Steve Andreas’ NLP Blog

NLP Articles, News, and Tidbits about Psychotherapy and Personal Development

Changing Troublesome Self-Talk

In the 2 ½ minute video clip* below, you can view an example of a very elegant and rapid method** for transforming a troublesome response to an inner voice, developed by Mel Davis in the UK. The woman in this video had intense anxiety in a variety of situations in which she said to herself internally, “I can’t do it.” I think you’ll find this rapid change method unique.

Notice that although she is very aware of her feeling shifts, she has no conscious perception or understanding of how they were elicited.

Since most problems are caused by unconscious processing, effective change work must involve changes in the unconscious aspects of our experiencing. Despite this, a great deal of “talk therapy” is directed at developing “insight” or other conscious understandings.

In the video clip I first set the frame that all parts or aspects of ourselves have a positive intent, and then offer her a series of instructions—some verbal, and some nonverbal—directed at changing nonverbal aspects of her experience of the sentence.

Writing what she says to herself on the flip chart transfers the auditory dialogue into a visual experience of the words, which tends to remove the nonverbal tonality.

Changing “can’t” into “can not” changes a constricting modal operator of impossibility into one of possibility and choice—she can always choose to not do it.

I also write her sentence in a way that punctuates it differently, separating it into three pieces: “I can,” “not,” and “do it.”

Finally, I change the tonality of the first piece into a confident statement, the second piece into a rhetorical question, and the third into a command.

All these interventions change nonverbal aspects of her sentence in order to elicit changes in her feeling response to it.


In contrast, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is widely considered the treatment of choice when working with internal dialogue—especially with anxiety or depression—is entirely directed toward the words of an internal voice. CBT identifies and verbally challenges cognitive distortions, such as overgeneralization (“always,” “never”), “shoulds” (modal operators of necessity), either/or polarized thinking, jumping to conclusions, etc. (here’s a more complete list).

CBT has the most research supporting its effectiveness—though that is in the context of multiple sessions, usually ten or more. Some of its most well-known proponents are Aaron Beck, his daughter Judith Beck, and David Burns.

However, the words that someone says to themselves are usually much less emotionally troublesome than the nonverbal elements of how the words are spoken—the tempo, pitch, intonation, accent, pauses, etc. that occur with the spoken word.

A familiar example is that in English a question is indicated by a rising tonality at the end of the sentence, a command has a sinking tonality at the end, and a statement does not shift at the end. If you ask a question with a sinking pitch at the end, it will be responded to as a command. If you make a statement with a rising pitch at the end it will be responded to as a question.

Notice how you feel in response to hearing a hard, screeching, high-pitched voice saying the words, “I love you.” Or try hearing a soft, deep, slow, “smiling” voice saying, “You son of a bitch.” Most people will respond much more strongly to the nonverbal qualities than to the words.

Another example of the importance of the nonverbal is that a fast tempo indicates urgency, while a slow tempo indicates the opposite. This is the basis for Nick Kemp’s method for changing the anxiety created by an internal voice with a fast tempo.***

These nonverbal components often indicate the relationship between the speaker and listener. If an ordinary sentence like, “Please pass the salt” is said in a superior or scornful tone of voice, that tonal quality is what elicits the troublesome emotional response. Most people are usually much less consciously aware of these nonverbal elements, which are largely processed and responded to unconsciously.

Although I have read fairly widely in CBT, and have watched client sessions and videotaped talks by major proponents, I have yet to find any CBT methods that are directed toward eliciting changes in the nonverbal aspects of a troublesome internal voice. If you know of any such CBT interventions, please email me with specific examples or links to examples: andreas [at]


*This video clip is excerpted from an online video training in methods for resolving complex PTSD entitled The PTSD Training.

**There are many more examples of Mel Davis’ method, in chapter 11 of my book Transforming Negative Self-Talk. (Click on the “Look inside the book” feature and sample parts of the book free.)

Norton has recently published a sequel, MORE Transforming Negative Self-Talk. (Again you can click on the “Look inside the book” feature and sample parts of the book free.)

