Pattern Applications

Thinking Like A Magician

Thinking In Patterns

Pattern Thinking As An Art And A Skill

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke

When it comes to our choices about what to think and how to think, we have a great many options. We referred to this in Chapter 8 with regard to thinking patterns.

For instance, we can think inductively from many particulars and move up to some general principle. We can think deductively down from some global understanding as we move down to specific applications. We can even think, as Gregory Bateson described and recommended, abductively, by using metaphors and analogies, and reason across from one thing to another thing. Lakoff and Johnson (1980) and numerous cognitive theorists argue for the metaphorical basis of cognition in making sense of things.

We can also think in sights, sounds, sensations and in words (representational systems). We can think by matching and comparing for similarities or we can think by mismatching and comparing for differences (sorting for sameness versus difference). We can think in terms of what we think and know or what others think and know ("self" and "other" referencing). Indeed, we have many kinds of ways of thinking.

In terms of a thinking style that we have assumed throughout this work—we have encouraged a strategic and procedural style rather than an optional or creative style. By identifying patterned ways of redirecting consciousness in expanding one's conceptual maps, we have relied on specific patterns. In doing so, we have presupposed that you can easily shift to thinking in patterns. When you do, such pattern thinking gives you specific procedures for how to use your brain so that you can more effectively manage yourself and your states. This also presupposes that certain processes inherently work better than others and that we can learn specific strategies for effectiveness which govern specific domains. By learning to think in terms of strategic patterns, we can more easily adopt the most effective strategies.

This dovetails into the chapter on Strategies (chapter 10) wherein we described the importance of modeling. After all, these NLP patterns, for the most part, arose from modeling as a special kind of pattern thinking. Thus the special kind of thinking involved in modeling human subjectivity leads us to sort for and think about such things as the following:

• How does a person develop pattern thinking in order to generate patterns?

• What kind of thinking may interfere with pattern thinking?

• Will pattern thinking interfere with creative thinking, critical thinking, or intuitive thinking?

Pattern Thinking

The processes that work so efficiently, quickly, and thoroughly in the Cognitive-Behavioral psychologies do so because of the emphasis on hoiv rather than why. This separates the "why" models of human functioning that function on explanation and understanding origins and history (e.g., psychoanalysis, Jungian, Adlerian, Ego, Humanistic Existential, Transpersonal, etc.) from the "how" models that focus on process and structure (NLP, Brief, Gestalt, Reality Therapy, REBT, etc.).

How thinking skips over the psycho-theological belief systems about origins and "meanings" and goes right to structure. How should we code this or that information (as ideas, beliefs, understandings) to create a strategy (or model of the world) that will allow us to function in business, friendship, intimate relationships, recreation, etc., with much more p;ission and joy? Once we find the structure of experience (regardless of content) we can change that very structure via modalities and submodalities.

This bypasses resistance, psycho-archeology, the need for understanding its source, etc. It enables us to work in a much more solution-focused way. Working at the structural level of experience (beliefs, behaviors, emotion, etc.) in our neurology allows us to make changes without knowing a lot of content. Theoreticians designate this approach as "process psychology." We look for the process; we ask process questions ("IIow do you prevent the problem from occurring?"); we identify processes at work ("So when you hear her voice, that loud shrilling voice in your head, that really 'rattles your cage'"); and facilitate trying out new processes ("Now shrink down that picture and allow it to fade out").

Shifting Front Content To Process

If pattern thinking involves shifting out of the "content" of thoughts to a higher logical level—thinking about the structure and process of thoughts—how do we do this? What steps do we need to take to make this shift?

First, we need to recognize the difference between the two. So many people don't. Actually this describes part of the problem— people get caught up in the content.

Whenever we develop tunnel vision about a problem or solution, we can only see one thing—and it looms huge in our sight. We then filter out "unique outcomes," exceptions, counter-examples, alternatives, etc. Filtering out the positive, we then use our tunnel vision perspective to predict a gloomy future. In becoming more and more caught up in the problem, we personalize, calastrophize, over-generalize, think in all-or-nothing terms, and then end up prophesying, "It's hopeless."

Even therapists frequently don't always operate from a process approach. They can also lose perspective and get caught up in the content. At that point, we typically have two people experiencing a stuck state! Therapists who suffer burn-out frequently reach that point because they let the client's languaging of their dilemmas function as an hypnotic induction!

Getting "caught up in the details of the client's content" also occurs when therapists forget that diagnostic labels only operate as symbols and like other words, "they are not real." Labels only exist as linguistic maps and explanatory schemes. Forgetting to treat the labels as just labels, therapists fail to see the person behind the label.

