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Association & Dissociation: This is how you do it [explanation & meaning]

Association & Dissociation: This is how you do it [explanation & meaning]

Dissociating and associating is a wonderful skill you can give to yourself and clients. How do you do that, and how do you associate again? Read it in this article.

What is Association and Dissociation?

  • Association is fully living an experience with feeling.
  • Dissociation is looking at an experience from a distance – the third perception position.

When do you use association and dissociation?

You can use association and dissociation at all times. Below are examples of when you would like to associate and when you would like to dissociate.

When is dissociation desirable? Dissociating is useful in the following situations

By dissociating you have separated between you in the present, and the emotions of trauma or phobic reaction. So you can look at the experience safely and more clearly without those overwhelming feelings. You experience an experience less intensely. This allows you to reflect on it better and arrive at insights and perspectives.

  • Dissociation is also very helpful in providing factual and pure feedback.
  • With a little unpleasantness you would generally want to dissociate (3 e person) to get newer insights and awareness about those unpleasant experiences.
  • When setting goals, it is actually useful to dissociate from the pleasant, desired situation. Then you create, for your subconscious, more desire to achieve that, because you feel you are not there yet, and in fact you are.
  • When you want to take the load off to be able to think clearly. When you are dissociated or step out of the associated experience, you can look at your own body in the image. Now you can continue to think clearly.

When is association desirable? Associating is useful in the following situations

  • When is  association desirable? Association helps you learn, for example. You learn much faster by experiencing something !! Allow things to happen while you are in the middle of the experience – without trying to understand these experiences.
  • When is association even more useful? When you want to evoke a state of mind . Just start feeling how the feeling of a state of mind is getting stronger in you! This kinesthetic, associated aspect is essential in evoking moods and emotions.
  • You would generally like to associate with pleasantness.
  • When making goals, it is useful to also associate with the pain of the current, unwanted situation so that you are determined to get rid of it.

Association and dissociation is a very important part of the NLP Practitioner Training.

Dissociation helps! Because the diary of Mount Everest mountaineers is full of misery: ‘I wish I had never gone … So cold … Teen lost …’ (associated) but two weeks later (dissociated) they are ready to go again to go!

Feeling is inherent in association

The kinesthetic representation system is very suitable to become associated. Feeling is almost always something that you have to experience ‘live’. So it is very difficult to feel something dissociated. Viewing, on the other hand, is much more easily dissociated.

So especially use K (kinesthetic) during first-person exercises. You can also ask the following questions to keep someone in the feeling / association: ‘What does that do for you? How does that feel? ‘

You are now standing there again. Right on the spot where the event took place. You can now feel the hand of your husband in your hand.

Other ways to become associated or dissociated include …

Becoming dissociated (meta position) Become associated
A neutral fly on the wall looking at the situation. Or canoe along the experience that takes place on the shore and watch it. Experience the situation as yourself. Or sail there, get out and remember.
Making a picture of the experience and looking at it. Leaning back with your body. Imagine pushing the image further and further away from you. Stand above it. Literally lean forward. Step into the picture. Get in all the way.
Off the timeline. Be on the timeline. In addition, you always talk as if the experience you are standing on is happening in the now, even if you are in the past or in the future.
Talk about the client in the third person.
Both the coach and the client do this.
Talk directly about the client in you form.
Both the coach and the client do this.
Consider, with a reclining posture, “If you stand in a doorway and look at yourself, what do you see him / her doing?” Experience, with a bent forward posture: “Float in your body and relive the situation. You are in the situation.”
Do you see yourself from the front, back, left or right? You look through your own eyes.
What do you hear yourself say, what do you see in his posture? What do you think ? What do you know ? What do you notice? What else do you notice? What does that do for you? How does that make you feel? See the images, hear the sounds and feel the feelings (in your body).
Talking in the present,
past, or
future tense.
Talk in the present
Words dissociated: “The parents,” “that” hand. “ Associated words: ‘My parents’, ‘my hand’.
Visual representation system , rapid speech, shallow breathing, high-pitched voice … Kinesthetic representation system, slow speech, deep breathing, low voice …

Exercise – Go to third position with a canoe

  1. Do this exercise twice. First with only positive memories and then with only negative memories.
  2. Imagine sailing down a river in a canoe.
  3. You sail past all kinds of memories on the shore. As you sail past it, you naturally keep looking at everything in the third person.
  4. With some memories, step out of the canoe and into the memory.
  5. For some memories, get in the canoe and out of the memory to see the weather from a safe distance.
  6. At the end of the exercise, reflect on what effect the association and dissociation had on the experiences.

You can also adjust the intensity of an association or dissociation: ‘slide’. For example, you can take more steps backwards or sail with your canoe to a greater distance if a trauma memory is still felt too intensely.

Exercise – Recognizing association and dissociation in another person

Have a conversation with someone and recognize if someone is talking associated or dissociated. You can see this in the words and the body of the other. Is he almost reliving it or does he say as if he was completely out? Write down what behavior you saw or heard from the other person that led you to the conclusion.

Extra exercise: at a certain point you lead the other to association when he tells dissociated (or vice versa). Then ask him how he sees the situation differently (dissociated) or how he now experiences the situation differently (associated).

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!

1 Comment

  1. Ellen Luca

    Wow 🤩🥇❤️ the way you explain , it made me understand association and dissociation. I just began my course of NLP , and must thank you 🙏.

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rubin alaie author

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