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Therapy Skills: NLP

After using body therapy, language skills or some other style of therapy the emergence of specific parts can become evident to the therapist. These are unconscious parts of the person often projected onto others or maybe lost aspects of self like a childhood-traumatized part.

Part terminologies

  1. An abstract 'part' like a mood, dream symbol or an inner tension or knot.
  2. Or a personified part like a parent or a boss or even a 'sub-personality' of themselves such as a child part, scared part, busy part or a strong part.


  1. Externalized-internalized. The 'part' can be externalised in therapy or worked on intra-psychically. (Within self)
  2. Independent or with therapist. The client can work with the part themselves or by varying degrees—involve the therapist.
  1. Intra-psychic “be the part inside yourself”- (passive gestalt). For Example you could ask the person to imagine themselves becoming The “screwed up knot feeling in their belly” with guided imagery. Technically this could be depicted: where their conscious Is merged or ‘contained in the ‘part’.
  2. Relay information from the part to the therapist (NLP)
  3. Interact with part via external chair (Gestalt)

    (Pt. Could be mother, child self, boss or mood- depicted as projected onto chair.)

NLP "Parts" Dialogue

This skill is one of a package of skills from the Neurolinguistic Programming model (NLP). We are not addressing the theory from this model because you will find it fits with the surrounding ethos within Criterion 2 and hence will need little introduction. The parts dialogue is only itself a part of the wider NLP model.

  1. Name the part
    1. Need to find a functional/meaningful name i.e. the confused part. The name should be clear to both of you in a functional sense.
    2. Seek the client's agreement on the suitability of this name—does it sound right to them.
  2. Positive role assumption—suggest to the client that this part has played a positive/protective role for the client. This may not be consciously understood by them or you (therapist). (The client is often hostile towards this part, so it is important to be direct with the client and tell them the part is trying to be helpful.)
  3. Reassurance—explain to the client before proceeding that your intention is not to get rid of the part, but to understand it's role.
  4. Explain Procedure—Explain to the client that this is a direct dialogue with their unconscious, it's a semi-hypnoidal technique, "though you don't lose control of the situation, you can even keep your eye's open if you want". Explain that the procedure therefore requires an unusual type of dialogue (this should be emphasized with sceptical clients)
  5. Making Contact—In the early stages, the therapist needs to get a series of 'wins' or agreement from the part, which serves to ensure the process progresses forward.
    1. "Go inside of your mind quietly and ask the 'confused part' if it is willing to talk.
    2. Explain to the client that "Many people don't get actual words like yes or no, but get an impression or feeling that it's OK. Everyone is different."
    3. Could you do that now? (Here the therapist is seeking a yes, or a 'win') (if you get a 'no', just ignore this and keep on going, because this is a type of response anyway—any communication—is a communication!)
    4. Thank the part—this step should be emphasized if the person is still quite resistant i.e. expand on this by thanking the part for taking the risk to talk to us.
    5. Preliminary Questions
      1. Can you ask the part how long it has been around?
      2. Is the part aware of it's reasons for it's confusion?
      3. Is the part able to tell you that reason now? (seeking another 'win')
      4. Can the part do that now? (seeking another 'win')
      Keep these questions as simple as possible. Brief and childlike.


  1. Repeat 5b to 5d for eliciting other mechanisms (parts) and dealing with mechanisms if they emerge i.e. a cooperating part may need to be elicited to perform key 'real-life' functions—for example, a cooperating part could block threatening images from being seen by a scared part.
  2. Eliciting other parts. You will find that there are other parts that can be called on as resources to help 'closure'. For example "a creative part, a strong part, an imaginative part, a part where you felt you were in control—in command."
  3. You should work independently with each part as if you were a type of 'switch operator'. Checking that each part was aware of what the other part said- offered and so on. "So is the scared part aware of the strong part's offer to help? Does the scared part accept the help? Are both parts willing to put this into action? Could you imagine what this would be like in reality?
  4. If content emerge that suggest other models, break procedure, and go with more suitable technique.
  5. At the end of the session, regardless of the intervention, check that all parts are happy with what has been agreed, and reinforce in a positive direct way what has been agreed upon.
  6. Ask the client "When you're comfortable and ready, just prepare yourself to come back into the room, with the bright lights overhead."