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How to use NLP Neuro Logical Levels of transformation in coaching and therapy?

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Have you ever wondered why some changes are easier to achieve and are more lasting while we keep struggling with other changes?

Let us understand the answers to these questions and learn the secret of creating lasting change by exploring the Dilts logical levels of transformation process from Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

This model helps us understand the process of change and the various aspects of our being that need to be influenced for a change to be truly transformational.

What are the different NLP Neuro-Logical Levels?

There are 6 different levels that we consider when we talk about these levels of transformation. These levels include:

  1. Environment
  2. Behaviours
  3. Skills and Competencies
  4. Beliefs
  5. Identity
  6. Purpose

Let us look at each of these NLP Neuro logical levels in more detail:


First, this is the external physical environment in which we live, work and play. It includes the people we are surrounded by and how they interact with us, including things that we have and don’t have, our home, our office, and our car.

This level of change addresses the obvious external aspects of our lives. It is the presence or absence of things in the environment that generally helps us understand that change is required, that something is not working for us.


For example, I know that I don’t have enough money because I see zero balance in my account or a transaction declined on my card or when I look at an item in a shop and realize that I don’t have the money in my wallet to buy the item. I know my relationship is not working because of the response that I get or don’t get from my partner. I know that I am not as healthy as I would like because of the medical bills, the weight that I notice when I stand on the weighing machine, and the words I hear from my doctor.

In short, the environment is generally the proof of the existence of the current challenges or of us not having achieved the desired outcome yet.


Our environment is generally a result of how we have behaved over a period of time. We may not be able to completely control the environment through our behaviours, but there is no doubt that in the long run, we have a lot more influence over the environment than most of us realize.

Behaviours include both internal and external behaviours. Internal behaviours include our thoughts and feeling and external behaviours include our actions and our inaction. It includes the way we interact with other people and things around us, and the language we use, both verbal and non-verbal.

In short, it is the absence or presence of appropriate thoughts, feelings and actions that is helping or hindering us in our efforts to create a more desirable outcome.

Let us take the example of not being able to lose weight. Different behaviours that create or sustain weight issues include overeating, lack of exercise, emotional eating, smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, feeling overwhelmed or stressed and thoughts like I will start tomorrow or that this one is the last one. In order to influence the environment and achieve our desired outcomes, it is important to change these behaviours.

Skills and Competencies:

Behaviours are really dependent on our Skills and Competencies. This is the third level that we need to change for transformation to take place. This level includes all the skills and competencies required for supporting the behaviours that will help us achieve the desired outcome.

Lack of skill

It includes both behavioural and technical skills. Behavioural skills like keen observation, effective communication, ability to be organized, time management, self-discipline, and patience. Technical skills or knowledge required for some actions like using computers, driving a car, and cooking, that we may need for achieving the desired outcome.

Basically, skills and competencies are our abilities to do what is required for us to reach our goal. We may either lack these currently or despite having them we may not be able to use them as effectively as we need to.


It is our beliefs that determine whether or not we work towards developing a skill that we lack or are able to effectively use a skill that we already have.

For example, if I don’t know how to drive a car i.e. I lack driving skills, what stops me from developing them are beliefs like I am never going to be good at driving or that I do not need driving skills. An example of how beliefs influence our ability to apply existing skills is when therapists are able to have patience with clients but not with their own family members.

The fact that they have patience with clients means they have the skill but they are not able to use it with their family because of their beliefs about the family. Beliefs like “my family never understands me”.

Now if this is the belief that the therapist has, maintaining patience with the family will be difficult.  


Helping clients transform using NLP Neuro Logical Levels of Change

Our beliefs depend on what we identify with. The identification can be with people, roles, experiences or even labels and judgments. When I identify with my father many of my beliefs about myself and the world around me may come from my father.

When I identify myself with an experience where I did not achieve my outcome or identify with a label like a failure that I or others used for myself then my belief about how competent I am may come from these experiences and labels.

So, If I wish to transform my beliefs about something, it may be a very good idea for me to begin by changing the things that I have identified with from which I am borrowing these beliefs.

Purpose, Oneness, Source:

It represents the source that all of us come from. Some people may call this source, oneness, others may call it God, some others may prefer to use the word consciousness or energy or some others may refer to it as the basic elements that we all are made of.

No matter what name one chooses, the source really represents the infinite potential that lies within each of us. Once we are able to connect with, recognize and experience this infinite potential we can begin to break free from the existing limiting identities we have accepted which then influence our beliefs, our skills, our behaviours and finally our environment.

Most spiritual gurus talk about the benefits of connecting with this oneness or the higher consciousness and how this connection can help us break free from our limitations of the ego. The ego here represents that identity we have accepted for our-self.

Conceptually, the levels of the transformation model or the NLP Neuro logical levels of change are really powerful and provide us with the building blocks for creating sustainable transformation. The problem is how to apply this model into practice? What steps can we take to actually use these as a part of our coaching or therapy process?