Second, we need the ability to step aside from the content. Once we recognize the difference between content and process, we can step aside from the content. This means that we can put our beliefs on hold, treat them tentatively, not taking our language or stories (or those of others) too seriously.

Using our map-territory understanding of how the nervous system abstracts information from the world to create our understandings enables us to treat till human constructs as just that— human constructs. This helps us to lighten up, reject "seriousness," see things more humorously, and realize that more often than not we (and others) have simply languaged ourselves for misery.

General Semantics introduces several formulations that can assist us at this point.

1. The map-territory distinction, "The map is not the territory".

2. Consciousness of abstracting or awareness that our subjective reality arises from and reflects our abstracting and does not necessarily correspond with "reality."

3. Tentativeness—a tentative attitude about the "reality" of our maps, our words, our ideas, our feelings. "It seems to meat this point in time..."

4. Indexing the specifics: what, when, where, who, how, in what way, from what source, etc.

5. Etc. "I can never say all about anything. Therefore I need to append my statements with 'etc.'" [Ah, now you have an explanation for the apparent over-use of etc. in this text!]

Understanding and using these formulations assists us in not getting caught up in content. They enable us to maintain a sanity about our human constructions, since no identity exists, only non-identity exists. In other words, "sameness" does not exist in process reality, only differences. This means that everything continually changes, shifts, alters, transforms. So allness and identity exist as illusions and can lead to unsanity.

Recognizing these things enables us to step back or, as Bateson said, to go "meta" to our content and think-feel about it at a higher logical level. Taking a higher perspective means using our self-reflexive consciousness and engaging in an advanced form of human thinking—thinking about our thinking.

Third, we need to practice "going meta" and noticing the structural elements in the content. NLP does this in its basic model since we have to step back and identify the different modes of awareness. Noticing the visual, auditory and kinesthetic representations (VAK) puts us at a higher logical level than content. Again, we moved to another process level when we began making distinctions in the qualities of the modalities and specified some of the submodalities.

Learning the strategy model facilitates moving from content to process, it operates at the process level to the extent that it causes us to notice how an experience functions. It facilitates our under-standing about the syntax of the experience.

The Meta-States Model further provides us with a rich awareness of structure, as it moves our awareness even higher through moving up logical levels. This model takes into consideration the structural effect when we bring a state of consciousness (of mind-body) to bear upon another state of consciousness (as in fear of fear, anger at fear, etc.).

Fourth, develop awareness about structures and processes in subjectivity. The more structural facets that we know and under-stand, the more ability we will have to conceptually step aside and notice process. So far we have offered for your consideration:

• Modalities (Representational Systems)

• Submodalities

• Meta-programs (sorting styles)

• Strategies (TOTEs as sequences of RS)

Even the transformation patterns gets us thinking more about process and structure than content. This develops our intuitive sense of how patterns work, what makes them work, how to generate them with ourselves and others, how to quality-test them, etc.


NLP, as a model of human excellence and psychosis, began via a process of modeling. The founders of this domain initiated their work by asking process questions:

• "How does this piece of human subjectivity work?"

• "What patterns of internal processing go into the formula that generates this?"

• "How can we structurally describe the patterns and meta-pattems?"

Thus, modeling a person's strategy for a piece of genius, or for a piece of psychosis such as schizophrenia, has structure. In this chapter we have suggested the importance of thinking in terms of patterns—curiosity about structuring patterns, understanding of pattern analysis, skill in replication of enhancing patterns, etc. Accepting and perceiving patterns empowers us to recognize, identify, and replicate patterns of excellence. We then can "rim those patterns" through our own neuro-linguistics.

In the next two chapters we carry this analysis further. First, we will explore the wisdom involved in knowing what magic to do when (the very theme of this work). Then we will identify a few major domains of application and how to do pattern thinking in those areas to create ever-increasing levels of excellence.

Figuring Out What Magic To Do At What Times

Robert Dilts, in the context of thinking about and designing a "Unified Field Theory of NLP," has raised a central question that frequently comes up with regard to using these magical NLP patterns. We have used this question, in fact, as part of our formulation of this work. I (MH) have heard people raise this question repeatedly while conducting NLP training, namely,

"How do you know what to do when?"

As we now apply this to the N1.P toolbox containing scores of patterns, processes, and techniques, how can we figure out what pattern to use, with what difficulties, at what times, with regard to different individuals ?

In the 1950s, Abraham Maslow noted that, if you only have a hammer, the likelihood increases that you will tend to see every problem as something to hammer. Yet not every tool will work for every problem. The Visual-Kinesthetic Dissociation pattern, as a human technology, will not work for every presenting problem, nor will Six-step Reframing, or Core Transformation. This leads us to postulate several very important questions:

• When will a particular pattern work?

