will be brought back automatically to this pleasant memory and feeling. With this tool someone can learn to go to this pleasant place whenever they are confronted with a negative or unpleasant trigger. The more times this is practiced the more automatic it will become. You can also use something like an anchor stone that the client can hold in their hand during this process and whenever they hold the stone again, they can re-experience the same feelings and memories.
Contextual Reframing is another great technique. An example of this would be changing the way someone thinks about or perceives something without altering the actual circumstance. One day a client with low self-esteem was telling me about feeling out of place when she went to a networking group. She was much younger than most of the other members and saw them as having more professional and important businesses than she did. She said, “I’m just a lowly dog walker and they were all professionals.” I said, “Were there any other 23-year-old women, who had their own successful business doing something they really enjoyed at the meeting?” She looked surprised and then smiled slightly and I knew she got the point and was seeing things from a new perspective.
Finally, Mental Rehearsal is a great technique most of us have probably used to some extent, but that can be honed to produce excellent results very quickly. The truth is, what we imagine internally produces the same neurological experience for us as when we do something in real-time. Therefore, if we can imagine doing something in just the way we would like to perform when we actually do it, it is a form of training and results in the same performance improvement or very close to it, that actually practicing does. As they say, “practice makes perfect”, so the more we rehearse or practice mentally, the more improvement we will see in our physical or real-time performance. I don’t always remember this, but I have done this and found it to work well, even before I knew it was an NLP technique. I had a guest on my radio show who used this NLP technique to become a pro-golfer very quickly. She then wrote a book about how you can do this too, using NLP. This can be applied to almost any area of your performance or learning.
Hopefully, these 3 simple techniques give you an idea of how NLP can help people to make changes and achieve goals very quickly. To a great extent it is a matter of having the knowledge and being aware of how to use it to your best advantage. With that knowledge and awareness there is no limit to what you can accomplish. Give these simple techniques a try and I am betting you will want to come back and learn more about how NLP can help you up level your performance and your life.
Age-Regression is a hypnosis technique that is frequently used, however, there is some discussion as to whether it is always the best technique or if it is needed at all. Some believe that it is the go-to procedure for effective resolution of almost every issue. Other hypnotherapists don’t really believe that it is necessary at all and never use it. There is a middle ground where some hypnotherapists believe that there are specific times and issues where age regression works well and other times when it is better to use other procedures.
Age-Regression is when the hypnotist guides the client back to retrieve or re-experience memories that happened at an earlier age. This can be cathartic and there are some specific reasons why this is done. It is sometimes very effective in resolving issues. As the client sees and experiences events from the past, they are looking at them from a different perspective and seeing them in a different way with added resources for dealing with them and can therefore come away with different feelings and perhaps, an improved outcome or better perspective of that outcome. On the other hand, going back and re-living past traumas, experiencing those feeling again, can reignite traumas unnecessarily. It is also true that each time we go back to a past memory we change it and we may not be dealing accurately with things. How do we decide then if using age regression is the best choice?
There is not one right answer to this question. I think it depends on many factors and the decision will be very individual and may come somewhat intuitively. However, for me, there are some things that I consider. First, what is the client’s comfort level with going back and delving into those past traumas? Second, is there another way of addressing and dealing with the issues without using age-regression? If there is another way of dealing with the issues and resolving any undesirable feelings or behaviors associated with those issues, then I will choose not to do age-regression, unless the client is really wanting and expecting to experience it. It is always my goal to make the clients healing experience as trauma-free as possible. I try to set up the expectation that the treatment will be easy and not a difficult process with lots of pain and suffering involved. I have found that many clients do expect difficulty and suffering from their experiences with traditional psychotherapy and counseling and often dread the idea of going through such an experience. If seems obvious that can do nothing, but hinder the healing process. It is always my goal to change that expectation and start things off with the client in a hopeful mindset with an expectation that issues will be easily and quickly resolved.
In many cases, issues can be resolved and feelings changed by dealing with the beliefs around a particular experience, rather than actually going back and recreating that time and experience. At other times, experiences can be reframed or energy can be refocused away from dwelling on those negative feelings surrounding past issues. Sometimes techniques designed to eliminate the physical and emotional symptoms associated with the trauma created by the negative event may work well. For instances, learning to recognize when and where you are holding tension in your body and learning to relief or eliminate this tension may be enough to let go of the negativity and trauma from a past experience and move forward. It is believed that going back through regression can be somewhat retraumatizing and if that can be avoided it seems worthwhile.
I have gone through three different hypnotherapy training programs that emphasize handling things in different ways and have found positives in all of them. I have not found one that I believe does everything the best way in every situation, nor do I know that I have discovered the best way to handle every situation. I am constantly learning and finding new answers to these questions. I do rely strongly on my intuition in making these decisions, well as, constantly reading and talking with colleagues about their experience with various techniques. I am learning to trust intuition, along with adding constantly evolving knowledge, as I go along. I encounter new situations on a regular basis and continue to add more ways of effectively working with clients to my skills tool bag. Hypnosis has been around for a long time and there is a huge amount of continuously evolving knowledge and many different approaches. There are numerous ways of dealing with some problems and all of them are successful in certain situations.
In conclusion, I have to say that in the right situation, a good age-regression can work very powerfully and effectively. I have experienced it myself and have seen the lights go on very quickly for clients through an age-regression experience. It tends to dissolve past trauma and eliminate triggers effectively in many cases.
About the Author
Kate Olson, CPC, CHt, is a Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP Master Practitioner & Certification Trainer, EFT Practitioner and Reiki Master practicing in Seattle at Embrace Change Hypnosis & NLP and Northern Lights Life Coaching .
She offers workshops & classes, as well as, individual and group coaching. Her emphasis is on assisting clients in finding path, purpose and peace. Kate focuses on integration of mind, body, spirit wellness with all of her businesses. It is her mission to help clients find joy through connection, creative expression and change facilitation. Kate is a speaker, writer and radio show host of "Embrace Change with Kate" on Contact Talk Radio, in additional to her private practice. She is passionate about creativity, travel, personal growth and living with joyful purpose. Kate's businesses operate as Dba's under Total Well Resources, LLC.