Identify a Limiting Behaviour Strategy with NLP


I am considering using this technique with Frank, a friend with a fear of flying. He assures me that it is not an all out phobia, as he flies when he really has to for business and very occasionally for urgent social events. His wife tells me that his fear of flying severely restricts their holiday options. If it was a full-on phobia, I would not get him to recall the experience in the way I have outlined below. Frank is eager to be a case study for me.

Identifying Frank’s Strategies
As the therapist, stay alert and in an externally focussed state throughout the process.

Establish rapport with Frank and confirm the purpose for the session – to identify his strategy for doing his fear of flying behaviour – the limiting behaviour.

Identify the precise circumstance in which Frank has his fear of flying. Many strategies apply in different circumstances and parts of life. Some only occur is certain situations such as work, family, relationship or hobby. In Frank’s situation, it is more limiting in a social context.

Ask Frank to remember the earliest and or worst time he can remember experiencing his fear of flying. Confirm the specific date and time before asking him to visualise the experience, making sure that he is associated in the experience. If he isn’t, get him to imagine stepping inside himself in the remembered experience, seeing what he is seeing, hearing what he is hearing, feeling what he is feeling and listening to his remembered internal dialogue.

  1. When I sense from Frank’s physiological appearance that he is nearing the peak of his experience, anchor his state. I might need to trigger it again, while eliciting his strategy and the associated submodalities.
    a. Ask Frank questions about his experience, in the present tense to help him remain associated, about his experience. Look for the representational system he is using when reliving and describing the experience by watching for eye-accessing and other physiological cues and listening for linguistic ones.
    b. Use unspecified predicates, such as “How do you think about…” to elicit which representational systems Frank is using during specific steps in his strategy.
    c. Use multiple-choice content non-specific questions such as do you see a picture?”, “hear something?”, “have a feeling about it?” and “do you say something to yourself?” Eliciting all the major representational modalities – V, A, K and Ad – of Frank’s strategies
  2. Continue exploring Frank’s strategies using who, what, where and questions such as:
    a. How do you know you are experiencing your fear of flying?
    b. What happens first?
    c. What happens next?
    d. What happens just before?
    e. How do you know that you have finished?
  3. During the elicitation process:
    a. Maintain awareness of non-verbal signals including tonality, hesitation, emphasis, emotion, confidence, uncertainty, etc.
    b. Watch out for loops in Frank’s strategies, as well as the overall TOTE one, both through his language and his unconscious physiology. I won’t gain any great benefit from iterating these smaller loops.
    c. Make sure I have the main functional pieces or chunks of his strategy. Part of strategy elicitation involves my identifying where a strategy starts and ends. I must also decide on relevant chunks that I may want to chunk down at this stage.
  4. Move forward with these techniques through the main and associated parts of Frank’s overall strategy for his fear of flying. When he reaches the exit phase of the strategy, fire the anchor to get him to relive the experience or take him back to step 5 and repeat the process until all possible strategies are elicited.
  5. If necessary and/or appropriate, get Frank to go back and relive his fear of flying experience in another context – perhaps flying with the family or with work colleagues. Ensure that I have the main functional steps or chunks of Frank’s strategy including where they start, end and
  6. Feed the sequence back to Frank, calibrating his response and checking for congruence and confusion. If it’s not right, go back to step 5 recheck the strategy.
  7. Now go through each step in Frank’s key strategies and elicit as much information as I need to achieve his desired outcome. Look for the key submodalities and the internal or external aspect of each VAK modality.
    a. Carefully and cautiously test the strategy and see if I can experience the same fear of flying as Frank. Test again with a similar fear or in another context to experience how the strategy works independently.
    b. Test whether the strategy fails if Frank the person omits or changes one or two steps in his strategy.
    c. Seek to the key elements and submodalities needed for his strategy to succeed.
Categories : NLP
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