Steve Andreas’ NLP Blog

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

First watch the 6-minute video here. [Or on Youtube here.]

Review by Steve Andreas.

I haven’t yet had a chance to use the method Bandler demonstrates, but I know two people who have used it, and they say it does work, as anyone with NLP background might expect.

Bandler’s instruction: “Take that picture, shrink it down to the size of a quarter—prrrrup—and blink it black and white”—is accompanied by quick and definitive hand gestures. “Shrink it down to the size of a quarter” makes the image so small that it will elicit a much less intense emotional response, and moving it lower in the visual field will make it less important. “Black and white” takes the color out of it, reducing its emotional impact further, and “blinking it” repeatedly interrupts the image and any remaining response.

As Bandler does this, his left hand is behind Michael’s back, and it looks as if he is anchoring Michael’s response on his back or shoulder. He continues to keep his arm in this position until 3:30 when the video is interrupted by a commercial break.

Bandler says, “Clear your mind for a minute,” as his right hand waves in front of Michael’s face, insuring that any images he may be making are wiped away, followed by “Look at me.” These two commands are followed by, “Now look at the picture and try to be afraid. “Try” presupposes that it will be difficult to be afraid. Michael looks a little surprised, congruently saying, “I’m good.”

A little later, Bandler says, “Now that the picture’s out of your mind,” presupposing that it is out of his mind. All nice work, flawlessly delivered.

Bandler then tests by asking Michael to make two pictures, one of him being terrified, and the other of him going over and touching a snake, and choose which he’d rather be. Michael says he prefers being terrified—which I understand to be a conscious mind answer based on his past experience of being afraid. When Bandler says, “When you look at yourself going over and touching a snake do you look afraid?” Michael says, “No,” indicating an unconscious change in response.

Bandler appears to be holding the anchor during this testing, which is a useful way of making sure that it works, especially in the context of a public demonstration. However, if he had not used the anchor, it would have been a better test of whether or not the change was complete.

With his hand still on Michael’s back, Bandler then points out to him all the time wasted, both in the past and future, by having the phobic response, and what he could do with all that time, to motivate him to choose the picture of touching the snake. When Bandler says “ten minutes a day, 352 days a year” (instead of 365 days) that is a clever distraction of Michael’s conscious mind. Shortly after that the video is interrupted for a commercial break; it would be very interesting to know what else Bandler did during the segment that was omitted from the video.

The video begins again with testing, with Kelly holding a huge snake, and Bandler slowly walking with Michael toward the snake, touching the snake, and eventually holding it.

It’s worth noting that the pre-test, (having a snake thrown at him unexpectedly) is very different from the post-test (seeing a snake at a distance and then voluntarily walking over to touch it and hold it).

Some might say that the post-test was more intense, since it was a much larger, and real snake, rather than a smaller toy snake. However, not all people are more afraid of a large snake than a small one, and having the snake come at him suddenly and out of his control is very different than seeing the snake, and choosing to slowly walk over to touch it. Ideally, the pre-test and post-test should be identical—same snake, same conditions, so that any difference in response can be securely attributed to the intervention, and not to other variables.

Curiously, the “pre-test” clips of Michael responding to a thrown snake were not filmed just before Bandler’s work with him. One of these clips shows Michael with no tie, and the other shows him with a dark maroon tie, while in the work with Bandler he is wearing a plaid tie, as shown in the stills from the video below:




Furthermore, in the clip where Kelly is talking to Michael about facing his fear of snakes, he is wearing a tan tie, and in the clip where Michael is talking about not wanting to get over his fear, he is wearing yet another tie, a striped one, as shown in the clips below. Kelly’s dress is also different in the different clips. This indicates that these clips were also recorded at different times well before Bandler’s work with him–none of these clips were taped just before Bandler’s intervention.


Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 6.19.43 PM

I think there is also some question whether Michael really had a “huge” phobia to start with. At 1:20, just after Bandler asks Michael, “Remember when she threw the snake at you?” Michael says, “Oh, yeah,” but I don’t see the kind of nonverbal responses I would expect to see if he had a phobia.

A TV host’s job is to put on a good show, and in a variety of situations this will require good acting ability to accomplish that. Furthermore, the context of a TV show, with all the preparation and expense, and with a live audience watching and listening to one of the TV hosts (in contrast to a volunteer from the audience) exerts considerable pressure to respond as expected.

A case in point is Bandler’s 2008 video of working with a woman with an airplane phobia in “The Hypnotist.” At the end of part 2, it is quite clear from both her verbal report and her nonverbal response that she still has her phobia of flying, yet the video (which must have cost a bundle to produce) is presented as a success by “the world’s leading hypnotist.”

Is this good therapy or good theater? I think it is a mixture of both, and it’s useful, and interesting, to sort out which is which.

What Kind of Change Methods are you using?

Guest post by Connirae Andreas

When someone has a broken bone, sometimes it’s helpful or even necessary to put on a splint or a cast, so that the bone can heal properly. Then at some point this needs to be removed for us to have full functional use of the body again.

