If a person has a sensory experience which they don’t like, what they don’t like is their response to it.
One way of changing the response is to understand that the response itself is not based on what is going on in sensory experience – it is based on the meaning that the person applies to the experience.
If you change what an experience means to a person you’ll change their response to it.
Just as we can change our response to a work of art by placing it in a different frame, we can change our response to an experience by placing that experience in a different frame – effectively reframing that experience.
The two forms of reframing we are going to learn here are a context reframe and a meaning reframe and, for reasons of efficiency, let’s first take a look at the basic steps of the process which are common to both forms.
- Practise sensory acuity – as the person accesses the experience you wish to reframe pay attention to their language structures, their physical state and non-verbal analogues (body language) and eye accessing cues.
- If you’re doing a formal reframing (as opposed to informal / conversational) consider assisting the person to develop a rich Visual / Auditory / Kinesthetic Internal Representation of the ‘problem’ experience by fully associating into it.
- Think before you speak – carefully consider the other person’s experience and try to construct a reframe which, when you deliver it, will have maximum impact on that person. For a stronger reframe try to make your frame the polar opposite of the person’s current experience.
- If you’re doing a formal reframing (as opposed to informal / conversational) consider asking the person to restate the ‘problem’ experience so that they again fully associate into it and thus help to ensure that your reframe has maximum impact when you deliver it. This can also be a useful way to allow yourself some time to construct your reframe without rushing.
- Deliver your reframe congruently
- Practise sensory acuity – this time to check if the person responds differently when considering the ‘problem’ behaviour
- Test and future pace your reframe to ensure that its effects will persist, i.e. if the ‘problem’ experience relates to a particular location try asking a question about that location later on and see if the person still responds in the way they did immediately following your reframe, indicating that your reframe has stuck, or if they revert back to the behavioural sequence they displayed before the reframe, indicating that the reframe hasn’t stuck.
Your context reframes and meaning reframes will be much more effective when you remember to include these basics.