Both books have many additional ways to change nonverbal aspects of an internal self-talk to elicit changes in emotional response very rapidly.

***I had previously used Nick Kemp’s method with the woman in the video clip. Follow-up during the workshop and also some months later verified that she no longer had anxiety in any of the contexts in which she had previously experienced it.

NLP Works for PTSD

In 1984, Connirae Andreas worked with John, a Vietnam vet who had tried all sorts of therapy to get over his PTSD for 13 years, without success. Using the V/K dissociation process, also known as the phobia cure or the “movie theater” method, she was able to resolve his PTSD in a single session lasting about 45 minutes. Four weeks later she interviewed him on camera, and he described his experience, both before and after the session, in considerable detail. This video is very useful to show to people who find it hard to believe that the phobic core of PTSD can be resolved so quickly. We have recently made this NLP PTSD video available online here.

This interview was included in our 1984 video titled, “The phobia/trauma cure,” which also included Steve’s 8-minute demonstration of the method with Lori, who had an intense phobia of bees, and a ten-month follow-up with Lori. The NLP phobia demonstration with Lori is available on YouTube. A 25-year follow-up interview with Lori is also available online.

About a year and a half ago, I worked with an Iraq vet for four sessions totaling 9 hours, recorded it all, and made it available as an online streaming video program called Releasing PTSD. A 14-minute free excerpt from these sessions is available online here.

Finally, a year ago I taught a comprehensive 4-day training in resolving both the phobic core of PTSD and many of the other problems (grief, shame, guilt, hypervigilance, anxiety, rage, etc.) that often occur along with it, and made it available as a streaming video training called The PTSD Training.

Many treatments for PTSD lump all of these components together and try to apply a single treatment to resolve them all. This training demonstrates and teaches unique treatment approaches for each of these components.

It is now just over 30 years since the 1984 sessions above were recorded. Since then we and our colleagues have made many, many attempts to interest mainstream psychotherapy in this method. Despite all the publicity about Iraq vets with PTSD, we have had surprisingly little success. Currently accepted treatments for PTSD are slow, painful, and woefully inadequate.

If you know anyone at all who is involved in PTSD treatment at any level, please share this blog post with them. I have little hope that this method will become widely recognized and used before I leave the planet, but I’m going to keep trying!

For more info, visit…

Releasing PTSD: The Client Sessions. Get results with complex PTSD in hours — not months or years. See what’s possible and become a more effective therapist.

The PTSD Training: Learn specific methods for successfully resolving the many aspects of Complex PTSD.

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Free stuff from Steve and Connirae

New article by Steve Andreas appears in the Psychotherapy Networker, August 2014

In this article, Steve expands on a previous blog post, a “case study” describing how he helped a client let go of hate. It includes a lot more detail, and some additional understandings that are fundamental to all client work. It is written in a way that is hopefully more understandable to those without NLP background, including two year follow-up.

Rich Simon, the editor of the Networker said, “This is one of the clearest, most compelling descriptions of NLP — or whatever you’re calling it these days — I’ve ever seen.”

Letting Go of Hate: How to help clients change unconscious responses

Free Webinar on the Wholeness Process

In this 75 min. webinar, Connirae demonstrates a new way of working modeled from spiritual principles, plus shares some of the important frames for the Wholeness Process. This is a video recording of a live Webinar, hosted by NLP Planet.

(Video and audio quality are variable. However the entire presentation has English sub-titles, to make it easy to understand.)

The Wholeness Process: Free Introductory Video Training

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How to Mobilize and Support Natural Healing

Three days ago I was walking in our creek bed, very rocky and jumbled — and ¼ mile wide — since the huge flood last September. I carelessly tripped over a large stick, tumbled forward and fell heavily on my right side, pulling the muscles in my left leg so that I could only walk by hobbling and lurching with most of my weight on my right leg. My knee soon swelled up, and the muscles above and below the knee became very sore.

