Submodality Manipulation in Hypnotic Changework

The video below (taken from Changework Applications) shares a few tips on submodality manipulation in hypnotic changework (without trance, that is 😉 ) along with a demo of a simple submodality manipulation. There are a lot of little touches in the demo worth watching for, especially around the languaging!

If you are new to the concept of submodalities,  I have written up a brief ‘primer’ which you can find below the video.



As human beings we are constantly engaged in cognitive processing. Moment by moment we are continually making sense of things, solving problem, making decisions, planning, reflecting and reminiscing and so on and so forth. And the vast majority of this processing goes on outside of consciousness.

One of the fundamental ideas of NLP is that this processing consists largely (if not totally) in the manipulation of representations – mental pictures, words, feelings, sounds and sometimes smells and tastes – that stand for the processes, things and states of affairs that we encounter in our lives.

Representations manifest across 5 sensory modalities:

  • V. Visual: We make mental pictures
  • A. Auditory: Mental sounds
  • K. Kinaesthetic: Feelings
  • O. Olfactory: Smell
  • G. Gustatory: Taste

In addition to the 5 basic sensory modalities, there is also linguistic representation (words!), which will mostly be consciously experienced in the via the auditory modality. In NLP terminology this is referred to as Auditory Digital (Ad) but in more common parlance it is known as Internal Dialogue or Self Talk.

So if somebody is thinking of an apple, they may see a brief mental picture of one (V), hear the word ‘apple’ flit briefly through their mind (A/Ad), briefly experience a sense of the taste (G) etc. Essentially, they will access whatever representations they need to make sense of ‘apple’ in ways that serve the thought process… and they will do so mostly outside of consciousness.

Submodalities are the variables qualities that pertain to each modality. So, if someone has a visual representation of something, the image have size, distance from perceiver, location in relation to perceiver, be moving or still, be clear or fuzzy etc. Those distinctions within the modality are the submodalities.

As a hypnotist it is aiming to shift someones experience or perception, the ability to be aware of how a person is representing in any given moment is extremely useful, because it enables you to directly interact with those representations, enabling you to manipulate them in useful ways… both in the contexts of fun and exploration and changework.

Through adjusting the submodalities within a representation, we can change the quality of the experience independent of the content. This is useful for such things a making a goal more compelling or transforming a bad memory or unresourceful state into something more comfortable or resourceful.

(continued below video)


There are essentially two types of submodalities:

  1. Analogue – these can be changed quickly or slowly along a continuum, like a volume control or a light dimmer switch.
  2. Digital – these are mutually exclusive and polar, like on/off, 0 or 1, associated, dissociated etc.

Associated and dissociated (as understood in NLP terms) are particularly significant visual submodalities that probably require further explanation.

  • Associatied – When you are seeing the action as if through your own eyes you are associated. Associated states tend to be more emotionally intense.
  • Dissociatied – When you are seeing the action as if through someone else’s eyes, you are dissociated. Dissociated states tend to be more emotionally detached, allowing for more rational thinking.
About The Author

James Tripp

Hypnotist and Transformative Facilitator. Creator of Hypnosis Without Trance.


  • John Kendall

    January 14, 2013

    I do love your flexibility in the use of the tools of the trade.

  • Ian McCue

    January 14, 2013

    A great piece of work with sub mods!!
    Thanks for posting.

  • Turan

    January 14, 2013

    Excellent video – as always you make it look so simple.

  • Adis

    January 14, 2013

    Hi, lovely video, but got to ask why did you have the man in the first video take a walk with the new feelling, any reason for it?
    Since I got your attention while you read this I hope at least, one question again that kinda ties in to the submodalities concept , basiclly its just a form of reframing right shifting submodalities changing them, and so forth.
    Thanks a bunch, James
    p.s I love these changework videos you should really put out more of them, or perhaps Im just greedy :).

    • admin

      January 15, 2013

      Thanks Adis

      I have him walk the feeling so as to assist its generalisation out of that moment… to avoid it being spatially anchored to that spot, if you like.

      I think submodality work initially shifts perspective. The work I do at the end (“what difference does that make?” etc.) is about managing useful ‘meaning making’ around the experience, so in that sense, it is changing the framing.

      All the very best


      • Adis

        January 15, 2013

        Thank you for the reply one more thing :),
        “The work I do at the end (“what difference does that make?” etc.) is about managing useful ‘meaning making’ around the experience” – thats like a meta-comment right? commenting on the experience solidifies it or something like that is that what you mean?
        Thank you.

  • Alastair Hill

    January 15, 2013

    Great demo James. Thanks for putting it up for us to see.


  • Javier Malonda

    January 15, 2013

    Great demostración, James. I learned a few things from you today, and I thank you for that.

  • John

    January 15, 2013

    How will the Creating Instant Change webinars differ from your Changework Applications videos?

    • admin

      January 16, 2013

      Hi John

      Essentially, I will be unpacking a broader range of intervention, as well as giving more practical clarity on the mechanisms of change.

      Hope that helps!

      All the very best


  • Eulice

    May 12, 2013

    I have done this with clients I work with, which are mostly high school kids. Do you think there’s a difference in the way people process information, according to their age group?

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