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NLP Ecology Redefined (Part 2: Strategies)
© Annegret Hallanzy (from: "NLP Ecologie Redefiniert")

Translated by Marcel Marien. Edited by Martyn Carruthers

Research the relationship consequences of trainings and trainers before attending them - especially if hypnosis and belief change are themes of the training.
Good intentions do not prevent unpleasant consequences.
Martyn Carruthers

Student Abuse by Trainers . Client Abuse by Therapists . Online Life Coaching

Continued from: Part 1 - NLP Resource Techniques

NLP Ecology Redefined by Annegret Hallanzy (Part 2)

Brief Therapy is understood to be any therapy that, from the onset, is limited to anywhere from 10 minutes to 10 sessions. Brief Therapy is 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.

I include brief descriptions of these techniques for two reasons.

  1. the effectiveness of coaching directly rises in consequence of expertise in goal setting and by correctly applying NLP techniques.
  2. annotations found under Ecology describe some limitations of NLP techniques.

Since few NLP trainers teach the same techniques in the same way, the Short Descriptions are meant to be a foundation for Ecology discussions and not to teach technique. The NLP techniques are presented in the order that they were made public.

The coach is designated as "B", the client as "A". "K" refers to feelings.

NLP Techniques: Strategy Coaching

If a client doesn’t primarily come for brief therapy with emotional problems – i.e. because of bad feelings – but because he wants to learn something, then NLP strategy techniques can be applied. The client usually wants to prepare for a defined new challenge. These techniques don’t work with inner parts or mentors, but strategically prepare for the desired success. Proof that the technique has been appropriately applied is not primarily that the client feels better, but is found in the corresponding test-situation success.

Such coaching will frequently appear within a context in which the coach is also a professional expert. Learning has become so complex that direct learning between two human beings is increasingly important. However, the desire for such a coaching may be a pretext for lonely managers to talk to someone without having to judge or be judged. There is nothing wrong with a lonely person having a mentor. The ritual of togetherness is more important than the technique.

Regarding strategy techniques, remarks about ecology do not concern the danger of long-term suppression of inner parts, but only the restriction of increasing choice. If a client recognizes that something is better, there is no reason to unlearn anything. It is healthier than strategically suppressing unwanted behaviors. This does not mean that there is no reciprocation. There is no change without new learning.

Nevertheless, from the beginning, a technique must correspond to the client's goal. Then, no ecology-check is needed to prevent “an inappropriate, spontaneous generalization” (as is stated in a well-known NLP book). This book recommends short reframes as a remedy against the client applying what he has learned unecologically. If from the outset, the application of a strategy or technique is tailored towards a specific success and is therefore predictable in its effect, such ecology-checks become superfluous.

NLP New Behavior Generator

Application – client A’s wish: “I want to do Y in a certain moment.”

Short Description – Thies Stahl developed a New Behavior Generator which is used in an associated state, with spatial anchors, and a design-creating variant used in a dissociated state. For the first possibility, those wishing to synthesize new behaviors, with spatial anchors and role-models, should make a distinction between designing either a real behavior or designing a strategy which uses alternating perspectives of the future (see the Disney Strategy, which is more appropriate).

The second possibility is to emphasize that a client learn from personally relevant role models (here the mentor-work developed by Dilts goes deeper). If a client really wishes to design a new behavior for a certain moment, I regard the Thies Stahl variant as being more precise and therefore more effective. The client designs the dissociated goal behavior in the eye-accessing field Vc in such a way, that the client likes it as much as possible. If the design doesn’t reach 100% congruence, the coach directs the client to eye-accessing field Ad, where a client asks himself: “Who might have what is still missing in this design – do I have this in another context or does somebody else have it?

The crucial point is that the client doesn’t receive or even wait for the answer in Ad. Any thought strategy will be transcended if the unconscious gets the chance to answer the double question (“What is missing?” and “Who has it?”) spontaneously in Vr.

Then even unpleasant models may be chosen, who are nevertheless more instructive about a certain aspect. Therefore the coach directs the client immediately to Vr by asking: “What do you see?” The model or the dissociated self-model isn’t analyzed consecutively, but only gratefully honored. A client imagines a filter between Vr and Vc (a curtain / river / border or a short external orientation towards a symbolic object). Then A gazes towards the role-model, shortly rests with the symbolic object and then slides over to the design – doing it all relatively quickly. It ought to be a surprise, which aspect A’s unconscious will install into the design! This model learning via Vc – Ad – Vr – Vc is repeated until the client congruently agrees to the design.

