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Anil Thomas

Master NLP Practitioner & Gestalt Therapist

What is the benefit of using anchors?

NLP anchoring is a process that goes on around and within us all the time, whether we are aware of it or not. Most of the time we are not consciously aware of why we feel as we do – indeed we may not realize we have responded in some cases, which makes it a much more powerful force in our lives.

NLP Anchoring is used to facilitate state management. In this sense an anchor is set up to be triggered by a consciously chosen stimulus, deliberately linked by practice to a known useful state, to provide reflexive access to that state at will. This may be used for exam nerves, overcoming fear, feelings such as happiness or determination, or to recollect how one will feel if a good resolution is kept. In Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention Karin Jordan (2006) states that “after the preliminary assessment has been completed, the therapist should help the client develop an anchor. The anchor concept is rooted in neuro linguistic programming (Bandler & Grinder, 1979) and can serve as a tool used by clients to get a break from the traumatic event. To help the client work through traumatic events, an observable/concrete resource should be used as an anchor.”

Anchoring is also used by skillful film makers to evoke suspense in the audience. Think of your own psychological changes that occurred when you heard the soundtracks amplified, pounding heartbeat rhythm in the moments leading up to each of the appearances of the huge killer shark in the movie Jaws. What anchor was established in you by the crescendo of the sound of the music meeting the shark? Did your heartbeat increase? Did your palms begin to sweat? Did you have to see the shark, or was the thumping music enough to start your slide to the edge of your seat? Likewise the finale of classical symphonies, or “”mood music”” such as romantic, climactic, or apprehensive in films. Leitmotivs recurring themes in music and literature also serve to re stimulate a previously established response.

For trauma victims, sudden noises or movement can serve as terrifying anchors capable of recollecting the traumatic experience. In this case, amongst other approaches, NLP might be used in a slightly different way – to desensitize the stimulus and perhaps instead also sensitize it to some more neutral or positive feeling.

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