25 Year Phobia Followup

One of the favorite criticisms of NLP is that it’s just a “Quick Fix.”

This is pretty amusing since it’s simply posing a false criterion: that to be valuable change must take some minimum period of time (Really? According to whom? How long would be long enough?So if it took one second less then it would be invalid? ;- ).

The right question is simply “does it work?”  This video solidly answers that question.

If it works, it takes what time it takes.  If you can do it in fifteen minutes, why would you want to take longer?

The first process in NLP that really got public attention was the Phobia-Trauma Process.

In those days, phobias were thought to be very hard to change.  The only known cure was desensitization.  This took months of sessions spent re-experiencing the traumatic event .  Somehow, that wasn’t very popular.  It wasn’t very effective, either.

Then therapists using NLP started reporting results in one session and sometimes in as little as 15 minutes.  This was greeted with great skepticism by the professionals.  In fact, when accepted at all it was usually with the disparaging comment “oh, it’s only a quick fix.”

This video is a brief follow up interview with a phobia subject TWENTY-FIVE YEARS later.   (You’ll find the written process instructions here.  You can see the original session with the same person here:

If a change that lasts twenty five years is a “quick fix” I’ll take as many as you have, thank you very much!

Oh, another complaint from those who pride themselves on their ability to doubt is that the only evidence provided by NLP practitioners is “anecdotal.”

That criticism would make sense for something like a process for generating electricity from the sun.  In creating change with NLP, we are changing people, and the only evidence is their word and the visible changes in their behavior.  (Coincidentally, however, the new field of neuro-science is verifying many of the things first noted in NLP.)  Of course, like any applied skill, it is as effective (and ethical) as the person using it.

When for over 30 years thousands of people report positive changes because of NLP processes, you have to conclude it works.

Or you have to conclude it is good at fooling most of the people most of the time for a very, very long time.

Which makes more sense to you?  That NLP processes work, or that NLP processes have successfully fooled people for decades.  That would include US government agencies, scientists at NASA, and  Fortune 500 companies like IBM, HP, Diner’s Club, and Sandler Systems.

Actually, if you want to believe it fooled all these people for all that time, then you are also admitting how powerful it is.

The benefits are profound and simple to apply. If you want a place to start, “NLP: The New Technology of Achievement” has been the most popular NLP title on Amazon for a decade. Best ordered as the “Get Started Now” Bonus pack includes 3 CDs for only $19.95

There’s also the abundant free resources in our library. www.nlpco.com/library with several articles on phobia processes.

The written process instructions that follow are the original classic version from our 24 Day Practitioner Trainer’s Manual, the one created for trainers to use to teach NLP effectively. (and it is on sale this week! 🙂

Oh, if you’d like to get the original NLP Phobia Video on DVD it’s available here – and in honor of this 25th anniversary I’ve put in on sale for $25.00 – over 1/3 off.



PS: We’ve got a lot of great new opportunities coming up for you this fall including: The biggest expansion of training offerings in our history New stories and articles about NLP from guest authors in areas like Fitness and Weight Loss, Building your Professional Practice, Master Mind groups, and more great NLP audio and videos! So stay tuned!

Fast Phobia Process  – from the “Trainer’s Edition” 24 Day NLP Practitioner Manual “

1.         Establish Rapport, and deliver two standard reframes:

a)   “Most people learned to be phobic in a single situation that was actually dangerous or seemed very dangerous.  The fact that you were able to do what psychologists call ‘one trial learning’ is proof that your brain can learn really fast.  That ability to learn fast will make it easy for you to learn a new response.”

b)   “The part of you that has been protecting you all these years by making you phobic is an important and valuable part, and we want to preserve its ability to protect you in situations that are dangerous.  All we want to do is refine and improve its ability to protect you by updating its information.”

2.         Access Phobic State.  (partially) by asking about it:

“When is the last time you freaked out?”

“What happens when you become phobic?”

“How do you know you have a phobia?”

Calibrate to the behavioral shifts (breathing, posture, facial expression, color, etc.) that occur when the phobic state is accessed, and use this information later when testing, in order to know when this state has been changed.

3.         Establish 3 Place Dissociation.

a)   “With your eyes open or closed, imagine you’re sitting in the middle of a movie theater and you see a still, black and white snapshot of yourself on the movie screen.”

b)   “Now float out of your body up to the projection booth, (or a seat at the back of the theater) where you can see yourself sitting in the seat, and also see the still, black and white snapshot on the movie screen.”  (Use hand gestures to keep all 3 places cleanly sorted.  Even when the client closes his eyes, gesturing will help keep your tonal shifts well sorted.)

4.         Run Black and White Movie.

“Now stay in the projection booth until I tell you to leave it, as you watch and listen to a black and white movie of yourself in one of those situations where you had this phobia.”  (You can have them watch the worst time, the first time (if it is remembered), or just a recent time.)  “I want you to watch the whole event, starting before the beginning of that incident to after the end of it, when everything was OK again.  Watch and listen as the younger you goes through that experience, while you simply watch as a detached observer, as if it had happened to someone else.  When you’re done with that movie, stop it as a still picture, and let me know, but keep your eyes closed.”

