Telephone session with an anxious client,

using Nick Kemp’s Spinning Feelings and Tempo Shift methods,

with commentary by Steve Andreas


A colleague asked me for feedback on a 25-minute phone session that he did with a middle-level manager who was anxious about an imminent meeting with several upper managers, in which she expected to be criticized and attacked verbally. The session was very successful, as indicated by her report the next day, “Thanks for the check in, and THANK YOU for that fantastic work in the afternoon. I felt really great about how I conducted myself. I was able to provide the center even in the midst of yelling.”

Feedback seldom gets much better than that! However, despite the complete success of the session, I had a number of suggestions for how to make the process even more elegant and effective. Some of my comments are minor, perhaps even “picky”; others are more substantial. Many clients will be able follow instructions appropriately even when they are sloppily worded, but others will not. (And of course some clients will manage to misunderstand even the most carefully worded instruction.) The more specific and precise you are with your words, the easier it will be for the client to change. When I offer this kind of feedback, I also see it as an opportunity to learn as much as I can, in order to make my own language more precise. I’ve made my living as an editor—in one form or another—for some 45 years, so I have quite a lot of practice. With the coach’s permission I have made a transcript of the phone recording, and interspersed my suggestions, which I hope will also be of interest to others.


Verbatim Transcript

(Steve’s comments are in italics)

Coach:        So, what would you like to have different?

Client:         What would I like to have different? I would like to be less anxious, going to this meeting.

Coach:        OK, so you’d like to be less anxious. Now that’s a negative so you want to be less of something. What would you like to have in its place?

(Eliciting a positive outcome is an important part of many interventions, but in the case of anxiety, it’s not required. My experience with the spinning feelings process is that it is unnecessary, because the result is automatically positive and appropriate, without needing to rely on the client’s conscious mind to decide what the new response will be.)

Client:         Well, I would like to be a calm, non-anxious presence.

Coach:        “Non-anxious” is also a negative.

Client:         I would like to be astute. I would like to be a centering influence on the group; I’d like to be a calm influence on the group.

Coach:        Calm influence. Actually the word that I like, is in comparison to being non-anxious is to be assured.

(“Assured” is content, which may or may not fit for the client. Content interventions can be useful, but it’s good to realize that they are different from process interventions.)

Client:         Be assured?

Coach:        Uh-huh.

Client:         That’s good.

Coach:        But anyway the idea of being able to be calm, which to me also is about being centered and grounded in who I am—

(“Centered” and “grounded” are additional content.)

Client:         Totally.

Coach:        —rather than being totally reactive to what other people are doing.

Client:         Totally, Right, yes.

Coach:        So with that in mind I’ve got a couple of things that I’d suggest we do, and the first thing is to respond to the anxiety, deal with the anxiety.

         (“Respond to the anxiety,” and “deal with the anxiety” are not the same thing, so this introduces ambiguity and is a little confusing. I think what you mean is “work with the anxiety” or “resolve the anxiety.”)

         (Before working with the anxiety it would be good to find out what the client says to herself that triggers the anxiety. The coach does this much later, after using the spinning feelings process. At that point, the feeling is resolved, making it awkward to find out what she says to herself.)

So take a moment and just be aware of,

(This is “putting the cart before the horse”; you need to elicit the context before being aware of something in it.)

imagine being in this meeting and how you probably imagine you will be.

(This sentence is also not as clear as it could be. “Probably imagining how you will be in the future,” elicits hypothetical, intellectual, possibility rather than present actuality. Compare with, “Imagine you are in the meeting, and notice what you feel,” which is more direct and succinct. You want to start with “imagine,” but after that presuppose in your language that the client is actually in the meeting.)

So just anxious, right?

(“Anxious” names the feeling, which is unnecessary, and may limit or distort the client’s experience of the feeling; using the word “feeling” is more open-ended, and can also be used for any other strong feeling. The outcome at this point is not to name the feeling, but to locate it.)

Client:         Right, right.

Coach:        So just take a moment and be aware of the anxiety.