Psychologically, when we encounter stressful situations in life, we often come up with “coping mechanisms” that help us “get by.” Each of us has different ways of dealing with the stresses in our life, and the “coping mechanisms” we develop are a bit like putting on a splint. They can be helpful in getting us through. However, often we have put on these “psychological splints” – and forgotten to take them off. It is as if we have accumulated an increasing number of splints that haven’t been removed after the crisis is past. Some of our coping mechanisms may have been useful in the moment. Some of them perhaps never were. But they were part of our life journey (more about that in the training itself).

Core Transformation and the Wholeness Process are methods that help us by dissolving the psychological “splints” that we’ve put on, and then go on to heal the original issue itself.

Many self-help methods are actually about creating defense mechanisms or “splints.” They are about creating overlays to experience. For example, we may be advised to “think positively” by saying to ourselves, “Everything is getting better and better…” or some other positive affirmation. If someone bullies us, we may be taught to notice how we’re better than that person, and they are actually weak. Or to imagine what they would look like in diapers. If we’re lacking confidence, perhaps a coach might anchor confidence for us so that we can feel it even when confidence isn’t warranted. Each of these is an overlay—something that is added to experience in an attempt to improve it.

One classic coping method is to distance ourselves from something we have trouble with. The NLP Phobia/Trauma process teaches us to do this, and it’s an incredibly useful process that has helped many vets and trauma survivors as well as those with phobias. I can’t overstate how significant this method has been for many who have suffered from PTSD. It usually results in the elimination of nightmares, knee-jerk panic responses, and many other symptoms that can keep a vet from having a normal life.

However, I’ve come to believe that this is just the first step in the full healing that’s possible. When the full healing happens, it’s no longer necessary to distance ourselves from even very difficult experiences. We experience an OKness about life that is somehow more fundamental and significant than those experiences were. It’s no longer necessary to add “positive thoughts” because we are experiencing an ongoing wellbeing so that we don’t need to talk ourselves into anything.

These are the kinds of shifts that are happening for people through Core Transformation and through Wholeness Work. Each works in a unique way to get the result, but both move us in the same direction.

With Core Transformation, we start with the “problem,” and use it as a doorway to discover/uncover a felt sense of what we might call our “essence.” It’s difficult to put words to it, but people call it “inner peace” “presence” “love” or even “oneness with God.” The process guides us in making a shift so that this becomes the “us” that is moving through life. Here’s a link to a free video where Tamara Andreas demonstrates how this works.

In the first of the Wholeness methods we literally dissolve the unconscious sense of self or “ego.” Here’s a link to a free video where Connirae introduces you to this new way of working.

So what difference do these “wholeness methods” make?

People frequently get shifts in life-long issues, and are surprised when other issues they haven’t specifically worked with also clear up. The training also gives people the skills they need to continue using these methods on their own if they choose. Both methods offer direct doorways to the felt experience of something that many describe as spiritual. However, these methods are very practical and get specific results.

“Since I did [Core Transformation] I am not the same person. I look at the world around in a different way, having a Core state as a basis of my perception of everything around. There is no more fear, just appreciation for all the wonders of life.”
— Core Transformation live training participant

“I have been meditating, and contemplating for 40 years and the Wholeness Process gives me greater flexibility and refined tools for accomplishing stillness.”
— Ray Haiduk, Wholeness Process Online Training Participant

Because these methods work so well together, we are offering both trainings this fall.

Come join us in Boulder Colorado for the deep transformation series…

Begin with Core Transformation
3 days with Tamara Andreas, Oct 23-25 2015
Learn more and register here.

Followed by Coming to Wholeness
3 days with Connirae Andreas, Nov 14-16 2015
Learn more and register here.

Most people get more out of both trainings when they begin with Core Transformation. The CT work usually creates some large shifts and access to a “core of being” that makes it easier to get the full benefit from the Wholeness work. This sequence is especially helpful for people working with past trauma.

You’re welcome to call us at 303-442-2902 or email order at realpeoplepress dot com if you have any questions about which is the best place for you to begin.

We hope you consider allowing these trainings to assist you in your ongoing evolution.

Steve Andreas announces his version of retirement

I have been saying for years that I’m semi-retired, but now that I am just short of 80, I think it’s time to go a bit further. I’m planning to retire from teaching live trainings and presenting at conferences. I will be continuing to explore, develop and refine NLP methods, write about them on my blog and other places, and converse with colleagues.

As background, I have had what the doctors call “essential tremors” for many years, but now they have a new name, “atypical Parkinson’s disease.” The tremors — mostly in my left hand — don’t bother me significantly, but they certainly don’t enhance my training presence. If I were a surgeon or a watchmaker, I’d have been out of a job long ago! My voice has become hoarse, and sometimes a bit halting. My mind still works as well as it did (I think) but a little more slowly. Connirae tells me she thinks I’m at my best teaching — but it takes much more effort, and I notice that my mind sometimes goes into a brief stall when something unexpected happens, or too many things happen at once, or I have to search for an elusive word. My balance is way off, so I have been wobbling a bit for some time, sometimes bumping into doorways. My main troubling symptom is a significant reduction in energy. My mornings are mostly fairly alert and normal, but I pretty much have to nap for an hour every afternoon after lunch, and I’m often somewhat zombiefied for a while afterward.

