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The Collected Papers of Joseph Riggio

Utilising Soma-Semantic Modeling


Soma-Semantic™ Modeling Article:


Soma-Semantic™ Modeling is a process that is ultimately about leading people to attain the ability to manifest the state of experience they desire and is useful to them functionally.

The entry into the process is typically through the introduction of a "presenting problem" which is used as a lens to focus the attention towards the desired state experience.

E.g.: "I'm unhappy because I need to see Sam."

Using what I refer to as the "ultimate Meta-Model question," "What has to be true for 'this' to be true?" the structural form of the statement is unpacked and the inherent ill-formedness is identified. The process using this question then becomes: "What has to be true for this client to be unhappy because they need to see Sam to be true?" What has to be true includes: 1.) they know what unhappy is like and they perceive themselves to be experiencing this now, 2.) they are experiencing a simultaneous "need" to see Sam, 3.) they must believe that they are not "seeing" Sam now and that not seeing Sam causes them to experience "unhappy," 4.) that it is possible that seeing Sam will shift their experience from "unhappy" to something else or that seeing Sam will shift something that is significant for them and relieve their "need." These are some presuppositions built into the structure of the statement that contains the "presenting problem."

A number of responses to this statement are possible. They include:

1. Do you really "need" to see Sam and what will happen if you cannot?
2. What will happen when/if you see Sam?
3. If you were not "unhappy" what would you be?
4. What is it like for you to be "happy?" (Note: There is the suggestion in this response that "happy" is the reverse or opposite of "unhappy" and that in some way when they "need" is relieved they will be "happy" instead of "unhappy." The author proposes that this presupposition is not necessarily valid for the structural form of semantic experience as it is for the pure semantic form in language.)

Note that each of these responses addresses some aspect or aspects of the presuppositions built into the statement containing the "presenting problem." The responses are listed in a hierarchical order of complexity in terms of addressing the structural form of expressed "presenting problem." Each response in the order presented goes further into the "deep" structure of the expressed "presenting problem" in terms of addressing the structural form as an intervention setting up or providing a reframe.

In each proposed response listed above the attention is on addressing the language form and the way it contains the symbolic-semantic representation. This presupposes that the language form "contains" the problem state. The assumption that such intervention strategies are built on is that reframing the language that contains the problem state will in turn reframe the problem state itself. This is a semantic intervention strategy. Semantic intervention strategies are based in a presupposition that "meaning" is held in the structural forms of the language that frames and contains states of experience. By shifting the semantic consideration the user of such intervention strategies presupposes that the problem state will shift along with the semantic consideration, i.e.: meaning as contained in the semantic form is the actual structure of experience itself. The evidence in application suggests that using this form of intervention does not always produce the desired state. It seems possible to repeatedly shift the semantic consideration in an infinite sequence, i.e.: the semantic consideration/form to/about the semantic consideration/form to/about the semantic consideration/form …, without necessarily reaching some ultimate semantic consideration/form that produces the state experience the client desires.

Another way to address such a "presenting problem" statement is to address the sensory construct that the statement presupposes. Challenging the presupposition that the client either "isn't" or "can't" see Sam now can do this. The most direct-indirect way of doing this would be to ask the client, "What is it like to "see" Sam? And following this statement up with another to redirect the attention to the visual deletion of "Sam." "What does Sam look like to/for you?" Then the submodalities of the visual representation can be elicited and amplified in the direction of excitation regarding the experience the client has of "Sam" as pure process using "Sam" only as the object of internal attention to develop the appropriate internal representational form for the excitatory experience the individual has in relation to "seeing Sam."

One way to do this is to redirect the attention away from Sam as the object of attention to another representation using the same submodality configuration of the client's state of excitation regarding "seeing Sam." The client's attention could be redirected in this way by using a question in the form of, "What else makes you feel like this when you see it or them?"


This is followed up with questions designed to redirect the attention even more onto the configuration of the representation and further from the object of the representation, "What is it specifically that you notice about this?" "How does it actually look to you?" "What is it that you see first when you look at something like this?" Going even further using this process the client's attention can be redirected to holding this submodality configuration in relation to the object of their attention regardless of what it is as it is useful and appropriate for them to do so.

Here using this kind of process the user is operating under the assumption that the state is configured and held in direct relation to the internal submodality configuration. The assumption is that if the submodality configuration is appropriately shifted the state experience of the individual will shift in response to the submodality configuration held. If the shift is to a submodality configuration of excitation, then the individual's state experience will be one of excitation. It is further presupposed that the individual cannot hold the submodality configuration of excitation and not have the state experience of excitation. There is evidence in application that these presuppositions do in fact produce the presupposed results suggested above.