(The previous sentence is unnecessary; the following one is fine.)

Now as you are aware of the anxiety tell me where it starts in your body and where it goes to.

Client:         And where it goes?

Coach:        Yeah. Anxiety is kind of an interesting experience. It has a huge physiologic component.

(The two previous chatty sentences are unnecessary, and irrelevant to the location.)

So where does it start in your body?

Client:         It starts in my chest with very shallow breath.

Coach:        Very shallow breath. It starts in your chest so it’s sort of your upper chest?

(I would delete the “sort of” which suggests her experience is uncertain. Nothing is added by saying “upper chest,” which may not be accurate.)

Client:         It’s in my upper chest, and I’m truly having hot flashes. Of course it is about 100 degrees here today, but I’m still having hot flashes about this meeting, yeah.

Coach:        So and so you also experience an increase in temperature. So now it starts in your chest. Where does that anxiety travel to? Where does it—?

(There is no advantage to naming it “anxiety.” “Feeling” or “it” is enough.)

Client:         Well it goes down to my stomach, but it doesn’t go— How shall I say? It goes to my stomach, but my feet are not on the ground. It does not go— I know that I’m not grounded; I guess that’s how to say it.

(There is a curious jump in her attention from stomach to feet. I would have asked if the feeling goes anywhere after going to the stomach. Since she mentions that her feet are not on the ground, I suspect that the feeling goes all the way down through her legs to her feet. Even when I think I have the full path, I usually ask once or twice more, to be sure I have the complete path.)

Coach:        Oh, OK. So the feeling now goes from your chest down to your stomach.

(The “now” implies a change; I would delete it.)

Client:         Yep.

Coach:        OK. So it’s traveling that path. Now notice, as it’s traveling that path what color is it?

Client:         What color is it? Red.

Coach:        It’s red. OK.

(A step of the protocol is missing here—asking about the shape, size, etc. of the path. It’s not essential, but it amplifies the visual representation of the feeling, establishing a detailed context for asking the next question.)

And watch it going down that red path,

(“As the feeling moves along this red path,” presupposes both the moving and the watching, so it’s a bit better for engaging unconscious processing.)

and tell me which direction is it spinning—clockwise or anti-clockwise?

(I prefer “notice” to “tell me,” since the client has to notice it before telling me, and the context already implies telling.)

Client:         It’s spinning, uh, anti-clockwise.

Coach:        Anti-clockwise, OK.

(The following conscious-mind selection of an outcome color interrupts the process, requiring a shift in attention, and back again to gathering information about the problem state afterward. It’s not part of the spinning feelings protocol, and seems to be unnecessary. However, selecting the outcome might be a useful addition for some clients.)

Now just set all that aside and come back to that sense of being grounded, with a sense of assurance in who you are, that sense of confidence and calm. When you think of that, what color is that experience?

         (“When you think of that” is an invitation to intellectualize. “What color is that experience?” is more direct.)

Client:         Grass green

Coach:        Green, grass green

Client:         Grass green, yep.

Coach:        Cool. OK, so the first thing I want you to do is to take a moment—

(There is a big jump in attention here between the outcome specification and the problem state. More important, the problem context for the intervention is not elicited. Adding sparkles was omitted here; it’s not necessary, but it amplifies the visual experience in a pleasant way for most. Better to say, “Go back into that problem context and notice the very beginning of that feeling. As it begins to move along that path, spin it in the reverse direction, change it to a color you like better, and add sparkles to it, and just find out what happens.”)

—and spin that anxiety as it’s going down. It’s going anti-clockwise

(“It’s going anti-clockwise” is not useful because it elicits the problem state, which is not what you want here. Doing it this way links the reverse direction to the problem response rather than to the context. This can lead to feeling bad first before feeling better. You want to link the context directly to the reverse spinning.)

so I want you to spin it clockwise and as it’s spinning clockwise let it turn from red into that grass green color, and tell me when it’s spinning quite quickly in the opposite direction. So it will be spinning clockwise and you’ll begin to see as it spins quickly clockwise it will be turning from red into grass green, and tell me when it’s completely green.