Since during the realization of the desired and then automated behavior Y, a client has an external orientation, there won’t be much time for a client to check out if he feels fine behaving in this way. Thus from outside a design might look promising, but it might still not conform to all of a client’s values.

Therefore a congruence check is required. For this, a coach elicits a feeling of congruence by leading a client into a different situation (VAKOG) and anchoring it.

Once A has fully associated himself into the design of behavior Y, the coach asks: “Does what you are doing right now fit with respect to this? (while triggering the anchor, communicating that the client should seek a meta-K)” Any objection, which arises here, can now be honored by further modifying the design of the behavior with the help of one or two additional models.

Once the design becomes 100% agreeable to A, from both dissociated and associated positions, the design is programmed into the future by asking: “Is there any exception in which this new behavior would not be appropriate?

Ecology – A classic well-formed outcome is the wish to act in a specific way during a specified moment. Only the missing adverb (“In which way do you want to do it?”) is specified during this technique. Therefore, this is appropriate for complex communications, in which the client wants to be on different levels to himself and to others. The problem isn’t a conflict or trauma from past failure, but lack of experience in such situations and a lack of appropriate models.

The New Behavior Generator can be understood as mental performance of a certain situation with a goal of excellence. Here is an effective coaching technique. The freedom of design together with the meticulous evaluation and a differentiated role-model learning are elements, which are in any case applied internally by those people who don’t need many trial-and-error approaches to perform differently.

The New Behavior Generator utilizes all mechanisms of self-feedback. It works exactly opposite to Failure into Feedback. The eye-accessing pattern isn’t utilized to disassemble a failure into feedback, but to synthesize learning experiences into success! Instead of taking apart and thus destroying a failure-strategy, this strategy of mental preparation for success is assembled and exercised. This meta-process is a useful by-product of the New Behavior Generator.

The ecology of the New Behavior Generator is provided by the unconscious performance of this strategy. Ecology can be easily checked, if a coach lets a client consciously choose what a client wants to learn from which model and in which manner. The coach then says to the client: “Wonderful, an essential element has been added to the design... how do you like everything now?” while the coach simultaneously notices the client’s non-verbal objections, which appear although the client is quoting a higher satisfaction.

NLP Swish Pattern

Application – Client’s wish: “I want behavior Y in context X.”

Short description – Client A's dreaded situation is portrayed in a colorful associated picture. In an inconspicuous place, a hardly recognizable, tiny black and white picture is inserted, which portrays a dissociated image of A engaging in a desired activity in the same context. While A isn’t yet staring at the composition, but fully turned towards the coach, the coach explains the procedure. The small picture is to become colorful and big, and the big picture is to fade and disappear behind the other. The whole process is to run the instant coach B says “Swissshhh” or something like that.

Two submodality changes are thus linked with each other in a fast and uncontrollable way. The same principle can be applied auditory (submodalities loud/quiet and direction of the sound are a successful combination). Depending on the circumstances, the screen has to be blanked (separator state) and the process repeated until the problem picture swishes on its own. Then the client associates into the new behavior.

Ecology – As short and easy as this formula sounds, it is rare to find a client who congruently wants success of this kind. Usually the emotional impact of the problem picture makes it difficult for a client to determine the desired behavior. Here it would be better to have a client reconcile with the part that presents the future situation in such a [gloomy] way.

If a client can indeed congruently wish for a new behavior, either in spite of or because of the negative emotions in context X, a client has two possibilities. Either he reconciles with the negative emotion through pondering about alternative behaviors, or the desired behavior is only represented in dissociation so that objections are not accessible. Some objections won’t show unless they are checked in an associated state, since they are concerned with values from another logical level.

To avoid objections after the application of the technique, the goal should first be formed only verbally, without corresponding pictures. Pondering about an alternative behavior as a way to a real solution of the problem is typical for problems with which the client has developed in context X a pessimistic thinking habit. The Swish brightens the situation in A’s mind and simultaneously gives A a strategy for tuning himself positively towards uncertain situations. The technique is well suited “at the fringe” of a coaching session for a positive attitude towards stressful temporary aspects, but should never be used for achieving a reconciliation between parts or instead of reconciling objections.

At best, A’s unconscious mind will prevent an unecological Swish. However you cannot count on this trick – especially when strongly dissociated parts are concerned. I observe with great discomfort that in the NLP scene, all is swished with everything. To summarize: the less important the subject of a swish, the better a client can generalize the strategy.

NLP Contrast Submodalities (Mapping Across)

Application – Client’s wish: “I want to do X like I do Y.”

