Gathering Information: The Most Important Part Of A Session

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Gathering Information: The Most Important Part Of A Session

The Structure Of The Present & Desired States


How Do We Know What To Look For In A Session?

The most popular page on my web site (other than the home page) is a page about hypnotic scripts. I don’t recommend professionals use scripts. Scripts are merely a guess at what any individual client’s motivations, needs and criteria are. And guessing is not as good as knowing. So, why do people want scripts?

Two reasons…

  1. Because they don’t know what to say! Why do they not know what to say? Because they don’t have a good model for gathering information from clients!
  2. Because their thinking is issue based rather than structure based. That’s a mistake. One smoking cessation client can be completely different than another. Why? Because the structure of their problem is different!

If you don’t have good information, it’s tough to make good decisions. So, how do you know what to look for, what information is important, which technique to use, what the structure of an individual client’s problem is? It all depends on gathering information accurately.

And why are people lost about what NLP technique to use? They wouldn’t be, if they had a good model for gathering information.

The Most Important Part Of A Session

Let me put it this way…

All you do when you work with a client is based on the information you gather up front. It’s (IMO), the most important part of a session. And let me tell you a little secret…

If you gather information in just the right way, it can actually have a healing effect.

So, What Do You Look For In A Session?

The information I’m after has to do with the structure of people’s problems and the structures of their potential solutions. What do I mean by structure?

Have you ever tried to untie a tangled string or rope? It’s a problem! And if you’re smart, you’ll orient toward learning how the knot is structured. You can pull various areas and see what moves, you can look at it carefully to see which loop goes where, you can turn it this way or that to get a different perspective.

You’re looking for the structure of the knot. If you better understand the structure of the knot, you can better understand how to untie it!

People’s problems can be looked at the same way. Their problems (and their solutions) have a structure. If you learn about their structure, you can learn to dissolve the problem.

One thing that probably won’t get you much useful information is asking how the knot (or problem) formed in the first place. If you ask for that, you’ll probably get the story of how the knot (or problem) was formed.

So, What Makes Up The Structure Of A Problem (And A Solution)?

  • Context
  • Behaviors
  • Internal Representations
  • States
  • Beliefs
  • Criteria
Let’s take a look at those, one by one…


With whom, when where, in what situation? What has to happen for the problem to occur?


What specifically does the client do?

Internal Representations:

What are they thinking? What are the submodalities of the internal imagery, the internal audio?

Internal States:

What are the feelings produced by the internal representations (thoughts).


What beliefs are there about this context?


What is important about it?

Now You Have Much Of The Structure

Get answers to those questions for both the problem and a potential solution, and you’ll have a much better idea of how both are structured. And a better chance of “untying” the problem knot and helping install a solution. In part 2 of this article, I’ll give examples of information gathered in this process and go deeper in to how it’s useful.


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Keith Livingston

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. Read More....

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