(Again, mentioning “red” elicits the problem state, when you want the context to link directly to the new color. “Change the color to a color you like better.”)

Client:         Right. It’s marbled. It’s a marbled red and green.

(This is the result of mentioning “red,” making it more difficult for the client to change it.)

Coach:        Just center into yourself and just let it spin, and spin it quite quickly and tell me when it’s completely green.

         (Nice “save,” presupposing that it will become all green.)

Client:         Yeah, it’s completely green.

Coach:        OK, and now as you watch it spinning and it’s completely green just let it add some sparkles to it, so that you’ve got green and little sparkles going inside of it.

         (Much better to add the sparkles earlier along with reversing the direction of spin and change of color. Using several instructions together tends to overload the client’s conscious mind, eliciting unconscious change.)

Client:         I saw my temperature coming down. My hot flash is subsiding.

Coach:        Cool. So you got little sparkles in it as well?

Client:         Yep.

Coach:        Brilliant, brilliant. OK, now just take a moment and check to see whether your feet are now on the ground.

Client:         They are.

Coach:        Cool.

Client:         It’s sort of amazing.

Coach:        So now just see if you can get the anxiety back.

(This is imprecise. Better to say, “Go back into that meeting, and find out what happens,” to test and future-pace. If the process didn’t work, and the client still feels anxious, asking “see if you can get the anxiety back” would be a serious mismatch! Assuming the report is positive, then follow with a further challenge, “See if you can get the anxiety back.”)

Client:         It’s interesting because now I can remember what red looks like but it’s hard to think about it. It’s actually harder than getting it to spin in the first place. The green is kind of overwhelming everything, which is good! Just the color, it’s a very common color to me.

Coach:        Yeah. Cool.

Client:         Yeah, amazing, amazing!

Coach:        That really is quite amazing

Client:         It’s so much better; I was out in my car searching, seeing if I could find a little happy pill to take. I don’t have any of those anymore, so there you go; I can’t take a happy pill—just do it the right way.

Coach:        OK now so that’s the first thing so that sort of takes care of the physiologic part of the anxiety.

(The following elicitation of the voice that triggers the anxious feeling is a bit awkward now that the feeling has been changed. It would have been much easier and better to elicit the voice before changing the feeling.)

Now I want you to come back though and think about anxiety

         (“Think about anxiety” is an invitation to intellectualize, rather than to notice.)

and to imagine I’ve never been anxious in my life. And so you are trying to teach me how to be anxious.

(“You are trying” implies effort that doesn’t succeed. Better to say something like, “Now I want you to imagine that I’ve never been anxious in my life, and your job is to teach me.”

And so the things that—particularly since you’re feeling anxious about a meeting that’s to come, so the meeting is not actually happening in the room with you at the moment, so it’s a future—

         (That is a very confusing sentence. The focus has shifted from teaching the coach to the client’s experience. “You’re anxious about a meeting to come” would be much simpler and direct. But since she doesn’t get anxious any more, it’s hard for her to do. An explicit reorientation in time would be helpful here: “Go back 15 minutes to when you used to get anxious, and notice what you say to yourself just before the feeling.” In addition to gathering information, this sentence helps solidify the change that has been made.)

So you got to imagine the meeting right? Typically there are four things to pay attention to when we have an experience. And the four things are: what do we see with our eyes, what do we hear with our ears, and then what do we see on the inside, and what do we hear on the inside? And so I’m particularly interested in your experience of anxiety because it’s not happening at the moment.

Client:         Right, right.

Coach:        It’s just in your imagination that what do you have to see on the inside and what do you have to hear on the inside in order to get anxious?

         (The foregoing would be fine as an introduction to a thorough elicitation. However, this is after putting the client into the situation, so it is requires a shift in attention, and is an invitation to pop out of the experience and intellectualize. For this process, the only thing you need is the voice and what it says.)

Client:         Hmn, see on the inside, or hear on the inside. I need to see walls all around me like I’m in a tunnel.

Coach:        OK, you need to see like you’re in a tunnel.

