The Strategies Model suggests thoughts are sequential in nature and a person thinks about one thing at a time leading to an outcome or to motivation. These thoughts are formulated based on visual (V), auditory (A), kinesthetic (K), olfactory (O), or gustatory (G) information.  When eliciting someone’s strategy or process, the purpose is to determine how he or she composes this VAKOG phenomenon on the way to the results they experience. The first step is to evaluate what sensory input is involved in the decision and in what order the information is processed.  Once known, changes can be made to elicit more adaptive patterns.

Hypothetical Client
Jayson is a 21-year old man who makes an appointment with a coach because he has been hired as a sales consultant for a large company. He feels as if this is an excellent opportunity and he wants to do well. However, even though he has successfully completed the training, he remains nervous about talking to clients.

During the first session, my goals are to:
1. Build Rapport – I observe Jayson’s eye accessing cues and listen to his predicate phrases. His primary representational system is visual. So, I ask visual questions such as “What do you see yourself doing five years from now?” and “Can you imagine what it would be like to be a successful sales consultant?” We both belong to a gym, so, we share a common interest, which makes building rapport fairly easy.

2. Identify the positive intent of the behavior – Jayson says the positive intent of his nervousness is to make sure he makes a positive impression on his bosses.

3. Complete the Logical Levels exercise

The information gained during the exercise provides a clear understanding of what Jayson wants to achieve and where best to intervene. His answers are as follows:

Jayson: Wherever I making a sales presentation to a prospective client.

Jayson: I get nervous and stumble over my words.

 & Skills Level
Jayson: I know the product well. I have successfully completed the training and I want to do well.

Beliefs Level
Jayson: I have never done anything like this before, it is all somewhat foreign to me, and I don’t have all the skills to do the job as well as I want.

Identity Level
Jayson: I am a young man who is not very worldly.

I decide to intervene at the Beliefs level and ask Meta model questions to transform problematic vagueness, such as, “You have never done anything like this – ever?”, “What skills do you think are missing?” and “How is the work somewhat foreign to you?

First I want to create an anchor for Jayson.
Choose a feeling or state.
Jayson – The feeling he wants to work on is anxiety when meeting with a client.
Think of a time when a preferred state occurred and anchor that feeling by connecting it to a specific physical action.
Jayson – The preferred state he wants to access is the confidence he felt when he won first place in a golf tournament and he anchored that feeling by touching his thumbs together.

Go to a neutral place.

Jayson – Focused on the wind in the trees outside the window.
Test the connection to determine whether or not the preferred feeling occurs.
If the new feeling is not strong enough, repeat the process until it elicits the feeling or try a different physical or visual anchor.
Jayson – Repeated the anchor process several times until he felt the confidence.

Strategies Model
Once the anchor is in place a possible approach is the Strategies Model.  Jayson says his process is as follows: He sees the client coming towards, hears the questions asked, sees the customer’s waiting for the answer, feels fear and chokes up. This VAKOG pattern leads him to feel anxious and forget what he knows.

I guided him to create a different VAKOG pattern as he thinks about making the sale. Instead, when he sees the client, he takes a deep breath, puts his thumbs together, and pictures his anchor of confidence. This VAKOG pattern offers him other choices.

Future Pace
I always like to future pace what has been taught. So, I asked Jayson to think of situations which could arise where he would feel the anxiety, instructed him to use the anchor, and practice the new pattern to see what or if adjustments must be made.

This is one approach to working with the issue of anxiety.

An Extra Logical Levels Exercise

The Logical Levels process is a valuable NLP tool which can be used to organize one’s thinking. The practitioner can use it as a model to identify where difficulties lie and to help a client understand in a clear and structured manner where he or she is stuck. The lowest level is environment and the highest level is identity; each level builds on previous levels.

A person’s self-esteem, sense of self, and with what they identify.This can include identifying with one’s job, marriage, or religion. However, identify can also include how the person’s interprets events in terms of personal self-worth.

Whether a person believes something is possible or impossible, whether they believe it is necessary or unnecessary, whether or not they feel motivated about it.

Whether or not a person has innate capabilities and/or learned skills for dealing appropriately with an issue.

The external behavior can include what an observer would see or hear or feel when the individual is engaged in a particular activity.