• When will that same pattern not work?

• What factors indicate use of a given pattern?

• What factors counter-indicate its use?

• What meta-level understandings guide our decisions about what pattern to choose?

• What understiindings assist us in deciding when to use it?

• What distinctions about "problems" can help us to sort and separate them?

To date, the NIP model has offered only a few guidelines, and very general ones at that, so we have, "When what you do doesn't zoork, try something else.' In spite of the general usefulness of this rule, it actually provides no direction about what to do. It only suggests that we do "something" different. It offers no distinctions about matching certain problems with certain patterns. Nor does this rule of flexibility prescribe what else to try. As such it only offers us a rule for a floundering flexibility rather than an intelligible flexibility.

Distinctions Inside "Problems"

Robert Dills (1995) has suggested thai we begin by first looking at "problems" themselves and then explore some distinctions that we can make with regard to them. In his 1995 seminar, Unified Field Theory of NIP, and in his 1996 article NI.P, Self Organization and Strategies of Change Management, he suggested two sets of distinctions: stable/unstable and simple/complex.

• "Is the problem stable or unstable?"

• "Does the problem present itself consistently, regularly, and predictably or does it present itself in an unstable way, inconsistent and random?"

The Stability Factor

Stable problems have a regularity and dependability about them. The person consistently and systemically experiences the problem. They can count on it. You can on it. For example, every time the person steps into ¿in elevator, he freaks out. Or, every time she hears that tone of voice, she feels an inner sense of panic.

Problems of this sort have a stable S-R (stimulus > response) structure. Thus the strategy that drives it involves a straightforward and habitual pattern. Within this structure, a synesthesia drives and organizes it in order to keep it consistently regular. I he person never gets into an elevator, rides up, goes into a meeting and then thinks, "Shoot, I forgot to feel panicky!" So we typically find stable problems operating from out-of-conscious awareness (unconscious processes).

Unstable problems operate from, and involve, a very different tone and structure. They come and go. They manifest an ebb and flow-that operates, seemingly, without rhyme or reason. Typically we can't figure them out! Nor can we count on them. They occur in random patterns. Now it occurs; now it doesn't. The problem lacks consistency and regularity. You can't count on the problem nor predict it.

Dilts describes this kind of problem as involving an ever-shifting landscape. He uses this phrase about "landscapes" as a vivid metaphor for unstable problems. For example, a person will suffer from depression on one occasion and from mania on the next. Or, a person can't decide about anything, and then later becomes rigidly dogmatic in his or her decisions. First they experience one set of symptoms, and then they experience another set.

Typically, unstable problems involve more complexity inasmuch as we have more "parts" or facets of personality (mind, emotion, meaning, viilue, beliefs, contexts, roles, etc.) that play a part in the process. With unstable problems we should therefore inquire about the number of component pieces or elements that play a contributing factor to the difficulty.

The Complexity Factor

After the stable/unstable distinction, we can look for and take into consideration the complexity of a problem.

• "How simple or complex do we find the problem?"

• "When we examine the structure of the problem, how would we describe the manner of its operation? In a simple or complex manner?"

• "Does it involve just primarily level functions and operations, or does it involve reflexive processes that loop back from output at one time that later becomes input?"

Sitnple problems involve direct, immediate, and primary level processes. Phobias fit this description. So do allergies. When the stimulus occurs, the person then has a direct response to it. Again, stimulus > response. Simple problems generally contain just a few elements rather than many components. Dilts, continuing his metaphor, describes this as having a "solid landscape."

Complex problems, on the other hand, involve many elements and may also involve many layers or levels of involvement. Thus Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) certainly has the S-R structure to it of a phobia. It also has many other components, i.e. the fear response not only to a sight, sound, sensation, but to many sights, sounds, and sensations. It may also involve many levels. Thus someone suffering from PTSD may have not only a strategy to fear darkness, the sound of footsteps, and other primary level stimuli, but also a strategy to experience a panic attack at the thought of such a memory, at the idea of abuse, at the meaning of being controlled, etc.

With these two factors we can now create a quadrant of four interfaces that allows us to examine problems for simple/complex and stable/unstable.

Figure 12.1

Change Quadrants







(Consistent, Predictable, Regular)



Unpredictable, Irregular)


(Consistent, Predictable, Regular)



Unpredictable, Irregular)

Problem Analysis

In Quadrant I of the chart we have simple and stable problems (e.g., phobias, allergies, stuck in a negative emotional state, decisions, or limitations, unproductive strategies, procrastination, depressions, learned helplessness, etc.) These problems stay put and operate regularly and systematically. So more often than not, one profound shift at the key leverage point may create profound, radical, and surprising transformation. Magic!

