I believe Richard Bandler, co-originator of NLP, first devised this technique. That such a simple process can do so much for so many who have suffered for so long is truly extraordinary. As you learn the steps involved in doing the process “by the book,” notice the underlying principles which have been assembled to make this work. As you learn to recognize and think about applications of these underlying principles, you, too, may create a powerful piece of change work.
1. Establish rapport: always the first step.
2. Reframe the problem state as a demonstration of the client’s creativity, power, and capacity to learn. Watch for the contemplative shift that should occur. “Hmmmm.” (Remember discussions of this in subpersonality work? We facilitate change by finding pure intent, separating the behavior from the intent, noticing all the power, creativity, and learnings that were utilized to create the problem behavior. Generate a new appreciation of these in the light of the pure intent to inspire generation of new beneficial behaviors.)
Most people learn to be phobic during just one experience that was genuinely dangerous or that was perceived as dangerous. Generating such a quick, powerful, and lasting learning is a wonderful capacity of your mind, that you can appreciate, now, even though, in this instance, the learning has had its drawbacks.
But you can appreciate that your unconscious mind has only been trying to protect you, and that, with new learnings, it will be able to use all that power and capacity to learn and generate powerful responses to reevaluate and create even better and more effective and appropriate protective responses.
Isn’t that right?
Yes, all we want to do is enhance its ability to care for you appropriately by increasing its learnings and understandings.
3. Partially trigger the phobic reaction. The reason for doing this is to give you the opportunity to recognize and calibrate the physical signs of phobic response for later testing and evaluation. “What makes you phobic? What if it were here right now?” As the client moves into it, break state: tell her to stop imagining that; stand her up if necessary, etc.
4. Instruct her in the creation of a double dissociated state. Use the movie theater model.
a) Imagine sitting in a theater looking at a blank screen (or a black and white snapshot of yourself on the screen).
b) Now float out of your body and up into the projection booth, where you can see yourself sitting in the theater seat down there, and you can also see the snapshot of yourself on the screen out over there.
It can be helpful to anchor her in the booth so she doesn’t pop into the seat or the screen. Tell her to imagine a clear Plexiglas barrier in front of her, which lets in all the sights and sounds. Have her put her hands on it and feel it while she watches what happens next.
5. Instruct her to pick a time when she had the phobia: the first, the worst, or a recent time.
a) Tell her to run a black and white movie of the event on the movie screen.
b) Tell her to watch the whole event starting before the beginning of the phobic response, through to after the end of it when she felt better. Make it a black and white movie with sound, running at normal speed.
c) Tell her to watch that younger self over there going through the experience. Watch it as a detached observer, even as a stranger. As needed, emphasize that she is safe in the booth, feeling the glass with her hands, while also noticing the other self in the theater seat watching. It’s just a movie.
d) Instruct her to run the movie to the end of the situation and stop the film on the last frame, like a snapshot, and to tell you when she has done that.
6. Instruct her to leave the booth and float into herself in the still picture on the screen. When she’s fully there, she should run the movie backward, in color, in about 2 seconds (make a sound indicating this: “Just run it back real fast…shooouuup!”), all the way back to the beginning.
7. When she indicates she has done it, test. Again ask a question that would have elicited the phobic response. “Here comes a snake slithering by your chair.” Calibrate the response. If there still is a phobic response, check with the client about how she ran the process. Take her back through it, making sure she does it correctly (steps 4-6). Repeat as necessary.
8. Ecology check. Discuss the need to learn about those situations, to reevaluate them now that the fear response is gone, so she can determine appropriate responses under the conditions. Encourage her to take their time carefully, as appropriate.
Technically, utilizing the phobia cure for trauma is simply a matter of combining it with regression (using timeline or any other regression theatrics). Take the client back to the incident but floating safely above it, and run phobia theater floating over the incident at this safe distance, running a movie of the incident.
Excerpt from Finding True Magic, Copyright 2006, Jack Elias, All Rights Reserved.
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