When it comes to understanding your clients’ inner world, words can only go so far. Clients can tell you what they’re conscious of (“My panic attacks come from nowhere!”), but they can’t tell you what they aren’t conscious of (“My panic attacks come from a preconscious desire to avoid embarrassment.”)  The unconscious, where the origins of panic and anxiety reside, isn’t easily accessed through traditional talk therapy.

That’s why Steve Andreas, NLP therapist and author of Virginia Satir: The Patterns of Her Magic, argues that the key to quickly helping clients eliminate their anxiety is asking the right questions, ones that prompt them to pay attention to their nonverbal thoughts and sensations. As he says in this brief video clip, “The crucial thing is to go inside the black box and find out what’s really going on inside somebody’s head, and words don’t usually do that. What’s really important is what kind of images clients make, what kind of talking to themselves they do, what kind of feelings they have.”


Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.

Steve Andreas

Steve Andreas, MA, was a developer of NLP methods and the author of Six Blind Elephants, Transforming Your Self, and Virginia Satir: the Patterns of Her Magic. He was coauthor, with his wife Connirae, of Heart of the Mind and Change Your Mind—and Keep the Change.