Client:         Like I’m trapped.

Coach:        So there’s a sense of being trapped. Now what do you have to hear?

Client:         Actually what I have to hear is well inside of myself? Inside of myself I need to hear my voices, my mini-voices—

Coach:        Yeah.

Client:         —trying to figure things out.

Coach:        And actually what you’ll find that in order to feel anxious there’s usually, well I call them, a negative mantra. It’s a little phrase that you repeat over and over and over again. It’s kind of in a loop like those old, old eight tracks.

         (This may be true, but the client doesn’t need to know it, and it introduces content that may not fit for the client.)

Client:         Right, right.

Coach:        So this continuous loop and it’s doing, and it’s saying something. So just listen to the loop of all those voices and find the one that really elicits the anxiety.

(I would leave out “loop” and “all those voices” both of which may be a mismatch for the client.)

Client:         Yeah, now I’ve got it, yeah.

Coach:        And tell me what it is.

(“is” is vague, and confuses the client; “what it says” is more specific, and would avoid the confusion that follows.)

Client:         You mean what it’s saying?

Coach:        Yeah.

Client:         It’s saying, “How can I get out of this?”

Coach:        How can you get out of this?

Client:         “How can I escape this?” Yeah, how can I? How can I? “I’ve got to flee.”

(Any of the above sentences will be in the fast voice tempo that elicits the feeling, so any will work to do the voice tempo shift.)

Coach:        OK, now take a moment though. Why would—if you had to stay in this, why would that be a bad thing? ‘Cause getting out of this is an escape mechanism; you’re trying to escape some bad outcome.

(The foregoing is true but unnecessary. The voice is what used to trigger the anxiety. Asking about the precursors only confuses the client, as shown by what follows. )

Client:         Yeah, why?

Coach:        So what’s the bad outcome?

Client:         Well, actually I think that when I’m trying to escape I’m trying to escape; I don’t even want to be part of it. But yeah, no on the level of—hmm—I’m not quite sure what you’re saying.

Coach:        Well, it’s kind of like “I got to get out of this” and that may be the little negative mantra. Here’s what I often find though, is that underneath that is something like “They’re going to get me, I’m going to die.”

(“little negative mantra” and “underneath” may not be a good fit for the client.)

Client:         Oh yeah, thank you, actually all day I’ve been saying I’m terrified.

Coach:        “I’m terrified.”

Client:         I’m terrified. I’m shaking. I’m peeing in my pants. I’m terrified.

(Being “terrified” describes the feeling elicited by the voice, not what the voice says that causes the feeling. This is where many people go wrong, mistakingly thinking that it’s the voice that causes the feeling.)

Coach:        And so something—which tells me, something really bad, you’re imagining something really bad, like “They’re going to hate me, they’re going to fire me, they’re going to abandon me, or I’m going to be alone.”

(These are all content possibilities for what might cause the feeling.)

So take a moment, just take a breath, take a moment and listen and see if you can find what’s the sort of the darkest little mantra that’s way down underneath all of these?

(“The darkest little mantra that’s way down underneath all of these” introduces content that may not be a good fit for the client’s experience.)

Client:         It’s really good. It’s very clear to me that if I stay in the thing I’m going to die.

Coach:        “I’m going to die.” I’m just writing it down. “I’m going to die.”

(“I’m going to die” will also work. However, that meaning is carried by the voice tone in which she previously said, “How can I escape this?” etc. The words don’t matter that much. The fast tempo elicits the anxiety. If she said, “I’m going to the store” in that tempo that is will also make her anxious. It would be more efficient and equally effective to just use the first clear statement the client offered, “How can I get out of this? Or How can I escape this”)

         (At this point in the protocol, the instruction is to ask, “When you have said this to yourself, do you say it in your normal conversational speaking voice, or is it said at a faster tempo? That’s all. Period. Compare this with the somewhat meandering instruction below, some of which is an invitation to think about her experience, in contrast to noticing it.)

