Steve Andreas’ NLP Blog

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

New Video of Metaphors of Movement Free

Watch this video for a fresh introduction to Metaphors of Movement.

The video is of Mark Andreas presenting at the ACHE conference, and includes some interaction with the audience plus a great example at the end.

We invite you to come to a live MoM training with Andy Austin, the developer of Metaphors of Movement, in Boulder on April 17 – 20, 2015. This will be our fifth time hosting Andy’s training, and his model continues to get better and better every year.

Click here to find out more about the training.

After sending that post, I realized that one of the results of changing auditory self-talk to a visual representation is that it strips out all the auditory tempo, tonality, accent, etc. (Words on a page have no tonality except what is provided by our reading voice, plus a few clues provided by punctuation (;!?,. etc.)

And since those tonal qualities are the major drivers of the emotional/feeling state, it creates a shift even before any other changes in punctuation, tonality, tempo, etc. That elicits a more neutral response that makes it easier to introduce a different tonal pattern or tempo, etc. when going from the visual back to an auditory representation. This seems totally obvious to me now.

Generalizing, this could be a very useful first step when working with any troublesome dialogue—write it out on paper, or a flip chart, or in space in front of a client before intervening in some other way. (This will tend to strip out the existing nonverbal qualities that are driving the bad feeling in problem contexts.)

Bruce Teall pointed out to me that this is likely an unrecognized factor in CBT’s writing out a sentence on a card to read periodically, and may be a factor in the usefulness of journaling.

This bit of clarity has given me a delicious little burst of pleasure.


CBT and nonverbal interventions

In that same post I wrote that I was not aware that CBT utilized changes in nonverbal aspects of internal self-talk, and asked for references to CBT’s use of nonverbal interventions. Maarten Aalberse, in France, sent me a reference to ACT (which is a “3rd generation” form of CBT) that does indeed include changes in accent, tonality, tempo, location, changing the auditory to a visual representation and then changing the visual representation, as well as a number of metaphors that achieve these kind of changes. I’m glad to be corrected on this.


New video on the resolution of PTSD

At the March, 2014 Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, I was part of a panel on Neuroscience. The title of my presentation was, “Therapy Isn’t Brain Science,” taking the position that neuroscience findings have no more relevance to therapy than the chemistry of wood has to a carpenter—no matter how true neuroscience is (and there is some doubt about some of it) it is a different level of knowledge that doesn’t tell us what to do with a client. I showed my 30-year-old video of resolving PTSD as an example (which at the time I called a phobia). I began with some explanation of how the basic “movie theater” visualization works, and followed the video with further explanation.

Many readers may find this presentation redundant, but the context of presenting at a national therapy conference lends some additional authority to what I have been saying for years—I didn’t just record something in my basement. The first comment on the video has already made it worthwhile to post it, because there are few experiences as satisfying as knowing that someone has made good personal use of something. I hope Santa puts something as delicious under your tree:

“Extraordinary! As I watched him work with this person, I went along with his instructions and entertained a traumatic experience I had in Vietnam.

Wow. I felt the resolution of the event—it just drained away leaving me with a sense of peace, a sense of being me without a certain background uncomfortableness that has been there for decades. A different me. A me clear. A me not affected any longer. A me with no emotional reaction to a memory of something that always used to produce nausea and upset if I thought about it.

This process is so simple and so profound all at the same time. I will be sharing this with all my therapist friends. The possibilities it offers for extraordinary relief are astoundingly powerful, assuming that the results are consistently duplicatable.

Thank you Steve Andreas.”

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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