The: the people and places that an individual interacts with and responds to, when they are engaged in a particular activity.

The Logical Levels process can be used with a client as a way to organize thinking, gather information, and communicate. The process helps establish an understanding of what makes a person “tick.”  When looking for reasons why change is not occurring, it can be helpful to look at a person’s neurological levels as a way of determining exactly where a block is located and where it would be most effective to intervene.

Hypothetical Case using the Logical Levels Exercise:

Gregg came to see an NLP Practitioner because of his nervousness in making presentations.

Environment Level – refers to what is around the person when the behavior occurs. 
Gregg:  I get nervous every time I give a presentation either for a small or a large group.

Behavior Level – refers to what the person does.
Gregg:  I break out in a cold sweat, stutter, and can barely say the words.

Capability Level – refers to what a person is able to do.
 Gregg: I know the material; I am conversant in one-to-one meetings but not in front of groups.

Belief Level – refers to what a person thinks he or she can or should do. 
Gregg: I should be able to do this; I know the products and I have taken speaking classes. I shouldn’t be nervous, but I always am.

Identity Level – refers to what a person thinks of him or herself.
  Gregg: I want to excel at my job, speaking is part of the job, and I just can’t do it comfortably.

One option is to intervene at the Environment Level where I could provide Gregg with ways to manage the anxiety or we could role play the speaking engagements.. But, because I knew that intervening at a higher level affects the lower levels, I chose to focus on the Belief Level instead. At the Belief Level, Gregg thinks “he should be able to make the presentations and he shouldn’t be nervous.” If his thinking at that Level were reframed to the belief “nervousness is a good sign, it keeps me sharp and provides information, that shift might open the door to further possibilities and additional NLP strategies.

A Sample Coaching Session

In this article, I want to explore how a coach, counselor, or therapist can apply NLP strategies when working with a client.

Jim has a drinking problem. When his fiancée unexpectedly called off their wedding, he was devastated. Since then, he occasionally asked women out, but they either declined or ended the relationship after a few dates. Over time, he basically gave up – even though his greatest dream was to be married and have a family.

Six months ago, he agreed to attend a party with a friend. During the evening, he had several drinks and discovered that he was funny. He received lots of attention and talked with a couple of women who seemed interested in him. This success encouraged him to be more social – he even had a dinner date and he also began drinking more often.  He is convinced that alcohol allows him to relax and be more natural around women.

Jim is also aware the drinking is negatively impacting his life; he missed several days of work, skipped a couple of appointments, and ignored old friends who are genuinely concerned about his change in behavior. So, he came to see me, a therapist certified as an NLP Master Practitioner.

With every client, I begin by:

Building rapport – observing eye cues and predicate phrases as well as matching and mirroring the client’s physical movements and tonality.

Identifying the positive intent of a behavior.

Completing the Outcome Specification process and exploring Logical Levels. The information provides me with a clear understanding of what the client wants to achieve and where best to intervene. It also helps me develop a purpose-driven course of action and identify strategies which would be less than helpful.

Asking Meta Model questions to transform problematic vagueness in thinking.

As we talk, Jim’s eyes move left and right; his predicate phrases include words like “I heard,” and “they listened,” which leads me to consider that his representational system is primarily auditory. So, I use statements such as “it sounds like learning communication skills would be helpful,” and “I hear sadness in your voice.” I also match the volume and speed of his voice. Rapport is established quickly.

Jim says the positive intent of drinking is to feel comfortable meeting and dating women. He really wants a girlfriend and ultimately a wife and family.

By asking “how can I help, specifically?” I am deliberately vague, so he will interpret what was said in a way that has meaning for him personally.

During the Outcome Specification process, Jim’s responses are as follows:

His goal is to feel comfortable with a woman without having a drink.

He will know he reached the goal when he can do that.

The goal is relevant a) financially – he doesn’t want to lose his job and b) health-wise – he is sure that he will become an alcoholic like his father if he keeps on this path.

Jim is reluctant to pursue the goal because he really wants to feel comfortable around a woman. This seems impossible without drinking first. He says his fiancée took his self-confidence when she left and drinking gives him courage.

He has a strong will and wants to stop drinking before it becomes a major problem.
Additional resources he wants include learning effective communication skills, motivation to stop drinking, and self-confidence.