Short description – client A cannot utilize situation X in the same way that he can utilize situation Y. Client A’s mental photograph of situation X is analyzed for submodalities. Here it is especially important to ascertain the visual, auditory and kinesthetic channels if the representation is internal (associated?/dissociated?) or external, and to then do a detailed analysis. The same is done for situation Y. The digital differences between the submodalities of X and Y are recorded.

Afterwards those analog submodalities (spectrum submodalities) which differ from each other are tested in situation Y. If increasing one of them makes situation Y even more pleasant, that is recorded as well (as a driver). Now B leads A again into Situation X and gives A precise instructions on how to change all submodalities in situation X (in the sequence V – A – K) towards those of Y without changing the content. With the Future pace: “Is there any exception in which you would like to keep the original way to experience X?”, the new perception and with it the new behavior are programmed into the future.

Ecology – If used correctly, the contrast method will be used rarely. Clients usually wish to be able to do something differently. When A says he wants “to be able to” during goal-finding, this always hints that the real problem will be found in doubts and that A’s immediate goal is a desired belief, rather than a behavior. In this case, emotional reconciliation with the doubting part also leads to competence.

If client A really wants to experience a certain competence, then A’s goal is a new behavior for meeting new challenges. Of course the questions arise, "Why A didn’t already map across the perception filter from situation Y to situation X on his own. Why does A need B to teach him his own strategy?"

Similar to the Swish, the real resource lies in a client pondering about the new behavior: “Why shouldn’t I enjoy doing something, which I already enjoy doing and which I’m already good at in another context?” This is a new thinking pattern. The change in perceiving challenge X, that is brought about by the contrast method, invites a client to look for new challenges.

NLP Disney Strategy

Application – Client’s wish: “I want to approach situation X resourcefully.”

Short description – a client places a sheet of paper on the floor, having written on it a prompt for a certain project X. Around this paper A arranges three other sheets on which he has written “Dreamer”, Realist” and “Critic”. At some distance [from the other papers, A places a fourth paper labeled] “Meta”. From this meta-position, A can re-arrange the papers. While A stands on the other three papers B helps him evaluate the project as follows: From Dreamer: “Is it worth it?” (access to Vc). From Critic: “Will I cope?” (access to Ad). From Realist: “Is it possible?” (access to K). This usually leads to a triangle around the project, so that the Dreamer, Critic and Realist parts can contribute instead of blocking each other.

Ecology – The coach steers a client consciously through this technique, with the benefit that it is slow enough so that the strategy (of changing perspectives within an isosceles triangle) will not be programmed into A’s unconscious if it might have disadvantages. If the application frame is to strategically play with perspectives and not to reconcile with a part that blocks resourceful access to Vk, Ad or K, then this technique is easy to manage and doesn’t create any problems.

NLP Changing a Strategy

Application – Client’s wish: “I want to do X in a new way.

Short description – For an analysis and evaluation of strategies, please refer to the introduction to Double-Coaching. The minute steps of a strategy, which run in a fraction of a second, are seldom analyzed meticulously, so as to give special attention to the submodalities of interesting representations (together with the corresponding convictions).

However when modeling excellence, this seems to be at least as important as meta-strategies or meta-programs. To change a client’s strategy, a coach should either be an expert in the client’s field or should have modeled experts who have similar strategies to a client’s goal. The coach protects the strategy which the client has used so far: a new strategy step, a change in the sequence of a strategy or changes in the submodalities of single representations should be introduced through chaining trances instead of programming with anchors. Learning something new is easier than unlearning something old.

Ecology – Strategy changework should not change motivation or decision-making, but address rapport, creativity, internal structuring [for understanding] and learning. Motivation and decision making strategies should be changed indirectly through parts-work.

NLP Analyze Value Hierarchies

Application – Client's wish “I want to explore what is important in this context”.

Short description – A client’s value hierarchy is not analyzed with the questions that roam about the NLP scene: “For what would you give up X (to find a higher value)?” “If you already had X, what would still be important?” (to find a lower value) because this way A will cheat himself.

Values which are decisive for acting will surface only if the question is about experiences of happiness (either actual or desired) in a certain context (profession, partnership, ...), since they are pursued unconsciously! This way, a maximum of seven values will be found. It is important to elicit real values instead of getting lost finding the resources needed to achieve the desired happiness.

The discerning questions are: “Do you need Y to achieve something in context X” or “Does Y motivate you to do anything to obtain it?” Afterwards the values are arranged in a hierarchy of importance. In the event of value conflicts, both values are placed side by side. To examine which value is the more important, or if this is really a conflict, two equally horrible [metaphoric] alternatives are offered, in which one of the values is represented fully and the other one not at all.

