Basic NLP Patterns

Hand Clap Collapsing Anchors

Collapsing Anchors can be an extremely efficient way of dealing with negative emotions surrounding historical events, however sometimes executing the technique can be confusing and convoluted.

This easy to apply hand clap technique can be performed really quickly with little or no introduction.  Its effectiveness is hidden in the simplicity of the technique and allows even the novice practitioner an easy way of introducing personal change.

This pattern is at its most effective with highly charged memories or situations as it allows for the greatest impact which itself can lead to further changes by the client.


This pattern doesn’t ‘remove’ a negative emotion but creates a new emotion from the combination of a negative and a positive state. Often this is enough to allow the client to reprocess any traumatic event on their own.

  1. Identify Negative State and Anchor
    Have the client identify a situation, memory or event that puts them into a negative state. Have them anchor this state to an imagined object in their non-dominant hand, adding colour, texture, temperature etc to their representation.

    The created object should be abstract rather than an item from the real world. Three dimensional geometric shapes (cubes, spheres, pyramids etc) work well for this as the client is unlikely to come across these object away from the pattern.

    The richer the representation the better, if necessary use sub-modality shifts to increase the intensity of the feeling in the object.

  2. Break State
    Have the client release the image and break out of the negative emotional state.
  3. Identify Positive State and Anchor
    Elicit an extreme positive state that the client would like to have in relation to this event or memory. This can be very difficult, especially with particularly traumatic experiences and the client may be very resistant to changing their emotional pattern.

    If the client is unwilling to entertain any positive emotional state with regards the event then identify a state that is the antithesis of the one that they currently hold with regards the event.

    Anchor this new state into their dominant hand, again using abstract shapes and adding physical attributes such as colour, temperature, brightness etc. It is important to make it at least as compelling as the negative anchor.

  4. Break State
    Clear the positive image and relax.
  5. Re-envision and Collapse
    With both hands out in front of them the client should bring back both the negative anchor (non-dominant hand) and positive anchor (dominant hand). The client should bring the hand together quickly in a clap and then rub the hands together (as if merging the two images), as they rub them have them recite nonsense words (“wisha-washa, rubba-rubba”, whatever works for you).

    When they bring their hands together it can be useful to watch their face as they are likely to reprocess the emotions which can often be seen as confusion. This is a sign that the pattern has been effective.

    After a few moments have them open their hands and check the to ensure that both images have gone and they are left with something different in their hands. It is imperative that the negative components are destroyed or at a minimum merged with the positive attributes.

  6. Test the Results
    Ask the client to recall the event that originally triggered the negative emotional state paying close attention to their reaction. It is likely that you will see some internal processing taking place as the emotional response is different from that usually experienced. 

    Very often the client will report feeling neutral or unencumbered by the experience due to the combination of the emotions. It is unlikely that they will experience the positive state with any intensity unless it was a considerably more powerful anchor.

    This state change can give you a good starting point for future personal change work.

Leave a Comment