Using the Soma-Semantic™ Modeling process to respond to the "presenting problem" the focus is immediately on the desired state experience of the client. Using an "elicitation-framing" question like, "What will have already changed for you if you've already seen Sam?" This question can only be answered from a consideration of the present state being the past state of a positive future state experience. This is contained in the grammatical form in which the question is asked. The structural form of such elicitation-framing questions is critical to the Soma-Semantic™ Modeling process. It is essential to force the consideration of the client immediately to a state experience of excitation. What is desired by the user of the Soma-Semantic™ Modeling process is the desired state experience of the client. How they experience the "presenting problem" or what must change for them to have what they desire is unimportant to this process. The significant information for the user of this process is the desired state experience that the client intends for himself or herself when the "presenting problem" is not present. A response to the elicitation-framing question by the client might be something like, "I'd be comfortable." "Comfortable" is presupposed to be the desired state of the client.

What distinguishes the Soma-Semantic™ Modeling process is how the response is utilized and responded to by the user of the process. The Soma-Semantic™ Modeling process is based in non-representational forms, i.e.: non-symbolic, non-linguistic. Instead of eliciting the internal sensory representations and symbolic representations (including linguistic representations) the attention is focused on the direct somatic experience of the client.

The response within the model is away from all further mentation about the desired state to directly establishing the desired state somatically. A question in the form of, "What is it like for you to be comfortable?" is used to initiate this process.

While the client is considering and making sense of the question the user of the Soma-Semantic™ Modeling process focuses all of their attention of the somatic shifts of the client. Regardless of what the client says about being "comfortable" the user of the process tracks the minimal somatic shifts as the most significant aspect of what comfortable is for the client. A presupposition of the model is that the somatic non-representational/non-symbolic form contains the state experience directly. The presupposition is that the somatic form is the state experience. The model suggests that the neurological state experience is contained in the somatic structure. The somatic form at any given moment in time including movement is what informs the neurology about the state experience, thereby for all intents and purposes generating and containing the state experience simultaneously.

The user of the Soma-Semantic™ Modeling process tracks the gross and subtle movements of the physiology (i.e.: the somatic form). An example of a description of the client might be something like:

E.g.: They breath deeply, look to their left 55° above the horizontal plane of the eye (at the center) parallel to the floor plane, 75° to their left from the centerline described by a line drawn from just above and directly between the eyes and continuing through the median of the chin, the focus is established at 39" forward from the vertical plane of the eye perpendicular to the floor plane and located at the foremost point of the eye itself. As the breath is released the shoulders drops slightly and the torso falls forward 3/8", the head tilts forward 1/2" and the fingers spread and relax slightly. The thighs relax perceptively and the hips drop, as this occurs the focus of the attention shifts down right (described in the same kind of specific and precise three-dimensional terminology used to describe the location of focus above to locate the specific point of attention in three-dimensional space relative to the client). After a momentary pause the head comes back up tilting 1/2" towards the rear of the torso becoming centered on and plumb with the spine. The focus is shifted again to a point directly ahead of the client (once again described in terms of relative three-dimensional space) and another deep breath is taken. The shoulders rise and fall back in unison and again the fingers spread and relax slightly. The thighs relax again as the hips rise and drop in unison with the shoulder rise and fall. The client then begins to speak about what is comfortable.

The user of the Soma-Semantic™ Modeling process uses this somatic process and the subsequent somatic configuration attained through it as the experience and description of comfortable.


It is this sequence of movement, the somatic-syntax, and the subsequent somatic configuration that both generates and holds the desired state of comfortable for this particular client in non-representational/non-symbolic terms. This sequence, the somatic-syntax, leading to the configuration of comfortable is then fed back to the client as a form of somatic-logic leading them again to the state experience of comfortable. Leading them through the entire sequence, including the movement of attention as presented by the movement of focus in the eye movements calibrated, again generates the desired state of comfortable in a directed accessed and reproducible process. It is this process and the somatic configuration that results from it, that informs and directs the neurology to the desired state experience of comfortable. This sequence is then unpacked, section-by-section and step-by-step, with the client until they can reproduce it on his or her own.

Only after and when the sequence and somatic configuration of comfortable is replicatable and replicated by the client is a semantic label assigned to the attained state experience. This is a symbolic representation in the form of a linguistic marker. It leads the attention back to the sequence and the state attained by running the sequence and coming to rest in the subsequent configuration. It is essential that the semantic label is elicited when the client has attained and while they retain the somatic configuration of comfortable. If they shift the somatic configuration or the focus of attention in any way it is imperative to lead them back to the configuration of comfortable using the sequence before eliciting the semantic label. This can be done as many times as necessary interrupting the client as they attempt to formulate a semantic label after shifting in any way the configuration and/or focus away from comfortable.

The elicitation question can be in the form of, "Like this what would you call this (gesturing and directing their attention to themselves as they are)?" Helping the client as necessary by redirecting their attention to the experience they have like this and also as necessary reestablishing the appropriate focus of attention and somatic configuration of comfortable as elicited and calibrated, the user will be able to link the semantic label to the initiation of the somatic process that leads to the configuration of the desired state experience. When the client offers the semantic label while retaining the somatic configuration and focus of attention of comfortable the user of the process then repeats it back to them in analog form (i.e.: all non-verbals retained).

© 2000-2003 Joseph Riggio / Applied Behavioral Technologies, Inc. - may not be used, reproduced or distributed without prior express written permission by any means including mechanical or electronic.

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