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Articles & Ideas

Being Specific

Using NLP to Chunk Down for specifics in an EFT session

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Hi Everyone,

I often emphasize the importance of applying EFT to specifics. This is because the more specific we narrow down the issues, the greater our chances for success. NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) provides many tools for this and NLP expert Don Blackerby shares them with us in this article.

Hugs, Gary

By Don A. Blackerby, Ph.D.

In the preceding articles, we have covered rapport and how to get it initially, and how to recover it if you happen to lose it.  It is important to know that if you don’t have rapport with your client, then most of your well-intentioned EFT efforts and other interventions are NOT GOING TO WORK VERY WELL. 

Therefore, the foregoing articles on rapport techniques are not only necessary to know but are required to use to be successful with your clients, family, friends and co-workers.

So, now that you know what to do to get rapport and you are doing it with skill and grace, what else is there to do while practicing the EFT tapping processes.  To quote our old friend Gary Craig, the founder of EFT, “You need to get away from generalizations and get down to highly specific incidents and issues.”  You can do this best if you get rapport first, but then the question arises of “How to get down to the specific incidents or problems that under-gird the generalizations and need to be tapped on?” 

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) offers a very specific model for how to do this.  It is called the “Meta Model.”  What follows is a description of “Part I” of the Meta Model.  It is a series of questions designed to get at the specific sensory memories or incidents that support the generalizations in which we sometimes get lost and flounder around. 

For example, if somebody says, “I’m scared” or “I’m unhappy” we are left with very little to work with.  We don’t know what is scaring them or causing them to be unhappy.  We don’t know if it is another person, an object, a situation, or what the actions might be that are causing the emotional response. 

If we, with all the good intentions we can muster, ask the wrong question, we can get lost in even more generalizations and historical stories.  This further overwhelms us instead of directing us to the specifics which are causing the current and immediate emotional response. 

For example, if we ask them “WHY are you unhappy?” we are sometimes told of historical incidents which occurred years ago about being poorly “potty trained” or “sibling jealously”, as examples.  That leads us to chasing “rabbits down a rabbit path.”  This usually does not lead us to the real and immediate issues. 

The question “Why?” asks for imprecise and vague rationalizations.  But yet, “Why?” is one of our most common questions to ask when we don’t understand something.

Instead of asking “Why?” start building an internal image in your mind’s eye of what they are describing to you.  To do this, NLP practitioners are taught to ask the following questions of the client in an attempt to find the more useful specifics:


A.  Missing Facts:  Who or what is missing?  If we don’t know who or what is involved, we cannot picture in our minds the major characters or players or objects.  “I’m scared!” could be because of a charging elephant, a person with a knife, or a mouse.  To find out what is missing, we ask, “Scared of what or who, specifically?

And then we draw a picture in our minds of the person being scared of “the missing object or person.”  If we think that more people or objects are still missing, we ask again “Who or what else are you scared of?”  Sometimes the background or situation is important and is deleted by the client.  So we ask, “What is going on around you?” or “What is the context?” or “Situation?” 

B. Unspecified References:  If they use pronouns such as “him” or “her” or “they” or “it”, without being specific, we may ask “Who is “she” or “it”, etc. in order to clarify it in our mind.  Again, as an example, if we are drawing a picture, and they use the word him and there are several possible “hims” we have to ask for clarification as in “Which him, specifically?”.

C. Unspecified Actions:  When we are convinced we can picture the elements of the generalization, the question now arises about “What are they doing?” or “What are the actions or behaviors?”  In this instance, you are asking about the verbs in order to activate the pictures in your mind.  In this instance, you might ask “How fast are they coming at you with a knife?” or “Is the elephant running hard or lumbering?” or “Is the mouse chasing you or running in circles?” etc.  All of these questions help us fill in the details or specifics of our internal pictures of the actions that may be scaring them.

D. Unspecified Comparatives:  Occasionally we combine objects and actions in the form of comparatives, e.g., “John is the best!”, or “better” or “taller” or “worst” or “smarter.”  In this case we do not know what “John” is the best at or what the person or object is being compared to.  To clarify this we ask the question:  “John is better than whom and at what?” etc.  Now we can fill in our internal picture.

Exercise In threes. 

Strategy:  in this exercise, one person will describe an event or something that has happened to them in the recent past.  Keep it light - no heavy therapy.  The other two, imagine having to draw a cartoon strip or picture of the event (artwork is NOT important here). 

You get the details by asking questions related to DELETIONS A-D above.  The purpose is for the cartoon strips to depict accurately the event as far as possible. 

Designate which of three people will be 1) Story teller, 2) Asker of questions about DELETIONS A. and B., and 3) Asker of questions about DELETIONS C. and D.

Start exercise with 1) starting a story about some event that has happened in his or her life.  Person 1) describes the event … about one to three sentences at a time.  Persons 2) and 3) take turns filling in the details by asking questions regarding A-D above.  Person 1) only answers the questions that 2) and 3) ask.  After about 2-4 minutes, pause and discuss the process and then rotate roles until all three get to play each role.

Regards, Don

Note from Don Blackerby:  As in some of the previous articles on rapport, this skill greatly enhances telephone coaching.  The exercise can also be practiced in a conference telephone call.


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