ericksonian hypnosis and firefighters

Dennis Leary, Firefighters And Ericksonian Hypnotherapy


I saw Dennis Leary the other day on a morning news/talk show. He was promoting his movie “Burn” and his organization The Leary Firefighters Foundation, that provides funding and resources for Fire Departments to obtain equipment, technology and training.

As a joke, he asked the anchors of the show if he could read the teleprompter copy to introduce himself. He started off–it didn’t go that well. The news anchor interrupted him and told him to “punch his lines up” and then to slow down.

After reading it, Dennis Leary commented that reading a teleprompter was one of those things that everybody thinks is easy but that he wasn’t very good at it. The anchor responded that he had only done it for 20 seconds and he’d already improved dramatically.

What Does This Have To Do With Ericksonian Hypnotherapy?

Let’s suppose Mr. Leary came to us to help improve his teleprompter skills. Which suggestion do we want him to be giving himself?

  • I’m not good at reading a teleprompter.
  • I’m improving quickly at reading a teleprompter.

Remember, self-talk is a form of self-suggestion. I think most of us would agree that “I’m improving quickly at reading a teleprompter” is a better suggestion.

A Closer Look

The newscaster accomplished this reframe through the simple concepts of splitting and linking. He used time to divide Dennis Leary’s experience up in a way that was useful. He split the performance into the early part and the later part. He linked the lesser performance to the early part and better performance to the later part.

A Splitting And Linking Strategy

In short, when our clients present us with a problem, in their mind we may want to split the problem away from the future, associate it with the past and link a solution to the present/future.

“So, you’ve tried a lot of things to help you stop biting your nails and nothing has worked very well for you to this point. My job is to help you hook up your internal resources in such a way as to make it easy and natural for you to choose other behaviors from here on out.”

Build Rapport First

  • The first part of the statement is rapport building. You express the client’s problem back to them (it’s best to do in their own words).
  • You add a piece of language that links that problem to the past. “Yet,” “up to now,” “to this point” etc.
  • You link the future to a solution; “After the session you may find,” “Because we’re working with the unconscious mind, from now on” etc.

That’s it.

Reframe Constantly

A single reframe can sometimes dramatically improve a problem situation–or even solve it completely. Often though, you’ll find yourself reframing constantly throughout an NLP or hypnosis session.


By the way, there are lots of ways to split and link beside using time.

About The Author:

Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997.

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  1. I do this conversationally a lot. The more I do it, the less I have to think about doing it. Golly. Could that be because in the past I struggled to remember to split and link, but over time, as I allowed myself to trust the unconscious, I did it easily? Stranger things have happened… 🙂

    Love the post, and the reminder to use my unconscious resources going forward. Love your acuity in recognizing the anchor’s (unconscious?) recognition of how to split and link.

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