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Welcome to back to World Of NLP!

Some bored yahoo decided to spam our domain with tens of thousands of emails, so we just restored this site, and will be in the midst of reshaping what is required. In the meantime, all attachments seem to have failed. If you belong to the CMC group, you should be able to find all those necessary documents in the Facebook page.

If you are in the Practitioner group, well, go back to the FB group and ask me if you need anything.




NLP Practitioner Training: Submodality Protocols

I’ve just started to develop a set of submodality protocols in order to enable trainees to go through processes that will yield more consistent results. In most NLP Practitioner trainings, I find that the quality control of the trainings themselves is poor, and an attempt needs to be made in order to develop trainings in a way that yields consistency not just of the trainer, but of the results generated by the processes espoused by NLP.


In NLP, preparation work about submodalities needs to be made for a variety of reasons. I find that if I jump into submodality interventions, I may not have much of a response because I’m dealing with an individual who has certain limitations explaining their model of the world verbally. A certain level of preparation needs to be done to talk an individual through the unconscious processes that are happening in the mind of the audience. I would encourage a series of three simple demonstrations.

  • The first demonstration should be a “natural submodality disposition” test, just to show that submodalities are a natural thing to them, not something the  practitioner put in their head. Tell the participant to think of two distinct items. I prefer to ask about something they like to do versus something they dislike doing. By asking them about the characteristics of the mental image, they can understand the submodalities a little better.
  • The second demonstration is the “mind-body connection” test. Individuals who are experiencing NLP the first time may not be convinced about the shift. In the picture of dislike, I ask them to rate how bad they feel about it. If they are at level 5, I then test one or two driver submodalities to intensify the sense of dislike (e.g. “what happens when you remove the color from the picture, and make the movie go slower?”). This is to show the relationship between the mental image and emotional state. Do remember that some individuals do not respond very easily to the mental image.
  • The third demonstration is the linkage of the submodality through triggers. This will show that submodalities are not a static element, but a dynamic element. I will ask them for a situation where they habitually did something, such as laze around instead of going to exercise. On one or two occasions they may have been able to exercise, and I want to know why they managed to do that. Often, it is because of the situation that triggered them. They may have seen someone running. They may have been told by their doctor to exercise or suffer consequences. Whatever the trigger, that is just ONE trigger. I’ll explain to a participant that a stable behavior is created through developing a series of triggers to lead to the same outcome.

Elicitation. This process requires the practitioner to know what kinds of questions to ask, but ultimately they need to know the Meta Model.

  • Start off by eliciting a problem state. For instance, a problem state could be procrastination (one of the top favorites). Most practitioners will start by asking details about the submodalities right away. Don’t do that. You need to know a bit about the context. They procrastinate for various reasons (i.e. find out the root causes/context), and the procrastination may be caused by elements in the environment and therefore ecological. One such example would be where an individual is procrastinating because the reward structure encourages last minute bursts of sales. I know some companies have incentives in the last quarter that unconsciously encourage sales people to wait until that quarter before actually taking action.
  • Once you know what the problem state is, you need to decide what the solution state is, and test it with your client. For instance, it is a common mistake for a practitioner to immediately assume that “motivation” is the answer to procrastination. Often, the solution state presents itself when you find out the root context or root cause. Sometimes, fear might be a better resource state to tap into. Sometimes, anger. Relaxation. Or humor. In the above case, it may appear that self-serving “fear” may be a better motivator than the others. I typically ask the client to test it out first before entering into the intervention stage.


  • During the time of the intervention, you, as a practitioner, need to make a decision about the end outcome of the intervention. Do you want this habit that needs to be propagated? Or is it merely a way to disconnect an old behavior/habit?
  • Examples of situations requiring propagation of new behavior: overly anxious people, suicidal thoughts, depressives, negative thinking, peak performance preparation.
  • Examples of situations requiring disconnect an old habit: compulsions, phobias and fears, overeating/snacking, smoking.
  • In the first case, you will need to utilize the submodality Swish Pattern to reinforce habitual patterns.
  • In the second case, you will need to utilize other possible patterns such as the Compulsion Blowout Pattern or the Mapping Across process
  • In certain occasions, where the individual does not appear to be resourceful enough to develop changes, there could be issues associated with the belief (a blocking belief) or other associated ecological issues.