His friends will be pleased. They are concerned. His job will be safe. His health will be good. He sees no risks, other than that he strongly believes he won’t be able to have a relationship with a woman unless he has a drink first.

Daily actions he can take:
a) practicing communication and socialization skills; maybe role playing conversations
b) saying no to alcoholic beverages.

Determine a plan he can live with and decide whether or not in-patient treatment should be considered.
It is definitely worth the effort.

In conducting the Logical levels exercise, Jim’s responses are as follows:

Environment Level
– refers to what is around us when the behavior occurs. 
Jim: When I am talking to a woman.

Behavior Level – refers to what we do.
 Jim:  I need a drink before I feel talking with her.

Capability Level – refers to what we are able to do.
 Jim: I can afford the drinks. I can talk to women easily when I have had a gin and tonic.

Belief Level – refers to what we think we can or should do.
Jim: The only way I can carry on a conversation with a woman is to have a drink first.

Identity Level – refers to what we think we are. 
Jim: I am a man who wants to get married and have a family, but was wounded when my fiancée called off our wedding and am afraid of getting hurt again.

One option is to intervene at the Environment Level – teaching Jim to limit his drinks and stay away from situations where liquor is available. Instead, I chose to focus on the Belief Level. If his thinking changed to the belief “I really can carry on a conversation with a woman without having a drink first, I just have to learn some new strategies,” he might consider other possibilities.

There are nine Meta Model distinctions. I challenged Jim on four:

– an individual selectively pays attention to certain dimensions in our experience while excluding others.
Jim said “he can’t do that now; he has to have a drink to relax.”
I asked “can’t do what?” or “can’t do what with whom?” or “what would happen if he could?

Cause and effect – the implication that one thing causes or is caused by another.
Jim said “she took my confidence away.”
I asked: “How exactly did she do that?” or “How did that one event take away your confidence?”

Generalizations – an individual’s learned model of an aspect of the world comes to represent the larger category of which the experience is an example.
Jim said “he knows he will become an alcoholic as his father was.”
I asked “How do you know that?” or “Why does your father’s alcoholism have to do with you?”

Mind reading – believing one knows the thoughts, feelings, intentions of others with no basis in reasonable, logical, grounds for interpretation or direct observation.
Jim said he “talked with a couple of women who seemed interested in him after he had a drink.”
I asked “Are you sure that is the case?” or “So, they won’t be interested if you haven’t had a drink first?”

Using the Meta Model questions, I clarified Jim’s responses to the Outcome Specification practice and the Logical Levels exercise.  This information allowed me to obtain a clear understanding of the issues and set a foundation for determining which strategies will be most effective.


When a person is upset about an unpleasant experience, the feeling may not be based on what is happening externally but on the meaning attached to it internally.  So, we want to encourage clients to change the meaning of an experience in a way that allows them to rethink their initial response to it.

Reframing is based on that premise. To reframe something is to change its meaning by putting it in a different setting, context, or frame. Just as we can change our response to a piece of art by placing it in a different frame, we can change our response to an experience by looking at it from a different perspective – effectively reframing the experience.

A perfect example occurred recently. The online class I was assigned to teach was canceled. My first response was disappointment. My reframe was “I am disappointed about not teaching the class, but I now have more time to write articles and develop my website.”

Maria makes an appointment with an NLP practitioner because she is not able to control her drinking as much as she would like. She is a real estate agent and likes to meet with clients over a glass of wine after showing them a house. Her plan is to answer questions about the property for an hour and then leave.

Invariably, though, she orders more drinks and spends the evening chatting with them. Maria is embarrassed about the excessive drinking and furious with herself for “wasting” time.

When asked what else her behavior could mean, she replied the chatting is an attempt to build a relationship with the client and improve her chances of making the sale. Once she understood the positive intent of the drinking, we were able to discuss other more acceptable options. One strategy that may be effective is to the Six- Step reframe.

Identify the problem behavior.
MARIA:  The problem behavior is drinking too much when meeting with clients.

Identify the positive intention behind the behavior.
MARIA:  The positive intent of the behavior is to further build rapport with the client and ultimately to sell the house.

