Anita discusses an NLP and relationship case study with NLP trainer Michael Beale

Michael : I’m very pleased that we’ve got Anita with us today who is going to talk us through a really interesting case study that she has worked on about somebody whom had difficulty maintaining a difficult relationship – And how she worked with it. But firstly if I could welcome Anita to the podcast and just ask you to say Hi.

Anita : Well hello. It is nice to talk to you again – It is always a pleasure Michael. And the weather here is wonderful.

Michael : What is wonderful in Canada?

Anita : Well Canada is a big country – Anything that is sunny and above twenty degrees Celsius is considered incredible – so it is an incredible day today.

Michael : Excellent – Now – Other than that you live in Canada, would you like to tell our listeners a little bit about you?

Anita : About myself? I reside in Edmonton and operate from Edmonton. I’m a licensed trainer here – we have a company called Live With Power NLP Seminars where we teach programs of practitioner level and master practitioner levels – Business consultancy – in house trainings.

Lately I did some seminars for therapists in a maximum security prison. Coaching and just expanding this wonderful area of knowledge that we call NLP.

Michael : Excellent. If I could ask you to go straight into this case study – As I say, we’re talking about somebody who was unable to maintain an intimate relationship – Can you describe the current situation? What was their problem?

Anita : The problem was – individually and genetically he was a highly professional man who was married for over twenty years in a stable economic situation with three grown up children who came to me saying he was on the brink of divorce and he didn’t know why – because his wife said that their relationship was dead – she did not feel listened to, and that their communication was poor.

And he himself had absolutely no clue that there was a problem. So he came because he wanted to save the marriage and to adopt new strategies to take this relationship to a better level.

Michael : And what do you think would have happened if he didn’t do anything?

Anita : I was certain that divorce was imminent because I did talk to his wife – eventually I did have the opportunity to – and they were on the brink of divorce and this situation was escalating to a point of no return.

So when he came, I would say that he was close to the last moment.

Michael : This I find fascinating. For you doing your role, this situation happens – What were your own objectives in this situation? What do you want to achieve when somebody comes to you in that situation?

Anita : Firstly I need to understand what the problem was and then I would always look at the so-called problem – The structure of the problem – How did it happen? And what would be the key elements that would make it into a problem?

Obviously that was a question that needed a lot of communication between them which would lead to a misunderstanding, disguising good intentions – So my objective was to eliminate those problems and to be able to facilitate change at a level where they miss each other.

Michael : And right at the beginning, what would you have hoped would be the end result? Or what possible end result would you be looking at as you started – But only as you had enough to understand the basics of what it was about.

Anita : Well the end result for me would have been that these two people would be able to sit down and to understand each other. That they would be able to find real fire in the relationship that obviously must have been there otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place.

And for them to understand that sometimes what we believe, may not be the case. Because sometimes people assume that there are certain problems when all there is is a misunderstanding.

So my objective would be that their relationship would be saved and that they would find common grounds.

Michael : Excellent. OK – What did you actually do? You’ve got the client in front of you – You’ve got this situation – What did you actually do?

Anita : Of course, when I first got in contact with him I needed to find out exactly how this lack of intimacy, and this poor relationship – what exactly did it mean? Was it a problem? In his view it wasn’t a problem, the only problem was that he was puzzled as to why his wife considered it a problem.

And then as I was talking to this fellow – as always when talking to clients – I was calibrating him as an individual and creating my own models of what could possibly be the problem. And I had an inkling talking to him that even very simple things could be a problem, which I decided to test and I found out that it was.

Which was, that this particular person did not access his visual modality. It was as simple as that. His main problem was that he was in his audio modality basically all of the time.

He resembled a computer – His eyes were going horizontally, his tonality was so that if he heard two tones it was a song -And there was this robotic particular quality of his speech as well as the fact that he was using tremendous number of normalizations – and he came across as almost rehearsing something that had already been said.

Michael : And what impact did this have?

Anita : What has happened is that – My hypothesis was, that I wanted to test (I wasn’t sure what would happen.) but in this case that if a person remains in an auditory modality, obviously the way that they translate information that comes to them from the external world in an auditory fashion – in other words – in order for something to have a meaning they have to obviously put it in front of them in terms of filing systems from which they bring it back in a form of words.

So in my hypothesis was that this person was really in a position where he was very good at processing himself out of his feelings – with the absence of visual modalities – Which I decided to test -and at the end of the whole process I decided I was right.

Michael : How did you test it?

Anita : Well I utilized what I had available. So what I did – I had a copy of a magazine in my hand – Man’s World which happens to have a lot of pictures in it – So I tore out a piece of paper which had a photograph and I told these words to the man – In this case I said ‘What I’m going to (Let’s call him Doug) I’m going to show you a picture and what I will ask you to do is for you to look at it and I will ask you to remember what is on it – and I want you to use visual words – and I will keep it in front of your eyes for a couple of minutes and after that I will remove it and I will ask you to tell me what you have remembered.”

Which I did. So as I showed him the picture I was watching his eyes – They were going horizontally from ear to ear, which is an interesting way of observing things. However there is no commonality of how people observe information.

After two minutes I removed it, and I asked what it was that he had remembered. And he again, switched to the robotic state, and in very even tones, in almost rhythmic fashion said something like this : “There is a man with a child sitting on his back.” And carried on in this fashion, and then stopped.