Ecology – If a client’s values are only analyzed without implementing any changes, making the client’s values conscious is an entirely ecological way to develop meta-questions about conflicts.

NLP Changing Inner Timelines & Balancing Meta-Programs

Application – Client’s wish: “I want to increase my choices.

Short description – The spatial representation (timeline) of both early and recent past experiences and near and far future expectations is analyzed. Some people might not find a line but a completely systematic 3D arrangement. (At least as interesting as the timeline itself are its submodalities.) Then a contract is made with a client’s unconscious so that this timeline is “stored”, so that if an alternative timeline brings nothing useful, a client can, at any time, get back the old one.

Then a client can actively test alternative timelines. The analysis of meta-programs is not described here. Generally it can be said that a special trance-work is best suited for balancing meta-programs, in which a client is introduced to a new Mentor (created by B), who has an alternative meta-program. A client can take from this experience whatever he chooses.

Ecology – I have no objections to the application as described here. However it fits only into a frame in which a client has an unspecified curiosity to explore such new possibilities and is under no pressure to find success.

NLP Belief Change Cycle

Application – Client’s wish: “I want to think about X in a new way.”

Short description– An arc of paper anchors is laid out: “exhibition of new ideas”, “open for beliefs”, “certainty”, “open for doubt” and “cupboard for old ideas”, adding a meta-position of “certainty” to the high point of the arc (and thus as well to its entirety). Without reference to content, a client is led onto the papers and into the respective physiologies.

Now client A can take beliefs about X to the different positions and slowly move the beliefs through the arc, always first introducing new ideas [potential beliefs] and only later parting with old ones [unwanted beliefs]. Procedure: A takes the [belief/idea], reflects, steps to the next paper, puts the idea down.

Ecology – If you compare this to the Disney-Strategy, it is not a client’s approach to X which is emphasized, but the way the client thinks about X. If a client wishes to gain a differentiated perspective about X, this technique works brilliantly. It functions similarly to the Einstein-Integration (mentioned with conflict reframing) as it leads in a similar way to a differentiated perspective. However, this technique cannot change limiting beliefs and the negative emotions linked to them, since it cannot approach simultaneously operating unconscious beliefs.

NLP Submodality Belief Change (Bandler)

Application – Client’s wish: “I want to think about X in a new way.”

Short description – Following the same principle as described above, it is possible to move a belief through the submodalities of the five stations of the Belief Change Cycle (excluding the Meta position).

Ecology – This technique by Bandler is much less ecological than the previous technique (by Dilts). There are three reasons for this.

  1. There is no meta-position for overall evaluation
  2. A new belief is not introduced prior to parting from an old belief
  3. Submodality-shifts generalizes too quickly for a client to notice objections

To my understanding, this Bandler-technique is completely unecological, as are all techniques which analyze the submodalities of A's strategy and then apply them to another content to bring about an emotional change. This is also true for those submodality techniques described by the Andreas’, for example the Compulsion-Blow-Out, Threshold-Pattern and Change of Value Hierarchy through Submodalities.

If such changes would make sense, a person would have made them already, on his own! The lack of ecology of this technique immediately shows if the coach notices the client's non-verbal objections while asking: “So, this belief is now obsolete, correct?” or: “Wouldn’t it be nice, if you were to be rid of this compulsion?” or: “Would you like this value to be more important in your future?

NLP Cleanup Pattern (Bandler)

Application (never) – Client’s wish: “I want to get rid of unwanted behaviors without thinking about them.”

Short description – As this model (by Bandler) is an apex of unecological techniques, I give it special attention. Here is a hypnotic strategy-installation, by which unwanted behaviors are unconsciously represented in the submodalities of obsolete behaviors. Afterwards, a client listens how behaviors which have been discarded fall, one after another, into a “garbage bin”. Only then is “something dynamic” put in place of the old problems, by applying the submodalities of a [desired] future behavior.

Ecology – The explanations which were given to “Belief Change with Submodalities” apply here, with a few thoughts. Astoundingly, this “Clean-Up-Pattern” may work - the unconscious may signal “Yes” as a sign that it will co-operate. Yet this technique only works if a client is deeply convinced that his unconscious – or he himself – is so stupid that he cannot do this on his own, and cease behaviors which have no advantage.

It seems that an unconscious part expects to benefit from the client pretending to be able to change so rapidly. However that doesn’t mean that other parts won’t later object that the client has replaced one or more (in some way) functional behaviors, with “something dynamic”.

© Annegret Hallanzy 1994-2017 All rights reserved

Part 1 - NLP Resource Techniques

Annegret Hallanzy . Client Abuse by Therapists . Student Abuse by Trainers

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
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Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2017 All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email