The Six Step Reframe Technique
Bandler and Grinder developed the six step reframe technique from their study of Milton Erickson (ideomotor signals) and Virginia Satir‘s work with parts. They included it in their book Frogs into Princes
When we are young, we try out different behaviors and some of them work. We keep the ones that work, even when times change and those responses may not be the most useful ones. Throwing a tantrum at 4 might get us what we want, at 44 it probably won’t work so well.
Behind every behavior is a positive intention – this is one of the basic NLP presuppositions. Motives drive behavior. Our brains do nothing without some (usually unconscious) purpose.
To me the six step reframe is a powerful and underestimated NLP technique.
- Identify a troubling behavior or response, something you would rather not do or feel.
- Establish communication with the part creating the unwanted behavior or response. Ask if it would be willing to communicate consciously. This communication might be a sensation somewhere in their/your body, a picture, voice or sound.
When you get a signal, first thank the part for responding. When we have fought against particular behaviors, they can feel alienated, so it’s useful to be polite.
- Find the positive intention. Ask the part “What do you want? What positive thing are you trying to do for me? The key here is to recognize the difference between the parts intention and the way it is going about getting it
Have you ever tried to be helpful and the person misunderstood your intention and got annoyed? How does it make you feel? Are you likely to help a second time?
Our unconscious parts feel the same. Here they are doing the best they can to achieve something for you. Is there thanks or even appreciation? We might have a long history of fighting and shaming this response.
If a neighbor repeatedly told you what a worthless lazy bum you were for not mowing your lawn more often, would it inspire you to mow? I have no idea why many of us think shaming works to change behavior. It doesn’t work for me.
Assuming that this aspect of self has a positive intention can create rapport and therefore makes it more willing to cooperate.
- Ask for help from their/your creative part to create three alternative ways to get the intended outcome.
- Have the part evaluate these new choices. Are they acceptable? Will they be as good as or better than the previous behavior? It needs to be willing to try them out for the next month or longer if appropriate.
The key here is negotiation. If the part with the unwanted behavior is not happy with these alternatives, it is unlikely to give them a go. If you have ever agreed to something because you were bullied into it, you’ll know how important willing commitment is.
If the alternatives are not acceptable, go back to step 4 for better choices.
- Check for objections with other parts with an ecology check and future pacing. When we change behaviors, we can affect other people and aspects of ourselves. Even changes we think are fabulous have unintended consequences. We get our new car, but our camping gear doesn’t fit in the boot.
If there are objections, put them through the same process from step 2 – what is the positive intention etc?
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