Submodalities Technique

How we make the fine distinctions to give meaning to the experience. Our mental pictures, sounds and feelings all have certain qualities. These qualities are the submodalities.

Submodalities code our experience of reality, certainty and time. Changing submodalities allows us to change the meaning of our experience.

You can find guided instruction and practical examples to aid your learning on NLP submodalities in our NLP online training.

Modalities – Sight, sound, feeling, tastes, smells.

Submodalities – e.g. Bright, Dull, Loud, Soft, Vibrating, Steady.

Everything that we experience within our mind or body can be described in terms of the things that we see, hear, feel, smell and taste; our five senses or symbolic systems. These symbolic systems are our input channels and can be referred to as modalities. Human beings and complex nano-particle-based universal quantum mechanical devices are intrinsically sentient, universal beings and are certainly capable of making great distinctions in the qualities of their assimilated subjective experiences. Indeed, comparing individual personal experience with those of others is one of the most interesting, insightful and fascinating aspects of practising NLP.

The sheer richness and diversity of interpreted individual fine distinctions available to us as human beings demand that our sensory input channels can facilitate an incredible amount of delicate data; thus, the modalities are comprised of smaller sub-components sub-sets, which are known as submodalities.


Critical Submodalities
Changing some submodalities makes little or no difference to our internal representation. Others make a big difference. These are the Critical Submodalities. E.g. is more prominent and brighter.

If we wish to change how we feel in a specific recurring situation, we can adjust the submodalities associated with that experience. Changing the critical submodalities related to the experience will make the most significant difference to how we feel about it. E.g. Changing from procrastination to motivation.


Driver Submodalities
The most critical submodality in a given context, changing it automatically changes many other submodalities and ‘drives the response. It is unique for each individual and internal representation.


Example Submodalities

Black and White or Colour
Near or Far
Bright or Dim
Size of picture
Associated or Dissociated


Internal or External
Loud or Soft
Fast or Slow



Creating s compelling future
Describe how to create a clear end.

Pick one of your goals. The goal can be one you intend to accomplish over any time frame.
With your eyes closed or open, develop a picture in your head to achieve this goal. It will help if you look with your eyes to the right. Once you have a vision, turn it into a movie that depicts you in the act of having achieved the goal.
See the movie in the first person, as though from your own eyes when you are experiencing it. What can you see? What is happening? What are you wearing? What is the weather like? Work on making the image as detailed as possible. Is there anyone with you? What are they wearing? Try to get a intricate movie rolling.
Next, fiddle around with the Submodalities. Make the pictures of the movie massive and very close to you in your mind’s eye. Make the colours extraordinarily bright and vibrant.
Increase the borders of the picture out to include more detail. You should notice that the more detailed your image gets, the more intensely you start to feel the feelings you associate with achieving this goal.
Now it’s time to move onto your audible modalities. What can you hear as you are achieving this goal? How loud are the sounds?
Make the sounds as detailed as possible too. Can you hear any noises in the background like birds chirping or a car driving past?
Again fiddle with the Submodalities now. Make the sounds louder and more apparent, like you would hear them if you were there. We are trying to create the experience of what it will be like when (not if, WHEN) you are there.
Now move to your kinesthetic modalities, things you will FEEL as you are experiencing achieving your goal. Is there a breeze blowing that you can feel on your face? Are you touching anything or anyone? Can you feel the warmth of the sun on your skin? Whatever it is, feel the feelings you would feel. Make them feel as accurate as possible in your mind.
Finally, try to think about what you would be thinking at the time? What would you be thinking and feeling mental as you achieve your goal? Maybe an excitement that it’s finally happened? Perhaps a sense of accomplishment? Perhaps anticipation? Maybe you feel a sense of freedom or happiness or fulfilment? Whatever it is, let you in the movie think and feel those same feelings.
This is as close as you can be actually to achieve your goal. You should be now thinking, hearing, seeing, and touching everything as you would if you were there having it happen.
Test and Future Pace.

Confusion to the understanding pattern (using submodality techniques)
We might use a confusion pattern if we wanted to create an environment for change, and we would employ an understanding pattern when we want to understand something.


Get in rapport
Do a contrastive analysis of the submodalities of – Confusion and Understanding.
Map Across
Test and Future Pace

Belief Change pattern
Used to change limiting beliefs.

Find a limiting belief that you do not wish to have. Get a picture. Elicit Submodalities (1)
Get a belief that is no longer true for you. E.g. Used to be a smoker. Get a picture. Elicit Submodalities. The location should be different (2)
Change submodalities of 1 to 2
Get a belief that is true to you. Get a picture. Elicit submodalities (3)
Get a belief that you want to have instead. Get a picture. Elicit submodalities (4)
Change submodalities of 4 to 3
Future Pace

We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) relating to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

What is NLP?

In simple terms, Neuro Linguistic programming (NLP) is a series of models, techniques and strategies to help us better understand how the language we use influences the way we think and the results we get!

How can I benefit from using NLP?

NLP can have a positive effect on every aspect of your life. It can be used to move forward with some specific challenge or issue, or can be adopted more generically to make a difference to all areas of your life.

ANLP has many case studies and success stories detailing how NLP has helped clients, organisations and educational establishments with specific challenges over the years.

How does NLP work?