Ask “if there were other ways of accomplishing this positive intention, would you be interested in discovering them?”
MARIA:  Yes!

Brainstorm other ways of building rapport with a client and making a sale without drinking too much. 
MARIA: I could meet clients at a place where alcohol is not served, such as Starbucks.
We could stay at the house a little longer and go nowhere.
I could establish boundaries with the bartender ahead of time. For example, my instructions might be to serve only one glass of wine per adult when I come in with clients.
I could develop a checklist. Completion of all items on the list would be a signal to end the meeting.
I could schedule a hypothetical appointment directly afterward, which would be an excuse to leave.
I could hire a coach. A coach would teach me better management skills and ways to explore additional options.

Identify at least three new choices from the list.
MARIA: I like the idea of working with a coach. I can set a limit with the bartender ahead of time and I can schedule another appointment, even if it is with my cat.

Conduct an Ecology Check or in other words, examine objections and assess for commitment.
MARIA:  There are no objections. I can still meet with the client over a glass of wine after showing them a house and learn to manage myself better.  This feels like a win-win.

This is one way to use the strategies of reframing, positive intention, and the six-step reframe.

Psychological Attachments and the A-H-A Solution

Many therapeutic approaches are less than effective because they don’t access the root of the problem. If you think of a presenting problem as a weed, your limiting beliefs, behaviors and emotions can be thought of as the stem and leaves. If the root is not pulled out, the weed returns. NLP practitioners address the root of the problem, which they refer to as a psychological attachment. Like strong habits psychological attachments are:
– consistent
– expected
– related to childhood
– definitive
– safe and satisfying
– familiar
– unconscious

The three primary attachments are to control, deprivation, and rejection. However, there can be others.

With an attachment to control – Individuals have a tendency to feel controlled even though they resent being controlled and unwittingly behave in ways that encourage others to correct and monitor their behavior. Subcategories include The Rebel, The Helpless Child, The Obesessor, and The Go-Along

With an attachment to deprivation – Individuals have a tendency to feel unfulfilled in life. They fill the void with unfulfilling behaviors such as an addiction. Subcategories include The Martyr, The Craver, The Worrier and The Numb

With an attachment to rejection – Individuals have a tendency to feel hurt, rejected or criticized while unconsciously or unwittingly doing things that invite rejection or criticism.
Subcategories include the Perfectionist, The Joker, The People Pleaser, and The Self-Defeater

Attachments can be interactive. A People Pleaser may give others control and deprive the self as a means of seeking approval.

Hypothetical Case Working with Psychological Attachments

Will is a 43 year-old male who makes an appointment with me, an NLP Coach, to discuss his obsessive worrying: worrying that has become much worse over the years. HIs specific reason for making the appointment now is that he doesn’t want to ruin his new relationship. He has been divorced twice and is currently dating Teresa, a widow he met on line. They are discussing the possibility of living together and getting married. However, Will is worried Teresa will become disenchanted with him and leave as his wives did.

The First Session
During the first session, my goals were to:

Build Rapport – I observed Will’s eye accessing cues and listened to his predicate phrases. His primary representational system was auditory. So, I asked auditory questions such as “What do you tell yourself about this relationship?” and “What does she tell you?” We both play golf, so, we share a common interest, which makes building rapport fairly easy.

Identify the positive intent of the behavior. 
Will: “The positive intent of my worry is to protect myself from being hurt again.

Complete the Logical Levels and Outcome Specification exercises – Information gained from the exercises provided a clear understanding of what Will wanted to achieve and helped me develop a purpose-driven course of action.

Ask Meta Model questions – These questions helped me transform his problematic vagueness.

I guided Will through several NLP strategies such as the As-If-Frame, Anchors, and the Formula for Manifesting. While the strategies were somewhat successful, I decided to dig deeper, because his worries were deeply held.

Based on information learned from the Outcome Specification and Logical Levels, I determined that Will was attached to deprivation and more specifically he would be categorized as a worrier. He feels undeserving, trusts his happiness will not last, expects disappointment, has an inability to enjoy the moment, and sets unrealistic goals.

One strategy for resolving Will’s worry regarding his relationship is to conduct the A-H-A solution worksheet.

The Situation:
Will worries that his relationship with Teresa, the woman he cares about deeply, will fall apart.