We almost always notice the sudden onset of an injury, and the same is true of many illnesses. But we tend not to notice the healing, which is almost always more gradual. Our image of the onset of the injury or illness is usually very vivid, while our image of healing is typically faint or non-existent. We may have gotten sick — and well again — countless times, yet think only of the getting sick, while ignoring the getting well. People often say something like, “I’m always getting sick,” but I have never heard anyone say, “I’m always getting well,” even though almost every “getting sick” is followed by “getting well.”

This creates an implicit bias in our memory and thinking that is certainly not pleasant, and probably not useful in supporting healing. How can we rebalance — or even reverse — this unconscious bias of thinking mostly of getting sick, while ignoring getting well?

There is a way to assist in natural healing that I have used for years, that automatically “kicks in” whenever I am injured or sick. Initially my internal “film clip” of falling, and the resulting soreness and pain, was very vivid in my mind, along with the present pain and soreness — and I had no image at all of healing. So the first thing I did was reduce the vividness of this onset image by making it dimmer, smaller, faded, colorless, and farther away. This reduced its prominence in my mind, and diminished the possibility of it continuing to elicit thoughts of being damaged, what is sometimes called “retraumatization.”

Next I accessed an internal representation of all the times I have healed from an injury or illness — everything from a scrape or bruise to a very badly broken ankle in high school and several hospitalizations for massive internal bleeding during my stressful college days. Since I’m 78, I have quite a lot of examples of healing.

This redirected my attention from the unpleasant memory of stumbling — and landing — to the much more attractive representation of the many, many times when I have healed in the past, implying that my body will also heal again now. Literally seeing this convincing evidence of the power of natural healing was a lot more pleasant than thinking about tripping and falling, and I found myself relaxing and breathing more easily. The ongoing pain changed from a signal of disaster to become simply a warning about needing to protect the injured areas to allow healing to take place.

The composite representation of healing is one I built years ago, when I was developing the material for my book about self-concept, Transforming Your SelfA quality such as the ability to heal can be a part of your sense of who you are, part of your self-concept. It’s really quite simple to build a solid knowing that your body can heal itself.

Briefly, the first step in creating healing as part of what you know is true of yourself is to find out how you already represent a quality that you know is true of you. Think of another quality that you know is true of you, such as honesty or persistence, and notice what you see, hear and feel internally.

Although there are many variations in exactly how people do this, the two main possibilities are either a collage of images of examples of this quality (which is what I do), or a sequential slide show that presents one image at a time in rapid succession. Each of these has certain advantages and disadvantages, but they both work well, and they can also be combined.

The location of this collage or slide show in your visual field is very important, and the size, brightness, color, 3-D, etc. of each image is also important. You can find more detail on how to do this in my book, and you can read a verbatim transcript of the process of building a new aspect of self-concept here.

Once you have determined how you already represent a quality that you know is true of yourself, the next step is to use that structure as a template to build a new quality, namely that your body knows how to heal itself without your help or interference.

Elicit examples of healing, one at a time. Since we usually ignore healing, it may be easier to think of an injury or illness, and then run the movie of that time forward until you come to the point where you realize that it is healing by itself, and you feel normal, or near normal, again. By itself this is a useful process, as it changes how we experience those past memories as well.

Then make this image look just like the ones in your template — the same size, brightness, color, 3-D etc. — and then put the image into your template.

Do this repeatedly until your template is filled with different images of successful healing. This collection of images is much stronger and more convincing than a single image. When you are done it will then recede into unconsciousness, providing ongoing compelling evidence of your body’s ability to heal from all sorts of injuries and illnesses.

Someone may say, “Oh, I know my body can heal itself.” But if there are no experiences represented in a composite template, it will only be an intellectual knowing that will have no effect on their felt experience and physiology.

I have a lot of experience in using this process to alter many different aspects of self-concept that result in useful changes in people’s attitude and behavior. I know that people experience shifts in their state that they find useful, and that it has made my experience of injury much better subjectively. I don’t know if the process will speed up healing, but I’m reasonably sure that dwelling on an injury, or getting upset over it, will interfere with healing. There is a lot of evidence that a more positive attitude enhances the immune system and healing generally.