Have you ever done something so elegantly and effectively that it took your breath away? Have you had times where you were delighted at what you did and wondered how you did it?

NLP shows you how to understand and model your own successes, so that you can reproduce them. It is a way of discovering and unfolding your personal genius, a way of bringing out the best in yourself and others.

NLP is the study of excellence. It is the study of both the conscious and unconscious processes that combine to enable people to do what they do. The key to success is often unknown at a conscious level. Using NLP, you can elicit these unknown pieces.

You may want to improve your relationships, or eliminate an anxiety, or become more competitive in the market place. The key pieces are not found in the muscles, but in your inner thoughts, like words or pictures, or feelings or even beliefs. Once you know these unknown pieces you can change them. NLP exercises are like thought experiments, mental exercises or a game. The laboratory is your mind.

How did NLP develop?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming was first defined by Dr Richard Bandler (a Mathematician) and John Grinder (an Associate Professor of Linguistics) working together at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the early 1970s at a time of rapid development in the humanities field.

They asked the important question "What is it that makes the difference between somebody who is merely competent and someone who excels at the same skill?" and decided to model various people in order to discover the answers. It just so happens that the three people they chose to model were the outstanding therapists, Fritz Perls (Gestalt Therapy), Virginia Satir (Family Therapy) and Milton Erickson (world renowned psychiatrist who gave his name to a form of hypnosis). They could just as easily have modelled outstanding businessmen or scientists.

Richard Bandler and John Grinder modelled their language, physiology and mental processes and then identified patterns (rather than theories) which could be explicitly taught. NLP also drew on many existing fields of study including the work of Chomsky in linguistics, of Korsybski in general semantics, Ashby in systems thinking and many, many others.

Do I need an NLP trainer or an NLP professional?

That depends on what you hope to achieve.

If you would like one to one support to achieve a specific goal or deal with a particular challenge in your life, then you may like to consider visiting an NLP professional (a Practitioner or Master Practitioner).

If you would like to learn more about NLP, either for your own personal development or because you are considering a career change or additional career, then you are looking for an NLP trainer. You can then attend some NLP training and become a qualified Practitioner yourself.

How do I choose a good NLP professional?

For starters, make sure any NLP professional you are considering working with belongs to the Professional Body, so you have something to fall back on and they have a self-regulatory framework to base their business upon.

ANLP offers you impartial guidance on choosing either an NLP professional or an NLP trainer and strongly advises that you do your due diligence before engaging their services.

How much does an NLP session cost?

The cost of an NLP session will vary depending on whether you are having a 1-2-1, group or a training session as part of a longer course. Prices will also vary based on the skill and specialization of the Practitioner… a single session may be as little as £50 and a course can be over £3,000.

We recommend you use our ANLP resources to select the right NLP professional for you and that you understand how much you will be charged per session or for the course before you commit.

By searching on our site and using an ANLP Member, you will be assured that the person you select is qualified, as they state on their profile, as either an NLP Practitioner, Master Practitioner, Trainer, or ANLP Accredited Trainer from an ANLP-recognised NLP School.

NOTE: If you are looking for NLP training and to learn NLP as a practitioner, we do NOT recommend that you use online courses to learn NLP as the quality and depth of training offered is, in our professional opinion, not adequate to certify you as an NLP practitioner with ANLP. As the internationally recognized, independent body of NLP Professionals, ANLP does not endorse or recognize ANY online-only NLP courses.

Where do I start?

If you are interested in engaging an NLP professional to support you through a particular issue, then we suggest you start by looking at our guide for choosing a good NLP professional.

If you are wondering if NLP is a good fit for your organization or workplace, then start by reading our guide for using NLP at work.

If you are thinking about training in NLP for yourself, then start by looking at our guide for choosing a good NLP trainer.

If you are curious and want to know a bit more about NLP before diving in, then do have a look at our case studies and recommended book list, both of which can help you to make informed decisions about whether or not NLP is right for you.

Is there any research to prove NLP works?

For many years, there was very little research around NLP. That is changing and there is a growing body of evidence to support the roots of NLP practice and various specific strategies and techniques used within NLP practices.

There is also a growing body of research particularly in the education field, funded by the Education Development Trust (formerly CfBT). We feature their research papers, and others, on our Research Pages.

The first NLP Research Journal was published by NLPEA  in 2009 and was launched at the House of Commons in January 2010.

In the States, the Research and Recognition Project focuses on PTSD and trauma protocols and continues to campaign for funded research into these particular areas.

What about online courses in NLP?

We think online courses, in NLP, such as Udemy, are one of many great ways to discover more about NLP and what it can do for you...

We also strongly believe that if you have more than a passing interest in NLP and want to use it to build your own practice or enhance existing client-led services, it is so important to learn your NLP practice face to face, in a live training environment and dealing with real people.

NLP is an experiential subject and practicing NLP is an essential part of any certification when you want to work with others.

There is a big difference between 'online' courses and 'virtual' courses. Due to the pandemic in 2020, NLPEA's Accreditation panel and advisors explored ways of safely delivering NLP training in a virtual setting, resulting in the ANLP Criteria for Virtual Training. If your NLP Training meets all these live training requirements, you can still apply for membership of NLPEA.

What is NLP


What is NLP


What is NLP



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