Knowing these steps and helping the clients apply them effectively in a way that they can see results quickly is what will separate you not just from some of the spiritual gurus but also from other coaches and therapists who can talk really well about transformation but do not really know how to help people experience one.

Let us discuss the step-by-step process to use the NLP Neuro logical levels of transformation with clients.

What are the steps to use NLP Neuro Logical Levels of Transformation with clients in coaching and therapy?

1. Help the client imagine themselves in a room:

Levels of transformation

Start the process by helping the client imagine themselves in a room where they feel completely safe and comfortable. Using hypnotic language patterns can make the experience more real and more powerful for the client.

2. Ask the client to find a place in that room:

The second step is to ask the client to find a place in that room such that there is enough space to walk 6 steps ahead. Ask them to walk 6 steps ahead and then walk 6 steps back to the original place.

3. Ask the client to imagine a circle around each step that they had walked:

The third step is to ask the client to imagine a circle around each step that they had walked and then give each circle a colour. All them to write the word environment in the first circle, behaviour in the second, skills, beliefs and identity in the third, fourth and fifth circle respectively and oneness or consciousness or any other word that the client resonates with, that represents source of everything in the sixth circle.

4. Ask the client to make the sixth circle really powerful:

The fourth step is to ask the client to make the sixth circle really powerful. Ask them to make whatever changes they would like to make in the circle such that the circle represents the infinite potential. Suggest to the client that as they look at the circle they realise the power of this infinite potential and that it can help them create the change they would like to create in their life. How even though they are 6 steps away from the circle, they realise the power that the circle represents and they recognize that each of us comes from the same source, represents this infinite potential and can tap into the same.

5. Ask the client to bring their awareness back to where they are:

The fifth step is to ask the client to bring their awareness back to where they are and ask them to notice the first circle of environment in front of them.

Ask the client to take a step forward, step into that circle and notice the various environmental factors that indicate that they have not yet achieved the goal.

Once they narrate all the environmental indicators, ask them to step into the second circle and notice all their behaviours that are contributing to this environment. Things that they need to do to achieve the goal but are not doing and things that they should not be doing to achieve the goal but are still doing.

Once the client identifies the behaviours, ask them to step into the third circle so that they can explore the skills that they need to achieve the goal but lack or the skills they have but are not using effectively and then ask them to step into the fourth circle to identify the limiting beliefs and then the fifth circle to identify the people, roles and experiences from where they have borrowed or picked up these limiting beliefs. Once the client has systematically been able to explore the fifth circle completely,

6. Ask the client to bring their awareness to the sixth circle:

The sixth next step is to ask them to bring their awareness to the sixth circle. Notice how close they are to the infinite potential. Just one more step and they would be connected to the circle and the infinite potential it represents. Even while being in the fifth circle they are already starting to experience the power of this infinite potential

7. Ask the client to take a step forward into the circle of infinite potential:

The seventh step is to ask the client to take a step forward and step into the circle of infinite potential. Ask them to not just tap into the feeling but also allow it to spread to each and every cell in their body.

Once the client is able to experience this, ask them to take a step back into the circle of identity and notice their identity transforming in a way that the new roles, people, and experiences they are identifying with are in sync with their desired goal.

Once that happens, ask the client to step back into the circle of beliefs and notice the beliefs they have about self, others, and situations getting completely transformed.

8. Ask the client to step back into the circle of skills:

Next, ask them to step back into the circle of skills, notice the skills transforming and then step back into the circle of behaviours, notice the behaviours transforming and finally stepping back into the circle of environment and noticing how this circle not literally represents the future where they have already achieved their goal.

Ask them to notice all the indicators that make them realise that the goal is already achieved.

9. Ask the client to come back to the place from where they stepped into the first circle:

The ninth step is to ask them to step back and come back to the place from where they stepped into the first circle. Ask the client to notice the circle of environment that represents the new future that they will soon step into right in front of them.

Ask the client to initiate a step towards the new environment circle and with that image of them about to become present to this new environment, open their eyes and come back to the present.

Wake them up properly, once they open their eyes, ask them to have water and give them some time to completely come back to the present.

10. Ask the client to notice the changes in the coming days and report in the next session:

Next, ask the client to notice the changes that are taking place in their life in the coming days and report those changes to you in the next session. This is a really really powerful process.

You can ask the client to verbalise everything they noticed in the circle so that you can make a note of the same or you may even allow the client to not share any specific details with you but just go through the process and notice the changes taking place.

You truly being to appreciate the power behind this process when you are working with a client who is not willing to share specifics about themselves or their challenge.

You realise how the client’s system has the ability to create the desired change and the client can do that once in the right mental state even without you as the therapist knowing any detail about the client’s challenge.

If you would love to learn more about levels of transformation and other incredibly powerful change processes under supervision, then do join us for our Cognitive Hypnotic Coaching or Psychotherapy Diploma. If you are not aware of the different courses that we offer at ICHARS, here is a list of all the courses focusing on developing advanced coaching competencies and therapeutic skills.

If you need any help or have any questions do feel free to connect with our team @ +91-8080208473 or schedule an appointment with our lead trainer.