Thus we experience the magical effects of "the phobia cure" in NLP. It works fast, and profoundly. So with other shifts, when we come upon a methodologically regular strategy—and we intervene so that it can't keep functioning as it has. Herein lie most of the highly celebrated interventions of NLP.

In Quadrant II we have simple, but unstable, problems. These come and go in a random and imp red ic table manner—uncontrollable anger that flares up unpredictably, stress overloads that come "out of the blue," manic-depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, etc. Sometimes you have these kinds of problems— sometimes you don't. Here a person may think he or she has created a solution or resolution to a difficulty, only to find it reappearing at a later date.

Contexts play a crucial role in these kinds of problems. The problem may not occur daily. It probably does not operate as part of one's basic orientation through the world—which also explains why a person doesn't "understand" the problem when it does occur. "I'm not a violent person." "I don't even believe in getting upset with someone." "1 don't know why I get into that kind of a mood."

Thus the context of the person's ongoing state—that slowly and imperceptibly builds up until they have reached a place where other maps kick in—plays a much more crucial role in these problems. Here, then, we have to explore contexts, contexts over time, identity contexts, meaning contexts, etc.

In Quadrant III we have complex and stable problems. Though they involve many components and/or layers, we can predictably count on them. These include such things as PTSD, unenhancing meta-states (self-contempt), eating disorders, identity disorders, etc.

The difficulty with stable-and-complex problems lies in fully specifying all of the complexities that go into generating them.

• What other thoughts-and-feelings do you experience with regard to this problem?

• What other meanings?

• What other component pieces bleed over into this experience?

Here we will typically want to simplify and reduce the "problem" by pulling apart the complexities ¿md treating them as we would problems that occur in Quadrant 1.

In Quadrant IV we have complex, but unstable problems. These problems also come and go. Here again we can't predict when the complex problems will occur. They don't seem to operate from a systematic strategy. These include such phenomena as: multi-personality disorder, schizoform personality disorder, schizophrenia, etc.

If the stable-imd-complex problems of Quadrant 111 provide a challenge in identifying all of the different component pieces that go into making them up, here we have another complicating problem. The problem won't hold still so that we can take a good clear picture of it. Its lack of stability causes it to continually shift and change, and this can sabotage a clear and precise description of it.

Tracking A Problem's Trajectory

WTiat happens to a simple-and-stable problem (I) when it becomes unstable (II)? When a phobia (I) becomes unstable (II) it ceases to operate as a dependable phobia. As it de-stabilizes, it breaks up the rigid S-R patterning. This destabilization creates a space for change and transformation.

What happens to a simple-and-stable problem (I) when it becomes complex (111)? When a phobia (1) becomes complex (ill), it becomes stronger and more rigid, just in new and more complicating ways—as PTSD or agoraphobia. Now the problem takes on new layers and levels so that the person fears his fear, fears time, fears self, fears higher level fears.

What happens when a complex-and-stable problem (III) becomes unstable (IV)? De-stabilizing the rigid synesthesia patterns breaks up the constructions, again making room for change and a new reconstruction.

What happens when a simple-and-unstable problem (11) becomes complex (III)? It becomes a quadrant IV problem—complex and unstable.

What happens when a complex-and-unstable problem (IV) becomes simple-and-unstable (II)? It becomes somewhat more rminageable and even more so if it becomes simple-and-stable.

Guidelines For Choosing Patterns For Interventions

When we come across a stable, regular, and consistent problem, we may first want to de-stabilize it. By de-stabilizing the structure, it frequently becomes de-l'ramed and cannot exist any more. At other times, it simply opens up space for us whereby we can bring about change. Three powerful means for deframing and deconstructing a reality include: Meta-modeling, strategy analysis, and submodality exploration. Writh these technologies, we can alter the structure of the problem.

When it comes to problems that have much complexity and layeredness, we can focus prinuirily on simplifying and reducing their size and shape. This enables us to fragment them. And, in so fragmenting them, we essentially use the strategy of "dividing and conquering." Then it becomes easier to find or create solutions to smaller problems. Reducing the confusion clarifies the processes. Then we can begin to sort out the complexities, discover the time element that operates, etc.