So now let’s just take a moment and listen to “I’m going to die” and the first thing I want to do is figure out what do you have to do, and there’s usually two things but we’ll check both of them, to make the feeling of anxiety get worse? So I want to see what you need to do in order to get it worse. And the first thing is to change the volume of the, um—so for example, if we make the negative mantra “I’m going to die,” if we make it really loud does that make it worse?

(Although volume will have an impact, it is secondary. Asking about the volume is not in the tempo shift protocol, and unnecessary.)

Client:         Yeah.

Coach:        OK, loud. Now check also the pace of it. So if it speeds up, does that make it worse?

(“Does that make it worse?” is pretty clear in the context, but “Does that increase the feeling?” would be more precise.)

Client:         Yes, yes, more than slow, fast, yes.

(The next step in the protocol is to ask the client to say it the way they have been, then to slow the tempo by one-third, and then to slow it much more.)

Coach:        So fast and loud?

Client:         Yep.

Coach:        OK. So now what I invite you to do is you know when you watch TV on like CNN they have a “crawl” that’s going along the bottom of the screen?

(The above is not in the tempo shift protocol.)

Client:         Yeah, yeah.

(What follows is essentially a variation of the phobia cure, with green and sparkles added in, rather than the anxiety protocol.)

Coach:        OK, so I want you to imagine in your mind you’re seeing this whole situation and you’ve got a crawl going down the bottom of your visual field and the crawl is this “I’m going to die” and it’s just going, it’s an endless crawl. So you’re no longer hearing it, you’re now seeing it. So tell me when you see it. So you can see it?

Client:         I see it. I got it.

Coach:        OK, now the background of the crawl I invite you to make it that green with the little sparkles in it.

Client:         So I’m like looking at the television set? Is that what I‘m imagining?

(This points out an earlier ambiguity. “Seeing this whole situation” didn’t specify seeing it on a TV.)

Coach:        Yeah, or that sort of the visual field of what’s going on.

(A very confusing sentence! “Sort of” weakens the instruction. Better to say, “Yes, you’re seeing this whole situation on a TV.”)

In the bottom of it you’ve got this crawl and the background of the crawl, so like typically it’s usually like black writing on white or something like that.

Client:         I think I don’t understand the word you’re saying, “call”?

Coach:        Crawl. C-R-A-W-L.

Client:         Oh crawl! Got it, got it. (both laugh)

Coach:        So as you’re watching the crawl, make the background of the crawl that grass green color with the sparkles. And what we’re going to do is (slowly) slow the crawl down.

         (At last, the tempo shift, visual variation, though modified significantly from the protocol.)

So it’s going, (very slowly) “I’m . . . going . . . to . . . die.” So it’s getting slower and slower. (client laughs.) Keep watching it as it’s going really slow, and get really curious and see which of the words is the first one to just get so slow that it gets bogged down and absorbed into the background so you can’t even see it anymore.

Client:         Yeah, “going.”

Coach:       “Going,” OK. And just keep watching and tell me what’s the next one that’s—?

Client:         “I’m.”

Coach:        And just keep watching and tell me when they’ve all gone.

(This is an instruction for amnesia. In general we never want to erase experience, only modify it.)

Client:         Yeah, pretty much green, pretty much green. I can still see a little vestige of it, but pretty much green.

Coach:        OK. And what’s the vestige?

Client:         It’s more that if there was lighting there, the vestige is that it’s not perfectly green, I guess is a way to say it.

Coach:        OK, so there’s a little reminder. And would it be OK if that reminder was a memory of how you used to be, which reminds you to be calm instead of that other way?

(The first part of this is a nice hypnotic invitation to categorize the “vestige’ as a “memory of how things used to be,” which puts the old way into the past, and consolidates the change. However, “instead of that other way” invites her to re-elicit the problem state again, so that’s not useful.

In the tempo shift protocol, all that is done is to slow down the tempo, and that is sufficient to elicit a new response.)

Client:         Right, right, right, umhmn.

Coach:        And assured. OK, so now as you think of this meeting, yeah as you think about the meeting, see if you can get the anxiety back.