The process is easy to do, takes only a small investment of time, and I don’t see how it could possibly do any harm. I am generally healthy, and I have dodged a couple of recommended surgeries based on my assumption that my body can usually heal itself. It is good to keep in mind that even when surgery is necessary, it is our body’s natural healing ability that joins the cut pieces back together.

Over the next couple of days the swelling and soreness around my knee gradually lessened, and at a certain point I noticed that I was walking normally, putting my full weight on my left leg, no longer lurching and dragging it around.


In an earlier blog post, I described several other ways to support natural healing, including an example of Connirae Andreas’ natural healing process, described in detail in chapter 20 of our book Heart of the Mind.

It isn’t often that a really new process is developed, in NLP, in therapy, or in spiritual groups either. Most are new names for old methods, or some new mix of the same ingredients.

Connirae is just making available a process that brings something new to the scene. If you are interested in any type of personal growth, therapy, or spiritual growth, we think you’re going to want to know about this one. See below for the time-limited special offer.

The method, called the Wholeness Process, is a precise and specific model for actually doing what many spiritual teachings talk about.

If you’ve explored Eastern spirituality, you’ve probably heard phrases like “The small self is an illusion. Realize that you are a vast Self,” or “Enlightenment comes through loss of the ego.” But what do such statements actually mean? In this training you’ll learn a step-by-step process for dissolving the everyday sense of the ego. The experience ranges from extremely ordinary to something that can be quite profound. (You can read a few examples below.)

And what does this have to do with resolving our life problems?

Sometimes spiritual practices are taught and done in a way that actually creates a degree of separation between meditative or profound states, and daily life. People might enjoy deep meditative states, but find that their life issues don’t necessarily go away.

With the Wholeness process, there is a natural and immediate integration with daily living. Our life issues can actually be doorways to the experience of this “vast self” spoken of – or just a sense of affectionate presence and clarity. And the life issues are transformed in the process.

Some people have found that issues that hadn’t changed with years of effort, are finally changing using the Wholeness Process. And the results are more significant and ongoing than just solving problems.

If you choose to use this simple method as a life practice (and this can happen in only a few minutes a day, once you’ve learned the method), you will most likely experience a fundamental shift in how you are in the world. Some describe it as having a growing sense of wellbeing, or peace, or joy. And it’s the kind that enables us to be to increasingly interact with others from a place of wisdom, compassion, and humor. Rather than becoming some idea of “perfection”, the wellbeing comes through a very specific, and increasingly effortless way of including and integrating everything that does – or could – arise in our experience.

What people are saying about the video training…

“The Wholeness Process is an effective, simple, and direct method for spiritual awakening, as well as for your own personal development or therapy. From my personal experience, I am delighted to recommend this program. If I can follow it and get a lot from it, then I suspect you will too.”
— Shelle Rose Charvet, NLP Trainer, author of Words That Change Minds

“This simple process defintely works for me. While I’m doing it, no spiritual fireworks, « just » a deep, healing peace. Over time, for now : not an « egolessness », but a very gradual loss of attachment to « ego ». And that’s much more than I had hoped for when starting this program… With … deep gratitude,”
— Maarten Aalberse, Clinical Psychologist, France

Who can Benefit from the Wholeness Process?

Almost everyone can find significant benefits from learning and using the Wholeness Process.

  • Those wanting to relax more deeply or sleep better.
  • Those wanting to resolve emotional issues, relationship issues, or other life issues.
  • Those wanting to evolve as human beings.
  • Those wanting more peace, joy, and fulfillment in life.

1. The Wholeness Process: Online Streaming Video Training:

You get the full 2-days of this carefully-sequenced training, guiding you through the Wholeness Process. Connirae lays the groundwork for your unconscious to experience the method naturally and easily. This is a professionally recorded and edited training, and includes demonstration and teaching of 4 Wholeness methods.

Day 1 Wholeness methods resolve many life issues, and create a deep relaxation of the nervous system, plus greater wisdom, clarity, and compassion.