Will’s “Attachment” thoughts are:
She will dump me.
She will get tired of me just as my wives did
I don’t deserve such a good woman.
I have two failed marriages, why should this relationship work?
Will’s “Healthy” thoughts might include:
Maybe you learned something from the previous marriages.
She certainly seems to care for you.
Why not just enjoy the time you have together, for now?

Will’s possible ways he to respond were:
I could walk away from the relationship.
I could talk to her about my fears.
I could tell her I am not interested any longer.
I could just wait and see.

Will decided to talk to Theresa regarding his concerns.

He talked with Teresa, who admitted to experiencing concerns as well. They decided to move forward and continue to discuss their relationship and their doubts.

The worksheet provided a solution for the presenting worry problem and a tool for addressing other anxieties as they arose for him, too.

Process Instructions Exercise

You can use the process instructions exercise to guide someone or yourself through a valuable experience without having any idea of what the content of the experience will be.

The steps are as follows:
Relax/go internal.
Access some past experience that has some emotion attached to – what do you see feel, hear.
Dissociate – different point of view – see self as if in a movie to gain a broader perspective.
Learn something from the experience.
Apply the learning to a future context.
Come back to the present.

This was my experience when doing the process instructions exercise.
I found a quiet place to relax and let my mind drift to a past experience which still bothered me without having any preconceived idea of what it might be.  The memory was of an evening when my son and his friend were out sailing on the river and dumped the sailboat. They righted the boat, gathered the gear, returned to the dock safely, and dealt with the situation successfully. After he told me about his adventure, I reacted by yelling and grounding him. However, in looking back, I realized the boys handled the situation well, they were not hurt, the boat was not damaged and this is the way my Mother would have responded.

My take away was that a) I didn’t want to respond as my Mother would, and b) a better way of responding would have been to discuss what happened and what worked, what could have been done differently, and what lessons were learned; so, a similar situation was less likely to happen in the future.

This was an AHA moment for me. I made the decision to parent my children differently than my brother and I were parented.

If I were working with a client, my goal would be to guide him or her through the process.

DMN, New Behavior Generator, and Future Pacing

In this article, we will discuss a hypothetical case in which the default mode network (DMN) and the New Behavior Generator strategies are used with a client.

Beth is a 55-year-old woman with an established marketing career. Her children are grown and her partner is the CFO of a successful company. Financially, they are comfortable. She recently retired after 30 years in the marketing field. Since then, she spends more and more time playing tennis and touring wineries with friends. While the drinking is not a problem, she wants to be involved in activities more meaningful to her.

Beth came to see me, an NLP Master Practitioner, because she wants to develop an online consulting business. In fact, this business has been her dream for years. She has attempted to develop the website numerous times without success. However, her many excuses for not starting the project and her doubts that she can be successful stop her every time.

As with every client in the initial session, I did the following:
Built rapport.
Identified the positive intent of the behavior.
Conducted the Outcome Specification and the Logical Level exercises as an assessment.
Asked Meta Model Questions to clarify vagueness.
Planned a strategy to move forward.

Her goal is to create a successful online consulting business.

She will achieve her goal when she has five paying clients.

The goal is relevant in several ways: she will be happier, she will be involved in a productive endeavor, and she will feel good about herself.

Her fears and doubts about being successful stop her from pursuing her goal. She is plagued with thoughts like “I don’t know how to develop a website,” “I might fail,” and “the website might not be good enough to draw clients.”

Current resources include her years of experience, money and time to invest in the project, and a supportive husband.

Necessary additional resources include a website developer, a marketing plan, and improved communication skills.

The important people in her life would be thrilled even if it took her time and energy because she would be happy.

Daily actions she must take are to work on a plan, learn better communication skills, and manage her negative self-talk.

She thinks the goal is worth it, despite knowing the website will take enormous time and effort.
She says the positive intent of her reluctance to develop the website is her fear of failing.


Environment Level – refers to what is around her when the behavior occurs. 
Beth: When I sit at the computer ready to create my website.

Behavior Level – refers to what she does.
Beth:  I sit at the computer and think of things I “should” do such as exercise or call a friend.  I also think of all the reasons why this project will never work.