When we encounter an unstable problem, we will want to go to the opposite direction, and stabilize it. Stabilizing a problem thereby transforms an unstable and unwielding problem so that it operates with more regularity. And by giving it more stability, we can "hold it still" long enough to identify its underlying strategy and the components that drive it. I low do we so stabilize an unstable problem? We can provide more feedback and more reflexiveness from a meta-level about its functioning. These things generally help to stabilize a process. Moving to a higher level of resolution can provide help as it establishes a meta-level of stability, as an "Agreement Frame" does in a conflict.

When instability arises from lack of focus and direction—we can simply begin to identify some goals, values, and outcomes. "On what level do you think or feel this?" "On what level do you want this outcome?"

Levels Of Problems

In an early work on NLP, Robert Dilts (1983) made another set of distinctions about "problems." He sorted out differences, which I (MH, 1995, 1996) have labeled primary state experiences and behaviors, from meta-level constructions. This refers to the logical levels involved in a problem.

The more acute behaviors, such as bad habits, compulsions, and phobias tend to constitute content behaviors and are fairly easily dealt with by employing simple anchoring techniques of deprogramming and program substitution. Behavior such as chronic depression, psychosis, or neurosis will probably require state-altering techniques, such as interruption, exaggeration or the various verbal and non-verbal tracking techniques.

This suggests that when we work with meta-level structures, we can expect more complexity, layeredness, and therefore a longer time element involved in bringing it to resolution. Dilts (1990, page 70) described how he discovered that it took a longer time when he worked with the meta-level nature of beliefs. He noted that this took longer, not because it "should take a long time and be complicated," but because sometimes things have a layered nature to them so that it takes more time to uncover the true structure of things.

If we work on a problem that involves meta-levels at the same level of the problem, it will take much longer. But if we move to a higher level and outframe the problem from that position—sometimes we can perform meta-magic that "in one fell swoop" can change a response in a moment. For more on this see Advanced NIP Modeling—NI.P: Going Meta: Modeling And Engineering Human (Hall, 1997).

When we have more layeredness within a "problem," we generally have a structure of reflexivity. This means that not only do we have some fears or angers about something and that creates suffering, but we have thoughts-and-feelings about those first thoughts-and-feelings. To explore the layeredness of a problem we have to pull apart the reflexivity to find the patterns of psychic energy turning back onto itself. This feedback of previous thoughts-and-feelings and concepts back into the system will indicate how complex a system we have on our hands.

More "Problem" Distinctions

Emotional Intensity. How much energy or emotional intensity does a given problem have? How compelling does it feel to the person? How much does it drive them? Do they feel that it operates on the edge of consciousness or ¿it the center? When the "problem" occurs, does it totally consume and drive them or does it just gnaw at them from the edges? How much does the problem enter into consciousness? A little, or does it totally consume them?

As we ask these questions about the emotional intensity of a "problem," we probe to understand the psychological world of the sufferer. Some "problems" do not even break forth into consciousness. A person may procrastinate, fall into a depression, break forth into a rageaholic episode, and hardly notice it. Another person may experience running the very same behaviors and do so painfully conscious of doing so. One person may run these behaviors, but not compulsively. If they notice themselves procrastinating, depressing, raging, etc., they may simply stop doing so.

For them, conscious awareness brings control. For the others, conscious awareness only intensifies the pain, as it reminds them that "the problem has them" rather than that they have charge over the "problem."

Nor does the emotional intensity element make a "problem" more or less difficult to change. The most raging panic operates according to an internal coding structure and can change almost immediately when a person changes that format (as in the V-K dissociation technique). Prior to this understanding, theorists tended to assume that the emotional intensity of a problem meant "more entrenched, deeper, and more difficult to change." But the NLP model suggests that we recognize that the somatic kinesthetics (the emotional intensity) result from the coding. Code a fearful item from an associated perspective—close, loud, etc.—and it will crank up one's responses to it.

Habituation time. Generally, we find it important to inquire about how long a person has had a particular problem. Also, typically, the longer a person has suffered from a "problem," the more entrenched and solid (stable) the problem has become. But not always. By habituating and repeating a certain pattern of thinking, emoting, and responding, it formulates one's neurology. Doing this enables us to streamline the strategy and run it without consciousness. This empowers us to "fly into a state of" rage, panic, helplessness, etc. It also enables us to connect more and more things to the state so that we have more anchors for it.

These facets of habituation (more repetitions and associations, becoming more streamlined, with less conscious awareness) deepen the "problem" strategy. Yet the habituation process alone does not completely determine a problem's stability or en trenched ness. We do have to maintain it. And wre maintain a strategy by giving it importance, significance, and value. It has to keep serving some valued service.

Thus ongoing continual development of skill and competence, which typically occurs in human growth and development over the lifespan, can itself temper and even nullify "problems." In this way, we can simply outgrow a fear or phobia. Our overall general resourcefulness as a person makes the older fears less significant and realistic.

