How To Leverage Personal Change in Clients Using NLP: A Case Study

Self-employed Psychologist

It was almost home time on Friday when I received a distressed call. John had been retrenched earlier in the week explaining a heartless termination meeting handled poorly and without compassion.

Asking to see me John then recounted his experience several times with, increasing anger and resentment. An employee of some years he was not provided with any explanation and was escorted from the premises. He was particularly angry with his manager who he had been good mates with describing him as a ‘turncoat’ and ‘traitor.’

John was somewhat traumatised by this event and it was apparent he was ‘stuck in replay’ – going over and over the event what they did to me, how could they etc. In replaying the event, John became angrier and angrier.

A traditional Psychology approach

Traditional approaches in psychology and counseling suggest emotions surrounding a traumatic event will be released through encouraging a person to go-through his experience as many times as required. Yet here the opposite was happening. Other models in counseling theory suggest an interpretation via the Kubler-Ross model where one enters the grief cycle process claiming one must travel an emotional journey before moving into a final ‘acceptance phase.’ Whilst ‘grief-cycle’ thinking may have merit, it is time-consuming and often requires much support.

Were there any quicker responses available to me? To get John fixed-up so he could go home feeling better. But it was Friday night what could I do?

How NLP came into play

From an NLP understanding John’s experience had created a synaesthesia pattern (primarily kinaesthesia and visual); an anchoring of the event including his manager (visual) with anger and resentment (kinaesthetic). John’s eye directions were also looping a common pathway consistent with this pattern (and synesthesia) as he moved his, eyes in a direction that saw himself being retrenched leading to self-talk (those bastards) and then eyes moving to a place where he experienced strong emotion.

Perhaps I could clear this pattern using a ‘dismantling unwanted synesthesia pattern?’ Or perhaps I could use a ‘collapsing anchor technique? I decided upon the latter selecting a ‘visual collapsing anchors’ technique developed by Steve Andreas.

This technique involves accessing from one’s history for feel-good / capable states before then mixing-in the non-resourceful state John had been stuck in. This should also lead to a dismantling of the synaesthesia.

The Results

What is most enjoyable about this and many NLP spin-off techniques is to watch the shift in the individual, and I was not disappointed. John was momentarily confused in a processing state before emerging into sense of feeling calm and settled. John was unable to recall the experience with the attached emotion! Instead, the recalled experience remained unchanged but could now be dealt with more resourcefully.

As a psychologist, I often felt ‘like a doctor without a medical kit,’ possessed with an understanding of the behaviour but with few techniques to affect real change. NLP supplies these techniques as well as a, sophisticated epistemology through which to understand the human condition.

* The self-employed psychologist referred to in this success story has completed the 10970NAT Graduate Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming

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