On the positive side, I still feel good and enjoy life — good sleep, appetite, hearing, vision, digestion, sex (Is there such a thing as bad sex at 80?), and I don’t yet need medication. My neurologist tells me that most people my age die with Parkinson’s rather than from it, and since half the men my age are already dead, I have little to complain about.

I also still enjoy finding treasures at yard sales on Saturday mornings, and giving people advice on paintings by Charles Partridge Adams. And of course I enjoy our land, which has pretty much recovered from the big flood of September, 2013 — which may have been a 5,000-year event. I say this because our back yard, which was inundated along with the lower level of our house, was a Native American campground, in which we have found arrowheads — and the chips that were removed when they were made—that are of a type that were in use 5,000 years ago. Before the flood they were lying on the surface. Now, post flood, that layer is covered by a foot of sand and gravel.

I’m still mentoring/advising the R & R project researching the effectiveness of the NLP phobia cure (renamed “Reconsolidation of Traumaic Memories”) for PTSD flashbacks. In the first pre-pilot study they got complete resolution with 25 of 26 vets — and the 26th appears to be someone who faked the post-treatment testing to be sure of keeping his disability income. Replication studies are in progress.

Another current project is mentoring/assisting some able colleagues in modeling “borderline personality disorder” and developing a protocol for resolving it. We have a lot of ideas, and are beginning to move into sequencing and testing parts of the model.

Thanks to all the colleagues and participants I have learned from and worked with over the years.

Steve Andreas

At a conference back in the 1960’s someone asked Paul Watzlawick, “When can couple therapy be terminated?” Wazlawick replied, “When the husband says to the wife, ‘This coffee is terrible,’ and they both know that he is talking about the coffee.” The implication is that they are not talking about their relationship, the wife’s inability or unwillingness to make good coffee, the husband’s blaming or impossible standards, or anything else — just that the coffee is terrible, so they can focus on practical problem-solving to improve the coffee.

At another conference, Watzlawick was asked to define maturity. He replied, “Maturity is doing what you think is best, even when your mother thinks it’s a good idea,” implying that the son isn’t burdened by having to rebel reflexively against the mother.

Richard Bandler used to joke, “I’m only a hypnotist, so this is only a suggestion,” followed by an embedded command. Since the word “only” means “nothing but” or “nothing else but,” “I’m only a hypnotist” (which would ordinarily indicate a statement that is self-deprecating or minimizing) literally becomes, “I am a hypnotist and nothing else.” This creates a context in which the listener becomes a hypnotic subject who responds to the hypnotist’s suggestions. The usual meaning of “This is only a suggestion,” in which the word “only” would ordinarily minimize the impact of what is said next, reverses to become a command to be followed hypnotically. Recognition of the reversal of the usual meanings of these phrases creates an enjoyable joke to further distract the listener’s conscious mind. All this occurs through implication.

Implication is far subtler than presupposition, much less likely to be noticed or challenged, and much more likely to elicit an appropriate response without interference by someone’s conscious beliefs or understandings.

Milton Erickson’s use of implication was both fundamental and pervasive in almost all his work, yet trainings in Ericksonian hypnosis rarely even mention it, much less thoroughly train participants in how to use it for gathering information and therapeutic change. Understanding implication is like opening a new set of eyes and ears, and it makes sense out of many of Erickson’s interventions that otherwise only appear to be bizarre and mysterious. I have recently written an article giving many examples of Erickson’s Use of Implication in the Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter. You can read the article here — scroll down to p.8.

I have also written three detailed “how to” articles on implication in previous editions of the Erickson newsletter; for your convenience here are links to those:

Online conference: Ericksonian Hypnosis in the Treatment of Depression:

Eight experts share their experience and insights.

Depression is often clearly a response to loss — of a loved person, a valued job, a sense of self-identity, a treasured activity, a dream, or a future. In my segment of this conference, titled “The many faces of loss, and how to resolve it,” I explore the possibility that all depression is in response to some kind of loss — including a number of experiences that are often not thought of as losses, such as a “midlife crisis,” or an image of a stable and loving childhood that an abuse victim never experienced. If this is true, then resolving the loss will lift the resulting depression. Ryan Nagy is a skilled and intelligent interviewer, willing to offer his own personal experience in response to trying out what we are discussing.

Other speakers in the conference include Erickson experts Michael Yapko — who probably knows more about depression than anyone else on the planet — and Bill O’Hanlon, who has been very open about being suicidally depressed as a college student.

We are joined by presentations by Carolyn Daitch, Rob McNeilly, Bill Wade, Carol Kershaw, and Lynn Johnson.

The conference is available in video, audio, and smartphone versions, and has a money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with it, so you risk nothing by signing up. The written description of the conference and presenters is easy to scan quickly, and includes a short video introduction by Ryan, that puts a human face on this learning opportunity.

~Steve Andreas

Click here to read more about the conference.