Day 2 Wholeness methods create a sense of substantialness and embodiment of the above in the world. This happens through a deep resolution of what we can call “authority”, in a new way that hasn’t been done before in any field of therapy or spirituality.

Only $159.00.

Learn more about The Wholeness Process online training here >>

More comments from subscribers to the Wholeness Process streaming video training…

“Wow indeed… I hadn’t known that I had subscribed to such a process… Amazing. Bowing to it all.”

“It’s still early days for me, and yet I already see wonderful (and totally unexpected) effects… Thank you,”

“This is amazing. I did the process just for 5 or 10 minutes at my computer. The sensation [what I was working with] – was gone! No content – just being aware of the sensation and trusting what is coming up. The dissolving of the “I” (like fairy dust going down both sides of me and then up through my core in a circle) and my awareness seemed to integrate with the original sensation without me even making an effort.”

“I watched the first nine or ten videos. Wow, you really did it. Made the gurus redundant… Much more I could say, of course.”

“Reclaiming inner authority [from the second day of the training] is an incredibly powerful application of this amazing process. …. It feels like a lot of internal shifting take place.”

“…[when we paused the video], suddenly I felt as if I were ‘pulled in’ to a pleasant but unfamiliar state. I don’t know how to describe it, I have received hundreds of Core Transformation sessions so I am familiar with profound states, but this was different. Nothing much seemed to matter, I no longer felt the need to speak, and when [my wife] returned with her cup of tea and spoke to me, neither did I feel the need to speak to her, nor could I speak, the mouth wouldn’t open, although there were words there to be spoken if they could have been spoken. Noticing her concern, I decided I needed to find a way to speak to her to let her know I was OK. Because I felt ‘pulled in’ I sort of looked for something to ‘hang on to’ to ‘pull myself out’, but there was nothing. After a few minutes of willing it and trying to attach myself to something ‘solid’ (gee, it’s hard to find words to describe it), I was able to mumble a few words to let [my wife] know I was OK and that we should continue with the course. Gradually, after a few more of these videos, I returned to normal but I was left with an unusual feeling of joyfulness for the rest of the evening…”

“I am just beginning to listen to your series. It is a wonderful talent to be able to break things down to its true components.  Thanks for doing the work.”

“Wonderful, thanks Connirae, especially for the Reclaiming of Inner Authority. Thanks also for this communication comment forum, it is wonderful to connect in these ways.”

Learn more about The Wholeness Process online training here >>

2. The Wholeness Process: A Complete Individual Session (video download)

In this session Connirae guides a young woman in using the basic Wholeness Process with a life issue she is facing, as well as in using it meditatively. You’ll see how this single session made a “huge shift” for her.

  • Everyone can get a lot out of the individual session by “going along for the ride” as this young woman experiences multiple transformations.
  • Therapists and coaches will find this session a valuable resource in how to use the Wholeness material with clients who have no background.
  • Keep in mind that both your understanding of what’s happening, and your unconscious experience will be richer if you’ve already viewed Day 1 of the Streaming Video training.

$19.00 Introductory offer.

Learn more about this demo video here >>

3. Live Training

Attend the training live, with Connirae in any one of three locations — Boulder, CO, San Francisco, CA, and New York, NY. All excellent opportunities to experience the method in person and deepen your results.

Learn more about live Wholeness Process trainings here >>

Where should I begin?

Begin with whatever best fits your learning style, and your schedule. Each of the options above offers unique benefits.

If you’re already fairly sure you’ll want to learn and use the Wholeness Process, Connirae suggests beginning with the Training (either streaming video or live). The training will guide you through each aspect of the Wholeness Process in a systematic way. Then you can use the individual session video as a way to consolidate your learnings.

If you’d like to start with something smaller, the individual session will give you a significant “taste” of what this is all about, for a very low cost.

Connirae recently presented the Wholeness Process to a large group at the Psychotherapy Networker Conference, in Washington DC. Most of the group were therapists with mindfulness background, and the feedback was VERY positive. Some were saying “This is what mindfulness is all about, but this method gives me a precise and dependable way to do it.”

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