Timelines in NLP

Hello everyone! I know , I know I have been neglecting everyone of late after a blogging hiatus, however today I just know I’ll redeem myself with this blog.

An interesting exchange just occurred on our facebook page about timelines in NLP which has sprung me into action. In this blog I will briefly explain what a ‘timeline is’, break a few myths and explain where timeline techniques are particularly effective.

What is a Timeline?

There are many different names for timeline interventions including Timeline Re-patterning, Timeline Therapy, Time based technique and I’m sure the list goes on and on, what is true for all the above is that they are an incredibly powerful tool for changework. There are similarities and differences in the different models, but for purposes of today’s blog for simplicity we will simply call them NLP timelines.  NLP timelines are a technique where the Practitioner utilises a clients metaphors from the past with the intention of allowing the unconscious mind to feed ‘past’ representations to the conscious mind thus allowing the client/person/self to move on from events that may be holding them back. Often the clients representation will be of an event they have long forgotten, completely different that the one they may have pinpointed before the session. How the Practitioner elicits the timeline is a bit of a longer story and one that is taught on a live training, personally after eliciting how the clients organises time (past behind, left, right forwards etc..)  I assist them through self hypnosis in constructing their timeline. 

Now what is important to remember is that a timeline is a construction, memories change over time and are heavily distorted and deleted, a great example of this is when a group of friends/family recount a particular tale from the past each person tends to have differences in how they remember the event, similar things occur with our own memories. The intention of doing this kind of process is not to delete the file or past representation, it is to gather the learning’s and allow the client to move on if the event is holding them back or simply to be educate about the event. This often gives people a sense of freedom, relief and closure. As a Practitioner we are looking at the structure of the memory not the content, what specific sensations is the client experiencing? Are they associated or dissociated? Any other driving submodalities? The reason we utilise an event just before the representation we are working with is to give us a clear distinction as to the differences in how the client represents A from B and what can be learned from each in order to get the result.

Myth Busting:

-There is no such thing as a timeline, a timeline is a metaphor, a conscious construction utilised as a very effective intervention.
-Memories change over time, what comes up may have happened it may not of, for the purpose of the intervention if really doesn’t matter as long as it helps the client/self.
-Not all timelines are visual, they can be spatial or auditory.
- We do not always need to work with past events in order for someone to get the difference of experience in the context they are working with.

Areas of Application:

This is incredibly varied; I have never just used a timeline process in a session on its own. In my humble opinion they are best utilised when complimented with other techniques, particularly after the intervention. A New Code game is a great way of building present and future resources after cleaning up a past event. This type of intervention is an excellent pattern identifier, what I mean by that is if the same thing keeps cropping up time and time again we will be able to calibrate this through a timeline, identify the secondary gain from the behaviour and get to work with it! Timelines are excellent when a client continually brings up the past, abuse, addictions, smoking, drinking ect… What it enables us to do is pinpoint when specifically did the person first represent themselves as a ‘smoker’, addict ect… this is often before they took their first drag on a cigarette, sip of alcohol…..

Calibration and patience is a key

A timeline process can take between 5 minutes and in some cases hours, patience is key here as it will take as long as the client needs, what is integral is that the practitioner elicits the very first time this context was represented. It can be quite an emotional procedure before and after so please act with empathy and stay with the client throughout. This is not an intervention I recommend to anyone who is not already a trained NLP practitioner as calibration is key here in firstly getting the change and secondly and most importantly ensuring the clients emotional and physical safety. Building a safety anchor is vital before the technique so if the client goes into an unwanted, unresourceful state you can utilise a safety net for them.

Thanks for your time

I hope this has been of some use to you, if you wish to learn more about timelines the best place really is a Premier Practitioner and Master Practitioner course where you will learn various timeline models, expert training all in a safe environment to really ensure that you are ready for when you use this with other. It really is an incredible technique to have at your disposal and one that has helped so many people all around the world.

Until next time