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Trance In Neuro Linguistic Programming For Smoking

Mar 15, 2008
Trance in Neuro Linguistic Programming

NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is a great method of creating personal change, either in ourselves or in a client if we are a coach, therapist, counselor or other change worker.

As a master practitioner and trainer of neuro linguistic programming and a certified hypnotist, I use both NLP and hypnosis to help clients. So what is the relationship between the two?

The fact is that NLP and hypnosis are very closely linked. Many hypnotists use standard NLP patterns when working with a client in trance. In addition, any NLP exercise is likely to involve the client focusing their attention inward and as such is likely to induce a trance state.

However there is a more subtle, and therefore more interesting link, between NLP and hypnosis when dealing with clients who have problems (rather than clients who simply want to focus on self-improvement). The fact is that any problem we face is a form of "trance". By problem I do not mean that we need to buy milk, or that we need to pay our rent, rather I mean a pattern of behavior that repeats itself seemingly outside our conscious control.

Suppose a client smokes cigarettes. He doesn't want to smoke. He wants to stop smoking. Yet he walks into the store and buys a pack of cigarettes. He sits in his car and opens the pack, pulls out a cigarette, puts it into his mouth, lights a match, lights the cigarette, and inhales. How is this possible when he doesn't want to smoke?

The answer is that he goes into a trance. The actions leading him to buy the cigarettes, or to light and smoke a cigarette, are performed by his unconscious mind, even if his conscious mind is screaming "stop it!" while he is doing it.

So how do we use this information? Firstly it tells us that there is likely little point in arguing with his rational conscious mind. That part of him already knows he shouldn't smoke. We can prove in any and every way possible the dangers and health risks, the costs both financial and social of smoking. It will do absolutely no good.

Of course, if the client comes for hypnosis, then we can induce trance and present arguments and convince the unconscious mind directly.

Otherwise we have to find another way of breaking the "smoking trance". One way of doing this is to induce a "non smoking trance" to counteract the "smoking trance" they already have. There are undoubtedly many great reasons the client has for wanting to stop smoking. We can discover these benefits by asking "What will you gain by being a non-smoker? How will your life be different?" Let's take an example:

"What will you gain by being a non-smoker?"
"I will be healthier"
"And when you are healthier, how will your life be different?"
"I will be able to play soccer with my son"
"And how will that be?"
"That will be fantastic! I'll be able to run round the park with him, I remember playing ball with my father..."

As the positive implications of the change are explored, the client enters into a positive experience, in this case an age regression to when he was young. This is a form of trance. So now we have two trances, the "smoking trance" and the "playing soccer with my son" trance. Which is the bigger trance? It is time to find out.

"That's right. You'll be able to play soccer with your son. That will be fantastic! Just like when you played ball with your dad. And as you feel that, and you think about seeing the cigarettes in the store, how do you feel?"
"Well, I wouldn't buy them..."

Call it battling trances. This is the key to personal change.
About the Author
Shawn Carson is a certified hypnotist and NLP Master Practitioner and Trainer. He is a director of the International Center for Positive Change and Hypnosis in New York City.
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