And I said to him – “Is there anything else?”

And he said No. His mind was completely blank.

So my hypothesis was, that this man, when he was looking at images, he is translating them immediately into words which he then files inside his internal systems, in terms of syntax, which he then brings out as if it were just a verbal or an auditory message – He does not remember images or pictures – He just doesn’t see what’s in front of him because he goes straight into the auditory modality – Which would have certain implications within the relationship, because in order to connect we need to see the person that we’re with.

So I said “OK – I will do something else.” I tore out another piece of paper of photograph out of this magazine and said “What I will ask you to do now is to look at this photograph that I have put in front of you – I want you to pay attention to what you see – and I want you to tell me when to remove it – When you’re satisfied that you remember what is on it – and only when you tell me to do so.”

So I did that and I was watching his eyes and I started noticing different eye movements which gave me a clue that perhaps he was paying attention visually – starting to see things – So after about two and a half minutes and I asked what it was that he remembered seeing on that picture.

And he said “Well there was a cat…” and he began to return to how he was before – thinking auditorily – But then you could see his eyes look upwards and he said ‘Oh yeah there was this green tree there and there was a flower.” and he began describing many more things on it.

And I said ‘Anything else?’ and when I looked at his eyes I could see that he was actually looking, searching for an imagine – and then he gave me ten different pieces of information that were all correct, including a piece of text that was written at the bottom of it. It was a far more comprehensive report than before – which confirmed my belief that this man basically did not access his visual modalities, because in this case he was instructed to do so – He did so, which lead to a more comprehensive memory of what it is that he saw.

At this point I said ‘Very good. Now, I would like to go back to one time when you were dating your wife, to a time when you were really happy with her – Times when you had wonderful experiences together.

Go back to a time like that – one such time, or even two times – tell me about it. Tell me what it was that you saw – Tell me about the circumstances and what did you see?”

So he went into his way of reporting things and then he says ‘Oh yeah, she was wearing a blue dress.’, ‘Yeah she was kind of vibrant and happy.’. He began to describe things – and I said ‘Ok, what else is it that you saw?’

And his eyes began to look for images and it obviously wasn’t easy for him to see at first, but then we went into this picture, this recollection, and then I said ‘So now you already know what it’s like to be happy with your wife and you see this beautiful woman next to you – Is it fair to assume that this is the same woman that you were dating then?’

And he started laughing. “It is the same woman, absolutely.”

“And so the next time you look at this woman, look at her the way that you did then, and see all of those things that you saw in her before – The different facial expressions and the different things that she does – maybe the twinkle in her eye and so on.”

So we talked quite a long time about seeing things in this relationship, and he said “Well, I forgot how to look at her – If I was really busy with my work, I forgot, I didn’t do it. I suppose that I neglected her.”

I said “Well it’s not that you neglected her its just that you were paying attention to different things.”
So I said “When you go home tonight and she opens the door, just look at her the way that you did those days and see that woman in front of you – and for the next few days pay attention to the things that you see, and acknowledge it.”

Which he did.

And then he called me three days later and said that it had made all of the difference in the world – He didn’t even see her, he was busy doing things. So his relationship with this woman had been strictly from an auditory modality point of view – It is an interesting consideration.
And he needed to retrain himself in order to see – So by interjecting in this case, through a very simple intervention that didn’t require tremendous amount of intervention because the basic foundation was there – and it made all of the difference – They went out and he was holding her hand and he was telling her how beautiful she was – and starting to notice different things about her that he took for granted and ignored in the past which led to a renewal in their connection.

Michael : Excellent. And what do you think – Looking back at the whole thing – The fact that he is now doing this – What do you think it will mean for the future?

What difference do you think the work that you have done will mean for him as time goes on?

Anita : Even though it was a very very simple element, extremely simple – as simple of an intervention that one can imagine – it’s going to make a difference in the sense that this man will be able to access his emotions and be able to be more present in the moment, because in the past he talked himself out of feeling – He was very efficient at work and at what he did in his accounting job, but he was inactive in the relationship because he approached people in same fashion as he approached data.
He talked his way out of feeling and out of intimate connection with people.

Michael : And is there anything – having done this intervention – that he will need to be able to maintain it and grow it?

Anita : I did see him a couple of more times and of course we expanded upon this original intervention. I did spend some time with him helping him to retrain and access his visual modality. He took it very seriously as it made a big difference in his immediate relationship – He will be able to take it with him and apply it with different relationships with people that require more of an intimate connection than let’s say, data at the office.

He also reported significance increase in his satisfaction in relating to his children, where he had also talked himself out of connection.

Michael : To bring this case study to a close, is there anything you’d like to add or anything that you’d like to emphasise – What are the important learnings?

Anita : The important learnings are that each case study, each client, is different – and that the structure of the problem in almost all of my cases is different. So we need to approach the client with an open mind and be flexible with what the structure of the problem really is. And without any preconceived ideas as to what intervention might be appropriate.

Because until we do deliberate the structure and the problem it is very difficult to be successful unless we have done so. So when I saw this client, I did not expect any particular anything – other than to be open minded and to listen to what he had to say.

And only at that moment when I was satisfied, and I understood the structure of this problem, which was quite simple – was I able to intervene in a fashion that was appropriate to him.

Michael : Thank you very much for explaining that to us.


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