NLP Techniques

Collapsing Anchors

Written by Lee Avery

The human mind, like water running down a hill, will always take the path of least resistance. In cognition terms this means taking a route that is the most familiar (habit) or offers the greatest reward (fight or flight).

When these two are put into conflict, i.e. a high reward behaviour is set against an habitual behaviour, the reward behaviour will win out over the short term. If the reward behaviour is repeated enough it will become the new habit, replacing the older one.

We see this in successful exercisers and dieters, their reward (weight loss/fitness) is stronger than the habit (overeating/comfort). If the reward is maintained/increased then the old habit loses its power and the new one takes its place.

A Short Cut to Breaking Habitual States

Rather than taking weeks, months or years to change an emotional habit, the Collapsing Anchor technique creates a new, low resistance path that the mind can quickly and easily latch on to.

The technique is a simple one, creating two anchors, one for the old negative habitual state and one for a new positive state, and triggering them together, thus confusing the mental pathways, a new, unique pattern is created, replacing the old, habitual one.

Three Little Steps

1Elicit and Anchor Un-resourceful State
Elicit from the client a state that they feel is unhelpful and would be better without. Create an anchor for this state so that the client can ‘step into’ the feeling whenever you want them too.

2Create and Anchor Powerful State
Identify an emotional state that would be useful for overcoming the un-resourceful state. Find something that cannot be held in mind at the same time e.g Confidence as an alternative for Fear, Calm for Anxious etc.

Anchor the new emotion and amplify to ensure that it has force and that the client can easily return to this state.

3Collapse and Integrate
Break state, and when ready activate both anchors simultaneously keeping a close eye on the reactions of the client. If the process has been successful the client is likely to enter a confused state as they try to reconcile the two opposing emotions with the creation of a new one taking the place of both.

Ask the client to re-experience the old state and they will notice a mix of emotions as they integrate the new feeling into their experience.


It is important to note that the client will generate a new set of emotive expressions that is distinct from either the un-resourceful or powerful states and it is likely to sit somewhere between the two. Where on the continuum between the two the new one sits will be dependent upon the intensity and ‘attractiveness’ of the target state.

About the author

Lee Avery

Professional Therapist, Clinical Hypnosis & NLP Trainer with over 25 years of experience in training new professionals and treating clients. He specialises in Trauma related Psychological health issues. After years of running training classes Lee has decided to publish his training materials online to further the accessibility of NLP and Hypnosis. He is an advocate for Clinical Hypnosis Excellence and is constantly looking to improve the professional standing of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy within the medical community.

He also runs Achieving Greatness a software development company producing mobile apps for the mental health community.

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