Neuro-Linguistic Programming
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by Jeff Napier, copyright 2011-2013

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A Typical Session with a Professional Practitioner

You may decide to visit a professional NLP practitioner for a number of reasons. NLP is especially good at helping with indecision, procrastination, mild depression, lack of confidence, and relationship issues, NLP can be useful in addiction situations, and has even been known to help in some health issues. An NLP practitioner can help you find your own answers when faced with a tough decision, and can let you discover what blocks are in your way of success and happiness. You might go to a practitioner with a very specific issue, such as "Should I open another branch store?" Or, it could be very general, such as "I really don't know what I want to do with my life." You may be asked to go to a practitioner by someone else such a spouse who is at wits end trying to get better communication, or a boss who is dealing with poisonous office politics. 

When you go to an NLP practitioner, what happens?

I will describe a typical session. Keep in mind that NLP is a very flexible system, so your session may be quite different, but you'll probably recognize the skeleton of it in this session.

The practitioner starts with rapport. You probably won't notice as the practitioner calibrates the way you speak, your metaprograms, and even your posture, and makes an effort to act in similar ways. This calms your critter brain, and makes it easier for the practitioner to communicate on subjects you might otherwise not be willing to visit.

What you may notice is the outcome frame. It is a standardized set of questions that help get beyond the surface, and bring into focus the areas in which you are most likely suffering to some degree.

The first question is, "What would you like?" 

Then, in any sequence, you may hear, 

"What will having that do for you?"

"How will you know when you have it?"

"When, where and with whom would you like to have it?"

"How will it affect significant people in your life?"

"When you have it, what might you loose that you value?"

These last two questions are "ecology checks." The word "ecology" in NLP refers to the things that a person will let interfere with what they want. Ecology is such a big subject in itself that books could be written about it, but the general idea is that the programmer will typically help you shape a desired outcome that takes ecology into account. For instance, you might hate your job, but the ecology is that you don't want to quit because you'd hate not making money even more. So the programmer helps you find ways change your job, or your attitude about your job, while still making money. 

As the programmer has been helping you discover an attainable, well-formed outcome, some things are happening in the background.

The programmer will be showing you lots of respect from the first moment. But, he is also respecting your present state. It is better than what it replaced. Sometimes just knowing what's good about your present state is a good place to start. The programmer will offer reframes. These are statements that turn things around, so you can see things in entirely new ways. For instance, "What good things come to a person who isn't good at making decisions?" As the programmer is guiding you toward your own well-formed outcome, she may also be offering some metaphors or stories. As a client, you might find the reframes and stories quite weird, unexpected, out of place. And some will be. But others can have remarkable effect.

The programmer is also watching your physiology, especially your eyes, noticing in which directions you look as you access thoughts and memories. 

At some point, typically an ecology question, and often specifically, "What stops you?" the programmer will suddenly interrupt, and ask you to point your eyes in a certain direction. At that point, you'll be asked to describe what you're seeing, hearing, or feeling, and old, long forgotten memories are likely to appear. This is called "eliciting an eye access." Typically the eye access will bring you to a time when you were much younger, called regression. 

There are other ways to get to regression, and some programmers in some situations, such as a phone-based session, will use another technique. A common one is called "trans-derivational search" or "TD search."

The programmer will then assist you in stepping more fully into the time you were a child, and were forming beliefs about yourself or the world. Often these are "limiting beliefs," that even today, so many years later, affect your behavior, or limit your choices in significant ways. 

If all has gone well, the programmer now has a pretty clear idea of your present state, your desired state, and an isomorphic relationship between those states and your limiting belief.  So, it is time for reimprinting. This is a guided process of allowing you to understand the limitation of the belief, come up with a better belief, and install that new belief as an option in your mental processes. 

You may notice the programmer doing some anchoring. The most common form of anchoring is well-timed squeezes of your arm. This helps align an external stimulus with a part of your conversation, so that your subconscious mind will recognize the parts the programmer wants you to recognize at the times she wants them recognized. 

All along the process, the programmer will be watching your physiology, checking for ecology issues, and always working with utmost respect for you and your situation. 

The programmer will future pace. This means, she'll have you step into a future version of yourself, and determine how well the new you fits. Future pacing not only helps the programmer see if the session worked, but also helps solidify your new state. It's a bit like making a salad. Sure, you can eat it right away, but the finishing touch of adding salad dressing makes it so much better. 

At this point, you may be done, or there may be some ecology still to be dealt with, so part of the process may be looped through again.

You will not have noticed, but you have been in a light hypnotic trance for much of the session, probably starting around the time of eliciting the eye access. The programmer will help you come smoothly back to the here and now, and after some light chit-chat, the session is all done. 

If you're done ahead of time, the programmer may do a bit more ecology work, offer another metaphor or two to cement in the work a bit more, or may help with something else, such as a quick fix of a phobia

What I just described is a typical session. However, there are many variables. Some programmers prefer to mix in other modalities such as Bert Hellinger's Family Inheritance work, the Work of Byron Katie, hypnotherapy, business coaching, and so on. For some of his clients, your editor doesn't do regression at all, but works more in a mode they're more comfortable with - specifically, more in the realm of metaphorical storytelling and hypnotic suggestion. Other programmers might be aghast at the idea of not using regression every time. We each have our own styles. You may be asked to walk backward along an imagined timeline, step into an imagined or real circle, move your eyes in certain directions, or imagine yourself acting in complex scenarios such as a meeting or movie with strange characters, such as the parts of your body. This is all NLP, and the programmer has a wonderfully large kit of tools from which to select what's right for you and your situation.

Have fun! - Jeff