(“Think about the meeting” is an invitation to intellectualize. “Imagine you are in the meeting” would be more specific. I prefer to first ask an open-ended question, “What do you experience?” which invites the client to respond with whatever they experience. If the process didn’t work, and she is still anxious, then asking “see if you can get the anxiety back” would be a serious mismatch of her experience.)

Client:         It’s totally gone. I’m not anxious right now. My feet are on the ground literally—literally and figuratively.

Coach:        So now take a moment and be grounded, and remember we used to talk about compassion being tender, fierce, mischievous, that sort of—

(The above seems to me to be totally irrelevant to the stated outcome of the session, introducing content that may not fit for the client. Likewise what follow seems to be a meandering way to future-pace. Since the purpose of the session was to resolve the client’s anxiety in a meeting, the simple and direct way to do this is to say, “Imagine being in that meeting, and tell me how you experience it now,” to confirm that the new response is immediate and spontaneous. That would get the job done, and make what follows unnecessary.)

Client:         Yeah.

Coach:        —think of your competence, the times when you have been grounded, that experience of you in your realm being responsive rather than reactive, with the full range of compassion.

(I think compassion is great, but I don’t see how it’s relevant here.)

Client:         Right and I think that that’s— I’ve got that, and I think that it’s reminding me that my feet on the ground is important.

(The client returns to her own statement of the change she noticed, “my feet are on the ground” without mentioning the other things suggested, which adds to the likelihood that they are not particularly relevant to her.)

Coach:        Grounded.

Client:         Literally.

Coach:        Now take a moment and just sort of internalize that experience

(“Sort of” weakens the outcome of internalizing the experience.)

of being really grounded, and now imagine having this meeting with these folks, being really grounded. And play that through like a movie, where you’re the lead character in the movie, not just watching yourself, but actually being yourself fully grounded.

         (“Play it like a movie” suggests being separated from it rather than being in it; at best it’s ambiguous. And “not just watching yourself” is a negative command creating ambivalence. Better to say something positive like, “Imagine being in that situation now, seeing out of your own eyes, and find out how that scenario unfolds spontaneously.)

Client:         Yeah, I mean I have a vision of myself being solid, you know—

         (“A vision of myself” indicates seeing herself in the situation, rather than being in it, which is necessary for a dependable future-pace.)

Coach:        And take a moment and imagine some other situation with some other people where you need to be this grounded and just imagine doing the same thing, playing a movie of you being grounded in the future.

         (Again “playing a movie of you being grounded” is ambiguous at best, suggesting seeing herself. And since she is in “some other situation with some other people where you need to be this grounded,” “in the future” directs her attention to a future beyond that, which isn’t useful.)

Client:         Right, I got that.

Coach:        OK, cool. And now take a moment and go back in time to a situation where it would have been really good to have had this resource and just do the same thing, play it through like a movie as though you’re in the movie as the lead character but having this resource so we can use one of those past memories as a learning lab.

(This is fine, but out of order. Better to revise 1-3 past memories before doing a future-pace.)

Client:         Yeah, I got that, and for me it’s a really good image because it’s like I’m taking up my space. I mean that in a really good way. I’m holding my space. My space is mine.

Coach:        Yeah, and you’re fully inhabiting your body and your being.

         (Nice reinforcement of the associated experience.)

Client:         Yep.

Coach:        And I should have done this a couple of moments ago,

(This is distracting, and not useful.)

but is there any situation that you could think of where this would not be appropriate?

(“This” is ambiguous, and “not be appropriate” is a negation, possibly causing the confusion that follows. Better to state this in the positive. “Can you think of any context in which you would want to have the old feeling, or some other response?”)

Client:         Yes, I mean I think that this would not be appropriate in, um—you mean—

         (The client is confused by the preceding ambiguities.)

Coach:        Some kind of contextual limit and I don’t know—

(“Contextual limit” is unclear, and jargon.)

It may not be but I think of helping someone to be assertive and that we’re not actually doing that so much as we’re helping you to be grounded. It may not be the most beneficial to be assertive if you were in a 7-Eleven that was being robbed.