Finally, as a practitioner, test your interventions. There are ways to test if the intervention will work and transfer in the long term. It is about enhancing motivation, developing a higher level of clarity of how to use the change in different moments of the future. This is commonly known as future pacing. One process you can use to integrate future pacing into your interventions is the Comparative Future Pacing technique.

NLP Practitioner: Submodality Mapping Trouble

It’s a common question: what happens in doing Mapping Across when you found that your client has the desired state image and problem state image submodalities as identical?

According to Bandler, it is through the process of contrast that we learn. LaValle (during our training) mentions this: “The brain learns from what is different, and recognizes what’s the same”. So, it’s going to be quite impossible for a client to have two different experiences and have the same submodalities.

It must mean, therefore, error on the part of the practitioner!

Most practitioners follow the steps as indicated inside a textbook. Now, I’m not saying that’s bad, but I’m suggesting that the issue associated with this is a highly rigid practitioner!

Let’s do a simulation here:

PR: Think of a time when you were motivated.

CL: Ok.

PR: Is is close or far away?

CL: Close.

PR: Is it black and white or color?

CL: Color.

<snip… elicitation of first experience over>

PR: Think of the image of your procrastination.

CL: Ok.

PR: Is is close or far away?

CL: Close.

PR: Is it black and white or color?

CL: Color.

PR: (wait a minute… they are all the same)

PR: Uh… (raises hand to look for Stuart)

You see… the issue here is the practitioner does not know how to determine the “difference that makes the difference”. The practitioner should say something like this:

PR: Think of a time when you were motivated.

CL: Ok.

PR: Is is close or far away?

CL: Close.

PR: Is it black and white or color?

CL: Color.

<snip… elicitation of first experience over>

PR: Think of the image of your procrastination.

CL: Ok.

PR: Is is close or far away?

CL: Close.

PR: Hm, which is closer, the motivated picture you saw earlier or this one?

CL: The motivated one.

So, remember, it’s not that difficult to ask the client to do a comparison. Most beginners who experience NLP may not be able to articulate their representations very well. So, it is up to us to be able to communicate in a way that best fits our client.

NLP Practitioner: Submodality Strategies

There are three distinct categories of submodality work that can be done. I think it is important that I first assert the issues surrounding submodality work that many trainers of practitioners seldom address.

Reasons why submodalities are not fully used

I’ve seen a lot of different ways in which submodalities are used, but why are they sometimes not used? Here are some reasons:-

  1. Submodalities appears to be complicated. This is sometimes due to the technical nature of submodalities. It is necessary to address this and to second position the learner and understand what exactly is the barrier. Often, beliefs are the barrier to learning, and by addressing the belief and shifting it, you could allow your learner to advance much more.
  2. Don’t know how to use submodalities. This issue comes across when the mechanics of submodalities are not addressed. For instance, it may be easy for a trainer to say “make your picture dimmer” but the student has no concept of ‘making’ it dimmer. First, they might not be able to get over the idea that they are in charge. Second, they might not understand the difference between ‘analog‘ and ‘digital‘ submodalities.
  3. Don’t know how to apply. This often comes as a result of reliance on a script. In many cases, I’ve found it interesting that the client’s frame of thought actually enables me to identify the solution. A client once said “I keep cleaning other people’s mess uncontrollably when I see their mess”. By exploring their submodalities, I can see why that ‘mess’ is ‘uncontrollable’. It was due to the subjective scale that makes this client far more sensitive to mess than others. What is a level 3 mess for you is a level 10 mess for him. I believe that once practitioners know how to determine what submodalities are used for, and the varied extent of their applications, they will be able to know how to use them.
  4. Inability to remember definitions. Ok this is something that will require another strategy: a memory strategy 🙂
  5. Definition meanings. Some practitioners fail to define the meanings of what a client says effectively. While NLP is great in exploring issues without the need to ask for the content behind the issue, it becomes a problem if the structure of the issue is not first clarified. The term “motivation” is sometimes misunderstood, for example. Some people think of motivation as a really big sense of achievement. Of course, not everyone has had ‘massive’ achievements.

3 Categories Of Submodality Work

  1. Comparison of states, beliefs and values
  2. Modification of states, beliefs and values
  3. Associating states, beliefs and values

I’ll cover each of them in turn in future articles.

