Practice & Processes

Submodalities Part 4: Distance/Color Swish

By June 5, 2008 No Comments

The first variation on the Swish, the distance/color swish, is a nice variation. Here it is, again from the classic NLP Comprehensive 24 Day Practitioner Training Trainer’s Manual.

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Frame: Size/brightness is only one (out of literally thousands) of possible combination of submodalities that you can use for the swish pattern. This time instead of size and brightness, we will use distance and color as the submodalities to make the cues picture chain quickly to the desired self‑image. Typically as a picture goes farther away, it loses color, and as it comes closer, it gains color, so this is a natural combination.

If the size/brightness swish didn’t work for you last time, it’s likely that size and brightness aren’t compelling submodalities for you; you can use the same content again. If the size/brightness swish worked well on that content, choose a new content to use with distance/color.

Demonstrate the distance/color swish quickly, with someone for whom the size/brightness swish didn’t work. This will save time, since he will already have spent some time identifying the cue and creating the desired self‑image. (However you may want to check on both of these, because they may be inappropriate in some way.)


(trios, 15 minutes in each position)

1. Determine the unwanted behavior.

2. Cue: Make the cue image close and full of color (and associated.)

3. Self‑image: Make the (dissociated) image of the you that you would be without this problem.

4. Ecological check: Does any part of you have any objection to your becoming this person that you see in that image?

5. Set up: See both those images simultaneously, side by side. The cue image close and full of color; the self‑image far away and black and white.

6. Swish: When you swish, the cue image will lose color as it moves quickly into the distance. Simultaneously, the desired self‑image will move closer as it gains color. Most people find this more impactful if the two pictures go through each other when they are the same distance away. Some people also like to have them make a “pop” sound as they do this. If the programmer makes an appropriate sound, with hand gestures s/he can run the swish covertly once it has been set up the first time.

Next clear your visual screen and repeat the swish 5 times, clearing the screen at the end of each swish.

7. Test:

a. Make cue image (2). What happens?

b. Behaviorally test by creating the external cue.

Discussion: For both kinds of swishing, make sure when they instruct the client to set up the swish, that they have the client first see the cue, and then see the desired state image. This starts with what is already in the client’s experience, and chains the existing cue to a new direction. If the client has trouble moving the two pictures simultaneously, ask him to imagine that there is a string from the cue image which goes through a pulley behind his head, and back to the far self‑image. When the cue image moves away, this string automatically pulls the self‑image closer at this same time. (Alternatively, you could rehearse the movement of each picture separately, and then put them together.)

Tom Dotz

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