This excerpt illustrates the use of the Meta Model NLP technique to unravel the deep meaning behind the problem presented by a client. Very often people present problems which obscure a real problem.  They are not aware of the real problem, and focus on the surface level challenge they feel unable to overcome.

The most essential part of the NLP process of change is being able to ask questions that unravel the problem behind the client’s problem.  Unless we are able to unravel the real meaning of the problem, no NLP techniques for change, will work.

The session below was recorded in May 2012. The client’s main problem was overweight created by habitual over eating. We quickly discovered overeating was not the real problem. Loneliness was.

The Client

Ewa, 45 years old, single. Depressed and suffering frequent anxiety attacks. Complains of “feeling stuck” and not being able to “move forward”. Has had a history of several “bad” relationships where she felt “ignored” and “used”. She currently works as an administrative assistant at a large accounting firm. She told me she was hard working, disciplined and ambitious, but were “not able to get recognition or get a raise in years”. Her main challenge is compulsive overeating that led to obesity, which “is the problem” Her intent is to “lose weight”.  She wants to stop overeating.

Transcript (an excerpt)

You told me great many things about yourself. What specifically would you like to work on today?

I am grossly overweight and would like to get a handle on that. I want to lose weight and stop eating. I have been eating way too much and I know it.

What is too much, and of what?

Too much of everything, mainly sweet stuff. Also gravy and fat things. Once I start eating I just keep on eating and never stop, until I ate everything on my plate. I also reach for ice cream that is always in my fridge.

So, overeating was the problem. How specifically was that a problem for you?

I am getting fat and out of shape and can’t control it. I just can’t. It is like it take over.


How so?

I just feel it and reach for it and then it is too late.

So, you are telling me it is too late for what?

I already did it. I already ate all that stuff.

And how do you feel just after you overate?

I feel guilty and disappointed in myself. I hate myself. I feel I let myself down.

So, why did you do it again?

I just felt this need again.

What need?

To feel satisfied. Satisfaction, Pleasure. Kind of coziness. I know it sounds weird.

Comfort? So, I am hearing that when you were eating you were feeling comfortable. How did you know when to reach for that food?

I felt lonely, kind of anxious….

Lonely, anxious……perhaps alone in the world. Would I be fair to say, not recognized? Validated perhaps? NOT significant?

Yes, not significant…. just lonely, anxious

And you said to yourself “I am lonely, scared….” Is there anything you said to yourself, saw? Go back to that time.

I knew I wanted something…



How specifically?

Just comfortable

Okay. Imagine now that food was not available when you tended to overeat. The last time you remember that happening. Go back to that time? Bring back the moment when you started eating your favorite food. Comfort. Pleasure, joy…. Now. Imagine that being taken away. Or that not being there? HOW ARE YOU FEELING?

Bad, really bad

Okay. Now, if you had a magic wand, anything could happen. Anything you want. What would it be you would agree to have instead of that snack that night, that fatty dinner in front of TV, that chocolate you had?

Oh, warm arms around me, a loving person with me (cries)

Okay. Now. Imagine being with such a loving warm person. Are you thinking about the food?

No. (Crying)

So, it is not the food. It is your search for love. Food became your lover. You were feeling unloved, if I may…..


Further work with Ewa included reinstallation of self – worth. I discovered she was abandoned as a young child and felt unworthy of being loved. I used various hypnosis techniques to change her inner landscape and reconnect with her child within. That led to a profound shift in her self-perception.

(Here is the time to use NLP techniques of Reframing, and eliciting strategies to stop the behavior at the point just before doing it) and leading them to new ones.


Now, do you remember feeling loved?


(Yes or no)


If not, did they love anyone? Ever? How did they know? What is love to them? (Elicit the meaning here).




Access that feeling now. Elicit the Submodalities. Anchor it.


NOW you are ready to use processes to install a belief they are lovable and worthy of feeling loved just as all humans are and this is the expectation they came into this world with. The NLP technique Change Personal History is a great technique here. As a result, food will no longer be necessary as a replacement for the feeling. Also, here you may start changing the eating strategy and install a new strategy to gain control of the behavior.

Reframes you can use are:


  • If you were not lovable you, would not know that you are searching for love?
  • If you were not lovable, you would not be loving. Do you remember a time when you loved?
  • You knew you were worthy of asking for my help and of my time? And you had the courage to ask for it.


You can use the NLP techniques using timeline installation to get back to a time when they did feel NATURALLY deserving of feeling loved BEFORE any negative programming ever happened. Utilize that and anchor it. With that resource take them on a journey to NOW where they can SEE the world through a different lens of possibility JUST BECAUSE they are worth it.

Map it onto the future and imagine situations where in the past they would have felt unworthy being able to experience themselves in these situations feeling totally worthy. What is it like to feel worthy and lovable? As a result what can they do differently?

Once you have unraveled the client’s real problem and an internal strategy to get to a negative emotional state, you have a number of NLP techniques at your disposal to change that framework.

Once you have unraveled the client’s real problem and an internal strategy to get to a negative emotional state, you have a number of NLP techniques at your disposal to change that framework.