Psychotherapist Tips: Minding Your Language?

Recently, I had a chance to witness what a person does in a therapeutic setting. He was working with a client who had a depressive episode and used Cognitive Behavior Therapy as the principle mode of therapy.  This client had an issue that some of us might find familiar – he had broken up with his partner of several years and the principle outcome was to stop having to feel the negative sensations of a breakup.

So, the therapist  appeared to me competent in what he did, and came toward the closing of the session pretty well. But something strange happened: at the end of the therapy session, he said something along the lines of “imagine a time when you might experience a breakup again. She says you’re not worth the trouble.”

Now, according to my knowledge, I had not heard that phrase “you’re not worth the trouble” crop up in the entire therapy session. The therapist had the good intent of testing a future response. However, this particular phrase “you’re not worth the trouble” caused an emotional outburst. After calming the client down, it so happened that his was the phrase that he remembered hearing when his mother left his father (client was much younger).

Maybe this is a shout out to therapists who think that their mode of therapy is good enough. I think I used to be in that category, until I discovered NLP, learnt how to learn and model other modes of therapy (amongst many other things) and apply it to my current practice.

Language has hidden layers. In NLP, we call them ‘presuppositions’. According to transformational grammar theory (a little archaic, but still useful as a model), we have the deep structure of experience and the surface structure. The Deep Structure represents connections that people have beyond just the statement. A factual statement like “He is jumping into the pool” presupposes a few things.

  • at this very point, he is near the pool (a presupposed fact by the nature of the statement)
  • the pool has water (it is, after all, a ‘pool’)

You can’t assume, however:

  • he is happy jumping into the pool

This is a straightforward statement. Imagine if the statement was “I can’t believe my mother would treat my sister so badly”

  • Your mother treats your sister badly
  • Your mother did not tell you
  • You were ignorant that your sister was treated badly
  • Your sister was treated to a degree that is worse that your mental average

See… layers and layers of presupposed information.

Language, in my opinion, is the most complex of the layers within a therapeutic relationship, and I believe it is essential to know how language is used in order for us to maximize the therapeutic alliance, and to really hear what the client is telling us. If for no other reason at all, learn NLP for the purposes of discovering language and the way it functions in any kind of therapeutic relationship!

NLP Glossary: Hebbian Theory

As extracted from WikipediaDendritesMerge
Creative Commons License photo credit: neurollero:

In 1929, Hans Berger discovered that the mind exhibits continuous electrical activity and cast doubt on the Pavlovian model of perception and response because, now, there appeared to be something going on in the brain even without much stimulus.

At the same time, there were many mysteries. For example, if there was a method for the brain to recognize a circle, how does it recognize circles of various sizes or imperfect roundness? To accommodate every single possible circle that could exist, the brain would need a far greater capacity than it has.

Another theory, the Gestalt theory, stated that signals to the brain established a sort of field. The form of this field depended only on the pattern of the inputs, but it still could not explain how this field was understood by the mind.

The behaviorist theories at the time did well at explaining how the processing of patterns happened. However, they could not account for how these patterns made it into the mind.

Hebb combined up-to-date data about behavior and the mind into a single theory. And, while the understanding of the anatomy of the brain did not advance much since the development of the older theories on the operation of the brain, he was still able to piece together a theory that got a lot of the important functions of the brain right.

His theory became known as Hebbian theory and the models which follow this theory are said to exhibit Hebbian learning. This method of learning is best expressed by this quote from the book:

When an axon of cell A is near enough to excite cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that A’s efficiency, as one of the cells firing B, is increased

This is often paraphrased as “Neurons that fire together wire together.” It is commonly referred to as Hebb’s Law.

The combination of neurons which could be grouped together as one processing unit, Hebb referred to as “cell-assemblies”. And their combination of connections made up the ever-changing algorithm which dictated the brain’s response to stimuli.

Not only did Hebb’s model for the working of the mind influence how psychologists understood the processing of stimuli within the mind but also it opened up the way for the creation of computational machines that mimicked the biological processes of a living nervous system. And while the dominant form of synaptic transmission in the nervous system was later found to be chemical, modern artificial neural networks are still based on the transmission of signals via electrical impulses that Hebbian theory was first designed around.