How To Know What NLP Technique To Use

Figuring out what technique you can use is one of the trickier challenges many NLPers face.

The exact number of techniques vary from over 200 to over ten thousand, according to some sites. So the question becomes how can I decide what to use, when?

The answer to this is easier than most people realize.

Firstly, all of the techniques of NLP are made up of only a handful of core patterns, which have been used over and over in slightly different ways. So there really isn’t several hundred, or indeed thousands of entirely unique techniques. Often what is described as a “new technique” is really just a variation or expansion of an old one.

Keeping Things Simple:

Human beings only have five senses, of which we have two primary modes of using them… internal representations and external representations.

For example with visual sensory system, i.e. stuff you can see, we can either

1) see something external to us (we call that visual external) or we can

2) imagine in our minds seeing something (we call that visual internal). The same applies to each of the other sensory systems.

Yes there are some core nuisances to understand about each sensory system (sub-modalities for example) and about how human beings wire things up and create their experience of reality (which is outside the scope of this article but covered in our Platinum Audio News Club), but the reality is there are only a core set of patterns that drive all the techniques.

Asking A Different Kind Of Question:

Even if you don’t know yet what these are, how can you decide what technique to use with yourself or others?

Ask yourself this question:What is the function I am looking for, in order to achieve my desired state?

You see, broadly speaking, all of work we do with NLP could be described as the process of:

  • Quantifying and qualify the desired state (DS) followed by the present state (PS)
  • Identify what resources you need to move from the present state to the desired state
  • Then apply those resources and modify your approach based on the feedback

So let’s say that you have had some trauma in the past and every time you think of X event you instantly start feeling scared/angry/tearful etc. (PS)

Well one of the basic rules of thumb in NLP is if you want to feel something more you associate into it, but when you want to feel something less intensely, it is generally wise to disassociate from it.

One point worth noting is that the function you choose will be dependent on the description you use, the frame of reference you have created to describe the “problem state”.

So let’s apply that rule of thumb to this situation. If you experienced some trauma and it is still bothering you, but wish it didn’t, you want to feel neutral about it (DS), a good idea is to disassociate from it.

So now that we know the function that we want (disassociation), we can pick up any NLP technique book and start scanning for NLP techniques that primarily use the function of dissociation to create the end effect.

A quick scan of any pattern book we find techniques like:

  • The triple dissociation technique
  • The resolving internal conflict pattern
  • The advanced visual squash pattern
  • The dis-identification pattern
  • Change personal history pattern
  • Various time-lining patterns such as the re-imprinting technique
  • Etc. etc

As you can see, there are numerous NLP techniques that function on a pattern of dissociation, which we can leverage for our purpose of un-sticking a traumatic experience.

Get it?

Rather than asking “what technique should I use?” ask yourself “what function am I looking for?”, then use the technique books of NLP to identify patterns that provide that function. Once you have found them start using those techniques on the problem state.

Change Vectors: Giving Yourself Even More Options...

One point worth noting is that the function you choose will be dependent on the description you use, the frame of reference you have created to describe the “problem state”.

Without going into a lot of detail, in NLP we have multiple ways of describing a problem state. Some will be more useful than others in certain situations. Using the example of overcoming a trauma we could describe it reporting on the:

  • The sensory patterns, e.g. visual representation, associated, very close etc.
  • The strategy syntax, e.g. Ve -> Vir -> K-The meta-programs patterns, e.g. associated, past oriented, re-active etc.
  • The language patterns e.g. every time, always, never (universals), life, freedom, frozen (nomilizations) etc.
  • The state patterns e.g. anxiety, fear, helplessness etc. which are embodied as rush of energy starting in the pit of their stomach and moving up their throat etc.
  • The physiology patterns: fast breathing, shortness of breath, off-balance etc.

Here we have six different descriptions we could use to go about transforming the PS to the DS. If you primarily describe it as a sub-modality issue (too much associated) then what function you will use will be different that if you primarily describe it as a strategy problem vs. say a state problem.

In reality you are actually describe the same effect (the traumatic responses) but doing it from different angles. So now you have multiple “change vectors”, to go about transforming the PS on.

If we now ask the question “What’s the function?” that will help us move the PS description to the DS, we have many more options… as seen below:

  • The sensory patterns – we can use a dissociation pattern, as already outlined above.
  • The strategy syntax – prevent the strategy from running or re-engineer the old one
  • The Meta Programs patterns – use the Meta Program change pattern to become dissociated, at choice, present time frame oriented
  • The language patterns – use the Meta Model and Sleight of Mouth patterns to “bust up” the generalization and way the person is binding their trauma experienceThe state patterns – use kinesthetic swish or “dissociate and spin the feelings” pattern
  • The physiology patterns – break their state e.g. get their heart pumping, evoke powerful resource states and collapse the negative anchor.

As you can see there are many vectors you can transform the problem state from. Some will get you further than others, combined you have a very powerful combination of interventions to get you or your clients to results.

Starting Today, Start Training Yourself To Ask:

What’s the function that is needed to transform the present state to the desired state?

Once you are clear on the function you are looking for, then use the many NLP techniques, frameworks and tools to get yourself to the desired result.

To learn more about how to use the technology of NLP with yourself to create more of the life you want, check out "Using NLP On Yourself To Create More of The Life You Want" here.

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I'm Tom.

Everyone has something they’d like to change in their life. I’m here to help you transform the behaviours that get in your way so you can have the life you really want.

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