Capability Level refers to what she is able to do.
Beth: I have time. I want a website and online business. I have years of experience and plenty of good ideas.  I can work from home.

Belief Level – refers to what she thinks she can or should do. 
Beth: I want a website, but something always gets in the way.

Identity Level – refers to who she thinks she is. 
Beth: I am a successful business woman who is afraid to start something new.

I chose to work with Beth at the Belief Level because once her beliefs change, the Capabilities Level, the Behavior Level, and the Environment Level will likely change as well. Two strategies, I can use with her are the Default Mode Network (DMN) and the New Behavior Generator. However there are many other possibilities.

The default mode network (DMN) is an internal network in the brain that continually generates a wealth of mental activity and body tension. When the “task-oriented” brain is not focused on solving a problem, the DMN works overtime. While it does not filter information or attempt to protect a person in any way, it does generate endless mental and emotional data, as well as negative and scary thoughts.

To disengage the DMN, we use two NLP forms: the Stressor Map and The New Awareness Map.  I asked Beth to write the word “Website” at the top of the Stressor Map and, then, to record every thought and idea that came to mind as she thought about developing the website. She wrote the following:

I’m not knowledgable enough to create a website.
The website will take energy.
I don’t know how.
The website won’t be special enough.
The project will cost money.
I have money.
I have done similar work for years.
I do have experience.
My husband supports me.
I don’t want to use my time wine tasting and playing tennis.
I want to see if I can do it.
I might fail.
The website has been a long time dream.
I have no plan.
It will take a lot of time and energy.
I am tired and too old to start something new.
I don’t want to be that busy.
I might succeed.
I won’t be happy if I don’t try.
I might do it wrong.

After she completed her thoughts, I asked Beth to look out the window and focus on the movement of the water on the lake. This external stimulus created a break state and cleansed her mind. Then, I asked her to write the word “Website” at the top of the New Awareness Map and to record the thoughts and ideas that now came to mind. Beth was surprised to find she had very different, more positive thoughts. Her responses were as follows:

I could dedicate a certain amount of time and money to develop the project.
I could research what has worked for others and what has not.
It would be fun to try.
I could hire a coach and a website designer to help me get started.
I could do my best for a year and see what happens.
If I don’t give it a solid try, I will be disappointed in myself.
My husband and my former colleagues have plenty of experience from which to draw.
I am not necessarily ready to go, but there are several pieces already in place.

Based on her new thinking, Beth decided to break the project into chunks and enlist help in the areas where she felt weak. I also guided her through the New Behavior Generator.

Beth’s Responses to the New Behavior Generator
Identity the “stuck state.”
Beth:  My stuck state is avoiding my long held dream of having an online business.

Guide her to consider the stuck state from a dissociated view point. This is achieved by Beth seeing the “stuck Beth” as a neutral observer watching a movie.
From this dissociated state I asked her to identify several choices she could take. 
Beth determined she could:
– Set aside an hour or two daily to work on the project.
– Hire a coach to help her develop a plan and learn communication skills.
– Hire a website developer to design the website.
– Give up the whole idea.
– Learn to develop the website herself.
– Take the first step and see what happens.

With each alternative, I asked the ecology question:  “What would happen if you incorporated this option into the stuck state situation?”
Beth:  She did not want to give up the idea nor did she want to develop the website. She could see herself setting aside an hour or two daily to work on the project.  She wanted to continue to work with me as a coach and to hire a website developer.

Have her step into each image and picture using the possible options.
BETH: After stepping into each image, she realized that she needed to make a plan to move forward. This would be her First Step.

Finally, I guided Beth to Future Pace. I instructed her to:
Picture possible future situations in which she might talk herself out of working on the site. For instance, her friend asks her to play tennis, she gets discouraged with the process, the bird cage needs cleaning, or she wants to give up.

Imagine stepping into each situation – by seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and/or tasting what she would experience if the new skills were in place.

Notice whether or not the change holds, and whether or not she responded the way she wanted to respond.
Beth felt that besides plan development, she could learn motivation strategies and communication skills during our coaching sessions. She also thought, the website developer’s ideas would build enthusiasm for the project.

As a starting point, I taught Beth about anchors. I suggested she think of a time when she completed a project and felt pride and confidence. I instructed her to anchor the feeling by pressing the fingers of her left hand to her lips. We repeated the anchor several times until the feeling of accomplishment was strong.