Accessibility of other resources. Obviously, "problems" do not exist in a vacuum, but within the whole person-as~an-organism in numerous contexts. This means that they exist alongside personal and contextual resources. Typically, the more resources that a person can access and bring to bear on a difficulty, the less of a "problem" that difficulty presents. And conversely, the fewer resources, the more problematic the difficulty.

Accordingly, in exploring a problem with any person, we will want to probe, detect, amplify, and apply resources to the problem. This explains why states of desperation amplify "problems." In such states, we blow things out of proportion, and engage in such cognitive distortions as personalizing, catastrophizing, awfulizing, negative filtering, thinking in dualistic either-or patterns, etc.

Here Brief Therapy, Ericksonian Hypnosis, Narrative Therapy, NIP and other solution-oriented therapies utilize the overall strategy of hunting dowrn, accessing, and creating resources. The more resourcefully a person thinks and feels depends on the coping and mastering skills that they can access and apply. How existen-tially safe does a person feel in his or her person? How much of a reality orientation does the person have? How skilled at problem-solving? At appropriate risk taking, at living with a sense of purpose and mission, at connecting in loving, affectionate, and supportive ways with others?


All "problems" that challenge and provoke us do not have the same structure. In this chapter we have explored the pattern of "problems" by looking at them in terms of stable/unstable and simple/complex. Making these distinctions with regard to stimulating events, information, and experiences allows us to have a better grasp about what to do with regard to different kinds of difficulties.

This means that even a great piece of "magic" will do you no good if you use it on the wrong problem! Thus—the right magic for the right problem!

Domains Of Use

Hints For Using NLP In Business, Education, Therapy, Sports, Health, Relationships, Etc.


NLP patterns offer lots of wonderful resources in the realms of business, management, team building, sales, and consulting. Basic communication skills offer resources for milking sense of things and communicating with precision and clarity. Numerous authors and trainers have adapted these patterns to the domain of creating and maintaining rapport.

We would direct the business person to chapter 3 on the basic patterns for learning and using "pacing" as well as to the "Precision Model" (Grinder's form of the Meta-model) in chapter 7. Since "communication" drives businesses, understanding the basic processes of communicating, and the rules for using the Meta-model linguistic muddledness (vagueness) in assisting others to clarify and to offer more precise descriptions, powerfully increases one's effectiveness.

As a professional communicator in the business realm—whether you seek to inform, teach, persuade, sell, market, etc.—you need to have a sense of what your words and non-verbal messages do in the minds-and-bodies of those who hear you. To lack this awareness limits you to "shooting in the dark," merely hoping that your language use will have its desired effect. But once you know that you always and inevitably induce those who listen to you into states of mind-and-emotion, you can begin to use your languaging (verbally and non-verbally) more consciously and creatively. Here the patterns in chapter 6 on state inductions will provide much assistance.

What state or states do you typically evoke in people? What stales assist and enhance your work? Which do not? What states would you like to have more power in evoking? How do you recognize such in those around you? This underscores the importance of calibration skills and the ability to work at meta-levels.

Further, in business we inevitably operate out of our own Meta-programs that govern how and what we sort for, and so does everybody with whom we interact. We identified the NLP Meta-programs in chapter 8 and suggested that these programs operate as different channels of awareness, so to speak. Does the person need details first, or the big picture? Does your boss want you to give him or her a procedure, or several options, for getting a job done? What does your client sort for when he or she decides to make a purchase? WTiat convinces that person?

In business, consulting, iruinaging, selling, marketing, etc., we also sometimes need to have well-developed specific procedures or strategies. We addressed the subject of NLP strategies in chapter 10. What does the strategy for effectively managing resistant employees look like? What strategy does a successful person in the stock market use? What supporting beliefs does he or she utilize? How does one effectively manage to "confront" someone making a mistake and do so maintaining and giving dignity to the persons involved? (For full works on strategy analysis and design, see NLP: Volume 1, and NLP: Going Meta—Advance Modeling Using Meta-Levels.)


As a communication model of human learning, NI.P obviously has many, many applications in the domain of education and training. Accordingly, we would recommend that an educator begin with the basic patterns (chapter 3) as well as with the NI.P model itself (chapter 2) in order to become highly proficient in the representation systems and the kind of learning styles that students use.

This corresponds amazingly well to the work of Dr. Howard Gardner (1983, 1991, 1993) in his books on Multiple Intelligences. The eight intelligences that Gardner identified relate closely to NLP.

