NLP Coaching Methodology from Jonathan Altfeld

Jul 9, 2021 | Cognitive Patterns, High Performance, Personal Change, Therapy/Coaching | 0 comments

Recently, on social media, an NLP Practitioner asked a question about an NLP Coaching client who reported having a phobia, and with whom he used the NLP Fast Phobia Cure, which may have partly worked, but it came back a few days later? He was asking for ideas on how to handle that.

This was my response. Hopefully it illustrates why great coaching results, when working with a deeply skilled coach, really aren’t accidental.

How Jonathan Altfeld thinks and goes about NLP Coaching:

Based on your initial question and the amended result makes clear that initially, you did not fully, completely, or accurately map the structure of the primary presenting problem.

Without us having been there, it seems/sounds that the first issues is that you accepted the client’s description of a phobia at face value. Don’t do that.  I don’t ever accept a client’s description of their presenting problem. I map its structure. And then I verify it. Poke holes in it. Challenge my own assumptions. And dance with that map, using clean language to ensure I’ve mapped it accurately.


Clients lie through their teeth. Constantly. Without knowing it!

Because, by virtue of the fact that they’ve come to you for changework or coaching, their conscious minds are likely not in congruence with their unconscious minds.

They often decide, before showing up, what they think will solve the problem. But if they could have solved the problem, they would have, on their own. Their prognosis for what would work best is usually bullshit.

“Deeply Respect the Individual. Don’t Respect their Bullshit.”

That’s my primary modus operandi as both when doing NLP Coaching, as well as when I’m acting as a GeniusMapper and GeniusMapping & NLP trainer. If you operate cleanly with that in mind, you won’t take anything you hear at face value, but you will structure your language with a deep underlying respect for their potential, their gifts, and their desired result(s), without any personal judgement about their less helpful (or dysfunctional) patterns.

I’d even say this is one of my biggest presuppositions when doing any NLP Coaching work.

Use the meta-model or whatever other tools you have to find out the hidden bigger wishes. The desired outcomes behind the desired outcomes. Don’t ever accept their stated desired outcomes as the ones they really, really want. Verify. Dig deeper.

Because the specific reason they came to you (e.g., “please use the NLP fast phobia cure on me”) is usually an example of a single “Means to an End.”

The “means to an end” that they SAY they want, is often not the best way…

Their means to and end is often not the best way to get the bigger desired result. It’s just what the client thinks will be best, but remember — they’re already and currently stuck. So why would I believe they know what’s best?!?

Having said all that, lets say the problem DID present like a true phobia (and I don’t do phobia cures, just to be clear — any changework I do is NLP Coaching nowadays, not curing or treating any regulated issues). I design all my interventions these days, if any, on the fly. In response to what’s actually presenting. I don’t use recipes anymore.

So, again, lets say the client learned their phobic responses in a single traumatic event. One time trial learning. And lets say we verified all that with the meta-model and other case study memory-scanning inquiries. In such a case, I might actually use the NLP FPC as part of a larger process.

But first, before doing any intervention, I’d…

Check on the ecology of the NLP Coaching change.

What effects would it have on their day to day life, if they got what they wanted. What effects do they currently ENJOY from the phobia, that might go away (e.g., family sympathy, time off work, bla bla bla). Can they handle all the positive AND negative effects of no longer having the dysfunction? Or not? Have they thought it all through?

Yes, “ecology” in NLP Coaching can be laughed at, or made fun of.  But it’s still important.  You and the NLP Coaching client would do well to fully explore the implications of actually getting them what they say they want.

Lets say the client likes the full ecology of the change. Then I’d want to find out about their current daily life — and explore what anchors there are in their daily life, that re-trigger the old response. And before I’d be willing to do any change-work, I’d get them to COMMIT to removing or changing the unhelpful anchors — with a SPECIFIC time or date when that’s going to be done. And get them to agree that if they didn’t make those changes, they were admitting they didn’t actually want to change. Make them responsible for it. Make them take ownership. Then… and only then… is whatever magic you’d achieve or help them achieve… likely to take hold in a way that enables the change to stick, permanently.

Design an NLP Coaching Intervention that Works, and Do It.

Then, once you design an NLP Coaching intervention that works — which of course is way beyond the scope of this [social media /blog] response — do it.

And then, you have to verify the result, of course. Does the client get a fundamentally different result, thinking about the trigger, after the intervention? Phobias are pretty easy because generally there’s only one trigger. General anxiety or control issues are way more complicated (not more difficult — just more complicated) because of how many more anchors or triggers there are for the unwanted behaviors/emotions. You have to be thorough and get most of them (sometimes all, but not always; sometimes its enough to get the majority of them and the others fall over like dominoes).

Then if we got an elated emotional response from a client after they felt the phobia or anxieties had gone away, I’d anchor all that.

Anchor the Positive Results (or Better Response to a Trigger).

Then I’d pass the anchor on to them and teach them how to use it (and how not to use it so it doesn’t get polluted and lost, 5 minutes after they walk out the door).

I’d also future-pace them getting the new positive response in at least 3 circumstances in the future. And maybe I’d do meta-future-pacing to ensure they themselves continued to future-pace good results into a further future. I’d future pace them facing unwanted old triggers and circumstances and firing their installed anchor for the desired new emotional response(s).

And More…

And there’s more I might do during NLP Coaching, depending on what they presented with…

  • Like inducing and anchoring tenacious indignance instead of helplessness, which can help make a client unwilling to go back to old results.
  • Like using humor (or mild-confusion, or surprise) as thresholds for shifting old emotional responses into new emotional options, which is virtually a requirement for enabling new behaviors.
  • Like getting rid of toxic beliefs and replacing with empowering ones.
  • Like checking values hierarchies and seeing how many still support the old behavior.
  • Like checking metaprograms and determining which ones will help bring back the old behavior.
  • Like checking whether they’ve been guilting themselves with modal operators of NEED/MUST/HAVE-TO instead of creating more choices with CAN/COULD.
  • Like checking how stuck they are and how nominalized their language is, and reactivating those nominalizations and stuck/frozen representations with active language.
  • Annnnnd…. the list goes on. Not necessarily in that order.

There’s just no substitute for breadth of experience and deeply integrated NLP Coaching skills.

Every practitioner has to get those skills and experience somehow, but clients ought to somehow be able to tell the difference between a “Newbie,” and an experienced, knowledgeable, skilled, and unconsciously competent coach, too, right?