5.         Run Movie Backwards.

“Next I want you to leave the projection booth and step back into that still picture at the end (reassociate) and then run the movie of that experience backwards in color in about 1 ½ seconds, (make a sound indicating time length) all the way back to before the beginning of the unpleasantness.  OK.  Go ahead.”

6.         Testing and Future Pace.

Attempt to reaccess the phobic state in any way you can:

“What if you were in that situation now?”

“Imagine being in one of those situations right here.”

“When will you next encounter one of these situations?”

If you know content, you can be more detailed:  “What if a big hairy spider crawled out from under this table right now?”

Observe the non verbal response and compare what you see with your earlier calibration.  What had been a stimulus for the phobic state should now be no more remarkable than a table or a chair.

If you still get the phobic response, find out how the person may have not followed the procedure exactly (the person may have added or subtracted steps).  “What was it like when you did that?”  If they still have only a portion of the phobic response, have them repeat the procedure exactly, but faster each time, until none of the phobic response remains.

7.         Closing.

“Since you have been phobic, you have stayed far away from those particular situations in which you used to be phobic, so you haven’t had the opportunity to learn about them.  As you begin to encounter and explore these situations in the future, I want to urge you to exercise a certain degree of caution until you learn about them thoroughly.”

Discussion:  Sometimes the person consciously expects the response and may temporarily create some of it consciously, even though the cure has worked.  You may need to test again in a minute or two to get a clean response.

The 3 place dissociation is not absolutely essential, except perhaps for a really strong phobia.  Simple (2 place) dissociation will usually work as well if the client has difficulty with the three place dissociation.

Be sure the client’s posture and eye gaze is appropriate to dissociated visualization.  You can ask the client to put hands behind head and interlace fingers and look up, or directly mold the client’s posture, as a way to help access dissociation.

Sometimes you need to chunk down the stimulus further in very extreme phobias:  show top half of movie first, and then bottom half.  Show every 3rd minute, then 2nd and 1st minutes, show movie without sound, etc.  You may also need to use other submodalities to maintain the dissociation.

Strange example:  An epileptic client had a seizure when viewing the interrupted (chunked down) movie.  Presumably the flashing internal pictures triggered the seizure!  (Flashing external lights can elicit epileptic seizures.)

Generalization:  This method is great to know about for dealing with any traumatic experience, not just those labeled phobias.  It can be used for any unpleasant response that is too intense for change history.  This method is also great for helping people get over war experiences (“post traumatic stress syndrome”), rape, or abuse, or perhaps a bad experience with an “authority figure” that interferes with someone’s ability to do his job properly.  If a sales person had a really bad experience with phone calling, so now thinking about phone calling makes him get extremely nervous, this would probably fix it.

10 thoughts on “25 Year Phobia Followup”

  1. Tom, wondering if you would care to post this on hypnothoughts.com There was a discussion led by Roy Hunter about how totally ineffective this process is and only hypnosis will work. Apparently Richard Bandler studying over 1000 humans on exactly how they got rid of their phobia counts not. I have yet to “see” “The Fast Phobia Cure” not work. After all, NLP is based on what works, reduced to mathematical equations and codified so all can use it successfully. It is, therefore, proven to work from the get-go. This made me curious as to what hypnosis was doing with phobias so I bought a scriptbook. A totally different process for every different type of phobia and the TIME INVOLVED!! Goooo baaaack to the original event and let people wallow in terror so one can claim it worked. Once was more than sufficient IMHO.

    Yes, Stephen, we do believe in IN PERSON TRAINING. NLP is not something learned straight from a book. We have some very strange ideas in NLP as we use NLP to teach NLP. What a lovely concept. Sorry you missed the point completely. Tom certainly was not advocating that John, Harry and/or Mary go through the above and apply to clients without proper IN PERSON STUDY. Be well~Marjorie

  2. Well… You know Stephen, the phobia process, like so many NLP techniques, is actually hypnosis in disguise. Just go through the process yourself, neutrally, and you will know how it takes you from trance to trance, as the person going through it is taken to the time of the phobia and then asked to watch. Then asked to hallucinate certain things (especially if you try variations of this process) that will help untangle the trail of thought and eventually short circuit the pattern in the brain.

    Did we really have to know how gravity works ALL the time to depend on it in your everyday life?

    The original and basic NLP techniques continue to be the best way to go. You know, when you have a clientwith a phobia, you can use it and see how it works. You don’t even need to be an NLP practitioner. Use it with your hypnosis.

    Thanks for reading.

    Selo A.

  3. ‘One of the favorite criticisms of NLP is that it’s just a “Quick Fix.”

    … If you can do it in fifteen minutes, why would you want to take longer?’

    I think your answer sums up the difference between believers and non-belivers in NLP:

    We look for results while critics look for reasons why it shouldn’t work.

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