• Verbal-linguistic intelligence

• Logical-mathematical intelligence

• Visual-spatial intelligence

• Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence

• Musical-rhythmic intelligence

• Interpersonal intelligence

• Intrapersonal intelligence

• Naturalist intelligence

The basic NLP model about "mind" specifies our learning modalities (the VAK representational systems), ¿md then, at a meta-level, the multiple Meta-programs (chapter 8), provide even greater levels of distinctions regarding how we input and process information.

Further, inasmuch as every learning context involves a holistic mind-body state, educators inevitably have to attend to the mind-body states in which they find their learners. Since state-dependency means that a non-enhancing state can actually prevent learning, a professional teacher must work with the neuro-linguistic states that their students bring into class. Without question, in most schools teachers can in fact count on their students probably not coming to school in a conducive learning state. This makes the NLP patterns for working with and managing states (chapter 6) very important.

Wisdom, in fact, would suggest, don't you think, that an effective and professional educator would have a well-developed ¿md explicit strategy for eliciting learning states, inducing states of curiosity, wonder, openness, excitement, etc.? And, if we back up one step further, then we would want to explore the best strategy to put ourselves into a state where we even think about modeling excellent examples of teachers (chapter 10).

For fuller works on the application of NLP to education, see Sid Jacobson's three volumes Meta-Cation, Joseph Yeager's work Thinking About Thinking Using Nl.P, and Michael Grinder's ENVoY: Personal Guide to Classroom Management.


Interestingly enough, even though NLP began via a modeling project of three world-renowned therapists from three different psychological models, in the initial work, The Structure Of Magic, Volume I (1975), Bandler and Grinder essentially assumed and created a Cognitive-Behavioral model. Subsequently NLP has been located within the Cognitive-Behavioral "school" of psychology ever since (Gilliland, James, and Bowman, 1989, pp. 249). And so it should.

In psychotherapy, the chapters on conflicting parts (chapter 4), identity (chapter 5), meaning (chapter 9), states (chapter 6) and strategies (chapter 10) will offer a wide range of interventions. Yet since these NLP patterns grew out of the way language itself works (chapter 7) and the way human "minds" process it (chapter 8), the interventions at the level of thinking (the Meta-programs) and via Meta-modeling thus become highly generative.

NLP's therapeutic approach to problems, difficulties, and symptoms primarily involves seeking first to understand the internal structure and to then "mess" up that structure. In other words, there already exists a pattern or strategy in every "problem" whether depression, alcoholism, schizophrenia, an eating disorder, etc. So we ask ourselves and sometimes the client, "How does this problem work? "Teach me how to have this problem." "What do I have to think or feel or say first, then second, etc.?"

Pattern analysis enables us to follow the course of development of a difficulty from its origin (etimology), contributing factors, risk factors, component parts, symptoms, etc. This enables us to anticipate, predict, understand, diagnose, and treat the problem.

Treatment also has a pattern. We can trace the development of an intervention designed to ameliorate a problem and lead a person to a more wholesome and well-balanced life. Such therapeutic "magic" has structure. Si) learning its strategy enables us to practice such magic. We can identify and learn the internal and external structure of interacting with a client therapeutically so that our conversation, encounters, assignments, feedback, and process leads to solutions.

inasmuch as NLP presupposes the cognitive-behavioral model, this means that the values, effectiveness, and legitimacy of the Cognitive-Behavioral approach also apply to NT.P.

Cognitive-behavioral psychology indeed has now become one of the fastest growing movements in psychology. Since the 1960s it has gradually been replacing psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and Rogerian approaches. Further, it tends to show up in many forms of modern psychotherapy that do not even use that label or identify themselves as "cognitive" (i.e., Reality Therapy, Gestalt, Family Systems, etc.).

1. Efficacy ami Legitimacy. Since the 1960s the Cognitive-Behavioral approach has demonstrated efficacy with numerous symptoms in multiple studies. It also continues to head the list in terms of efficiency in meta-analysis studies. (See Garfield and Bergin, 1987, Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change: An Empirical Analysis).

2. Respectful Collaboration. The Cognitive-Behavioral therapist explains the actual mechanisms responsible for change in order to empower the client in owning and using the mechanisms. This reduces the "authority" or "expert" role that the older psychologies relied upon and invites the client to enter into a cooperative and respectful collaboration.

3. Holistic and Systemic. The Cognitive-Behavioral approach operates from an holistic understanding. It incorporates models and techniques that affect perception, understanding, and reason as well as neurology, physiology, environmental context, etc. In so doing, it utilizes a systems approach which avoids the dualistic and elementalistic problems of the older psychologies.

