Whenever someone is asked to recall something with an emotional component (i.e. experiential rather than factual) they will ‘go inside’ themselves, locate the memory and reconstruct the experience.
They will pull together the facts (date, time etc) and the rest of the structure of the experience e.g. sights, sounds, smells and associated sensory experiences which will then be combined into the entirety of the recalled experience.
In NLP we use the term Transderivational Search or TDS as a label for this entire process.
The Long and the Short of it.
Every time we ask a client to “Recall a time…” or “Find a feeling…” they will automatically run through a TDS to pull all of the relevant components together into a coherent whole.
The duration of the search is completely variable and can be anything from moments to minutes depending upon the complexity of the emotions, the age of the event and the willingness of the client.
It is the mental equivalent of pulling together all of the ingredients required to cook a meal, the cooking instructions and finally serving the meal. It can be straight forwards and easy, or highly complex and difficult and whilst it is happening any interruption can derail the whole thing.
This is a key point, recalling any memory isn’t just a simple one step process, there can be hundreds of bits to pull together and if the client is stopped during a search what comes (if anything) is likely to be incomplete.
On the Face of it
Since a TDS is necessary, and it’s vital that we don’t interrupt the process, how do we know what is going on?
When someone goes through the process of recalling an experience their face will show what is going on ‘behind the scenes’. Often eye movements will match the corresponding Eye Accessing Cue positions as they recall sights and sounds, they may move their body in particular ways or they may ‘tune-out’ of the world around them. There are invariable a whole set of clues when someone is going through the process and all we need to do, as practitioners, is be aware, watch what goes on and wait until things settle down again.
TDS as a Test of Efficacy
A question that is raised often on NLP Practitioner training courses regarding the NLP Patterns is “How do I know it has worked?”, and the answer can often be found in observing the TDS at work.
Prior to change work, the recollection of a particular event (even traumatic ones) flows quite quickly and easily, however after the application of an NLP change pattern a recollection of the event or emotional state causes confusion which can be easily seen during the TDS process.
Monitoring an internal search before a session and then again after, noting any differences can be a useful way of checking the effectiveness of the change work and give the NLP Practitioner an extra level of confirmation that their approach has been successful.