Finally, I had her Future Pace and think of times where she might get distracted and then use the anchor.

These are strategies I might use, but there are many other possibilities.


Katya was a 19 year old college student who came to see me because she was 25 pounds overweight and couldn’t stop eating. She didn’t want to be like her mother who was obese. My goal was to motivate her to change her eating habits using NLP strategies of which we will discuss a few. When I asked what the positive intent of the overeating might be, Katya admitted she ate to relieve stress and to be social.

One of my first steps was to assess how she motivated herself. Based on her presenting problem, I determined that she was moving away from stress and being lonely.

Furthermore, according to Steve and Connierae Andreas,   Katya was a:

Negative motivator – She imagined the horrible consequences of not doing something about her weight gain before it was totally out of control.

The Dictator – She gave herself orders to stop overeating. She said to herself “I should stop,” and “I can’t gain any more weight.”

Overwhelmer – Her goal was to lose 25 pounds, which seemed unsurmountable.

The first step was to break the goal down into several smaller ones – like losing a couple of pounds a month or whatever was reasonable for her.

Another strategy I used was the Swish Pattern. The Swish Pattern allows the person to replace a negative image with a more positive, motivating one. The steps are as follows:
1. Identify the unwanted behavior or habit.

2. Define and recognize a cue image, or reminder that can be used when the unwanted behavior occurs.

3. Recall a desired self-image that is more compelling than the image triggering the unwanted behavior.

4. Check ecology to see if any part of the mind objects to adopting the new image.

5. Do a “swish” by remembering the problem behavior cue image and locating a small dark picture of the desired compelling self-image in the corner of the mind.

6. Make the Swish by rapidly decreasing and darkening the cue image and simultaneously making the desired self-image larger and brighter.

7. Test by thinking of the cue image for the problem state and noticing what happens. If the swish is effective, the desired self-image will immediately replace the old one, resulting in a change of state and loss of desire for going to casinos.

Katya’s “unwanted behavior” was overeating. The cue image was her eating a piece of chocolate cake. The desired self-image she chose was standing on a scale and seeing her desired weight of 120 lbs. In doing the ecology check, there were no objections, and the swish was made.  It took several attempts until she immediately accessed the new image, but it did happen and she was excited about the image of her new weight. The real test will be the next time she wants to eat a piece of cake and whether or not the image of her new weight will elicit a different choice. If it doesn’t we will work on alternative images or strengthening the one she chose.

Lastly, I asked Katya to future pace. She identified situations where she might overeat such as
• Studying with classmates.
• A friend offering her a piece of pie.
• Walking by a bakery.

She pictured each situation and swished it with the image of her weight on the scale. Katya felt fairly confident that she could say no in each situation.

This gave her a couple of strategies to begin with, but more in-depth and/or additional work may be required.

How to Build Rapport using NLP

If the relationship between the NLP coach or counselor and the client is not strong, if rapport is not established, effective counseling or coaching is less likely to occur.

Building rapport with clients
Clients can be distrusting and unwilling to commit to counseling; some more than others. While it is true that creating the client-counselor relationship can be challenging; this relationship is critical to future success. Such a relationship occurs naturally when people share common interests and mannerisms. These connections can be enhanced by understanding eye-accessing patterns and predicate phrases.

Eye accessing clues and predicate phrases
Accessing clues typically refer to eye movement and indicate the sensory representational system a person uses to acquire information. In other words, we are talking about how a human mind processes and stores information. The primary representational systems are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. If a person’s primary representational system is visual, a phrase like “I see what you mean” tends to make him feel heard. Similarly, when a person’s primary representational system is auditory, a phrase like “I hear what you say” tends to make her feel understood. Voice tone, breathing patterns, and posture also provide cues.

Visual, auditory, kinesthetic and auditory words are known as predicate phrases. Predicate phrases can offer hints to a person’s preferred representational system. Comments such as “I pictured something different” or “his words didn’t sound very encouraging” provide information. When these eye accessing and verbal cues are observed and duplicated, a subconscious message is conveyed that “we” are similar. In addition to connecting with a person’s primary representational system, rapport can be built in other ways such as matching and mirroring.