(The example of a robbery would be fine in a teaching context, but bringing in assertiveness is suggesting content that distracts from the simple question, “Can you think of any context in which you would want to have the old feeling?”

Client:         Yeah, and I think I was actually thinking of the opposite if I had to, because it’s not about being grounded but it’s about being active, because what we’ve just done makes me feel calm and not inactive, but not a lot of frenetic energy. When we talked about the anxiety it was very frenetic and fast to me. So this seems very slow and deliberate, slow and deliberate. So I actually thought the only place that I can imagine—well no it’s not true. I was thinking if a building suddenly caught on fire I would still need to be deliberate. I might not need to be slow—I could be fast and deliberate.

Coach:        Yeah, and just to sort of be aware that it seemed to be a pretty safe generalizable state

(What does it mean to “sort of be aware”? “A pretty safe generalizable state” is jargon. Better to say something like, “Being aware and grounded is a useful resource in almost any situation.”)

but there are times when maybe not like you said when you have to really— Well, I think there are times when there’s life and death where we need to act promptly, quickly, instantly if you like, and we can deal with the issues when we got people to a place of safety. Now so just take a moment and

         (There have been quite a few times earlier when “take a moment” has been used without being particularly useful.)

with that in mind this seems to be a state that you would like to keep.

(“A state that you would like to keep” is somewhat dissociated and jargon. Better to say, “So you are fully satisfied with your new response.”)

Client:         Yes, definitely, definitely.

Coach:        Cool. Brilliant.

Client:         Can you come to my meeting with me?

Coach:        I don’t think you’ll need me, but here’s what I would— Just take a moment and thank yourself for your ability to learn and the resources that are within you to make these changes.

(This is a nice suggestion to view the change she made as a part of her identity, in contrast to just a change in behavior.)

Client:         That’s a good reminder.

Coach:        Ahah, Cool. Well I think we’re done.

Client:         I think we’re done, too.

Coach:        I look forward to hearing how it goes.

Client:         Thank you very much. Thank you.

Coach:        You’re welcome.

Client:         Take care. See you next week.


Remember that despite all my comments, this session was very successful. Your clients want you to succeed with them, and they will often respond to what you mean, not what you say. Still, the middle word in NLP is “linguistic.” The words you say are important, especially in a phone session in which your gestures aren’t available to clarify the inevitable ambiguities in speech.

Furthermore, the as just words of sequence a sentence as in important is, the sequence of steps in leading a client through an effective intervention is just as important. Being precise makes it easier for your clients to change, and that makes your work with them easier and more satisfying for you as well.


Coach’s comments in response

Thanks Steve for the detailed review; it has been very helpful in several ways. Three things that I am really aware of:

  1. Reading the verbatim itself shows that I could be more precise in my language, eliminating phrases such as “sort of,” “take a moment,” and other verbiage that muddle the directions.
  2. Most of my clients are participants in my training programs and I am confusing teaching with coaching. While I am a teacher, when I am working with a client I need to be working with the client and their experience and not teaching them about their experience. “Negative mantras,” and “8 track recordings” would fit into the “teaching about the experience,” rather than eliciting and working with the client’s experience.

Paying attention to 1 and 2 would make me more present with the client and my work with them more precise, efficient, and effective.

  1. Specifically with respect to anxiety: In most anxiety situations the critical submodality is the tempo of the voice. When I first learned the process I learned the auditory to visual shift and changing the tempo or speed of the visual representation, which in most cases is unnecessary. We can simply adjust the tempo of the voice to a speed which does not evoke the feeling. What we want to be doing is giving the person the freedom to control the voice and while they still can hear the voice they can chose whether to listen to it or pay attention to the voice. While the voice and its tempo is the critical Submodality, what we test for in outcomes is not the voice and whether it can be heard, but whether the person can put themselves into the original context and feel the anxious feeling. I think in the past I have focused too much on what happened to the voice rather than what was happening to the feeling.

Once again thank you for refining my skills and the elegance of my work.