Matching and Mirroring
According to NLP, when people are similar to each other, they are more apt to like each other. So, matching and mirroring can be an effective tool in building rapport. Matching is doing exactly what another person does. Mirroring is doing it in reverse.

Five ways to match or mirror are as follows:
1. Physical actions – If the person crosses his or her legs, then, cross your legs.
2. Speaking tone, volume, and tempo – If a person speaks softly and quickly; then, speak softly and quickly.
3. Breathing – Matching another person’s breathing allows someone to create an internal experience of what the person is feeling.
4. Chunk size – If a person discusses specific details or is vague, do the same.
5. Common experience – A common interest tends to create a feeling of closeness.

Very reluctantly, Jennifer made an appointment to see me, an NLP Practioner, because none of the other counselors understood her problems. She doesn’t really think I can help, but a friend was pleased with the results of our sessions and wouldn’t take no for an answer. So, Jennifer acquiesced; however, she obviously didn’t want to be here and had little confidence in my ability to help end her years’ long problematic binging. Building rapport quickly was essential.

I began by asking questions such as:
a) what were the pros and cons of working with the other therapists?
b) What goals would she like to pursue with me?
c) What could each of us do to make this experience more successful and different from the others?

I listened to Jennifer’s predicate phrases during the discussion. The predicate phrases helped me determine her primary processing system.  She said “my friend told me you were very good” and “other therapists didn’t understand my problems.”

I observed her eye movements to gain additional information. During the discussion her eyes moved from left (AR) to right (AC). She also looked down and to her left which suggested she was talking to herself in her own voice (AD). Clearly, her primary representational system was auditory.  I used phrases like “having sound judgment” and “being in tune with her feelings.” My goal was to talk to her in ways that made her feel as if she were heard.

If Jennifer had been a visual person, she might have made statements like “I saw my mother as being controlling” or “I saw no solution to my problem.  Her eye cues would be up and to the left and right. Given that information, questions, I might ask include “In hindsight what would you have liked other therapists to do?”, “From your perspective, did it seem as if other counselors were uncaring?” or “What is your vision of the ideal counselor?”

Jennifer would have looked down and to her right and made statements like “I feel as if no one understands” or “this problem feels unsurmountable” if her primary representational system was  kinesthetic.

Rapport could also be built by matching Jennifer: a) if she talked softly and slowly, I would do the same,  b) if she were detailed about her story; I would ask for additional details or c) if she mentioned loving a certain food, I would talk about restaurants or compare recipes.

You will know rapport is established:
• By watching how she reacts to you and what you are saying.
• By pacing and leading – when she is speaking very quickly, do the same to begin with; then slow   down; when she follows your lead, you can ascertain rapport has been established.

Once the relationship has been established, addressing Jennifer’s presenting problem can begin. However, it may be that she will drift away during sessions and a return to rapport building will be necessary.

Decision Strategies and VAK

Life is a process of decisions.  Some we agonize over and some come automatically. The truth is that every action we take from when to sneeze to which career path we want to pursue is decided upon consciously or unconsciously. Using visual, auditory, and kinesthetic information s to make a decision is such a great strategy.

I can give you examples from my own life.

BAD DECISION – a couple of years ago we bought a new car. The salesman was polite. He answered all of our questions, provided a wealth of information, and give us a price within our budget (A). The car looked expensive and had every feature we were looking form plus many additional ones (V).  When I drove the car, I didn’t feel comfortable (K). However, the car was very nice, it looked good, my husband liked it, and I told myself I could adjust. Wrong decision – the car was too big for me, I never felt comfortable driving it, and therefore drive very little.  So, while the three VAK components provided information, I chose to ignore the K and paid the price.

GOOD DECISION – Recently, we had to have our 16 year old cat Missy put to sleep and we wanted a new pet. My daughter thought we needed a dog. We went to the shelter and looked at dogs and cats. We went to a cat show, watched dogs at the dog park, and talked over the pros and cons. My husband kind of liked a dog, and I wasn’t sure, but I could adjust (familiar story?).

This time, though, I had taken the NLP training and I paid attention to the K. We went back to the shelter and decided together to get two rescue kittens, which have been a delight and a joy for both of us.