4. Efficiency Oriented. With the growth of managed health care, emphasis has shifted to doing therapy more efficiently so that it works more quickly and with more quality. The Cognitive-Behavioral model assumes that clients not only can learn, but want to take responsibility for themselves and not depend upon the therapist to inform them as to what their internal processes (dreams, emotions, ideas, passions, etc.) "really" mean. By respecting the dignity and personality of the client, this approach helps clients actualize potentials. It does so by taking more of an educational and skill development approach. I his moves therapy along much more quickly and puts the responsibility for one's own mental-emotional well-being where it belongs—on the client, with the therapist functioning primarily as coach, consultant, helper.

5. Process Oriented. The Cognitive-Behavioral approach focuses on processes, mechanisms of change, and models. This supports the idea that we started with in this work on patterns. If productively helping another human being to get a belter handle on life has an internal structure, then, as we discover those intervention patterns that we see effective clinicians use, we can model them and their patterns.

The NLP patterns in this work take the best of what works from many schools of psychology. Utilizing the ABCs model of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy of Ellis and the Cognitive Model of Beck, NLP expands the "Beliefs" in B a hundred-fold to a multiple of "intervening variables" (Tollman, 1932). in doing so, it provides a hundred new places for intervention at finer levels of analysis than just "belief change," "disputing irrational beliefs," "disputing with cognitive distortions," etc.

As a form of Brief psychotherapy, in NLP therapy, therapist and client co-create a therapeutic resolution by working together and establishing desired outcomes as well as methods for gauging and measuring movement toward these outcomes. In this approach, the therapist does not adopt the expert role, but the role of facilitator and coach. The client fully participates in the process and owns it. This avoids most of the "resistance" issues that plague other approaches.

This inter-active style also involves the therapist's playing an active and directive role, rather than a passive one. Once the client has identified his or her desired outcome, the therapist assists the client in moving toward the solution state. "Therapy" becomes a matter of structuring, a question about how to bridge from present state to solution state. Questions about resources and processes become increasingly important. Brief psychotherapy using NLP takes the following steps:

Step One: Identifying The Problem

Therapy begins with a person's story. The therapist initially only provides the context for Lhe story to be told. By providing this time and space for the problem story, the therapist offers a touch of grace—sympathy, empathy, understanding, validation, universalization, etc., of the problem.

Then, as the therapist reflects back an empathetic understanding of "the problem" and it matches or paces the person's felt and perceived sense of "reality," the therapeutic relationship begins. Building this sense of rapport sets the frame in therapy for more disclosure.

(As an aside, this work focuses primarily on the actual patterns of transformation which one will use to move a person from a problem state to a solution state. Nevertheless numerous NLP books have detailed the importance of the therapeutic relationship itself and the pattern of pacing (matching the person's model of the world) as the structure of empathy. See the bibliography.)

Simultaneously, the therapist begins to explore precisely and specifically the client's definitions of "the problem" and how it evidences a problem in life. Tills generates the therapeutic focus. In this exploratory stage, the therapist's empathy leads the client in becoming more and more specific and focused. Using the NLP Meta-model, the therapist gathers high quality information. So, as a client talks about "the problem," active Meta-modeling facilitates a new kind of talking or kmguaging of "the problem." It enables the person to mentally map out the problem with less ill-formedness and more precision and clarity. As this transpires, the person develops a more accurate and useful map for navigating life (chapter 7).

The therapist will use the Meta-model's questions to challenge and enhance the poor mapping. The aim of this? To empower the client to reaccess the experience from which they created their mental map and to then challenge the vagueness, fluff, ill-constructions, etc., of the map. This frees the person to then remap in much more accurate and empowering ways.

Step Tzvo: Specifying The Well-formed Solution State

Once the client has identified what he or she finds problematic and has explained his/her map of die problem, the therapy quickly shifts to a solution-focus.

"What do you want?"

"If vou didn't have this 'problem/ what would you want to have?"

"Think for a minute about the solution state that you would like to experience, and begin to describe for me what that would look like, sound like, feel like, how you would taLk to yourself, etc..."

To develop a well-formed outcome, the therapist uses certain criteria to govern the exploration of the client's desired outcome. Doing this re-directionalizes the client's thinking. Such questioning also empowers the client to think in terms of specific behavioral actions that they can take, in a step-by-step mariner, to allow them to move toward the solution effectively.

Specifying "The Problem"

As therapist and client become more specifically aware of a problem, this hones their therapeutic focus. In this work we have sorted "problems" into the seven categories enumerated in chapter 2. Repeated here, we offer a model for thinking about, ¿ind working with, problems. Using this classification of types or kinds of problems enables us to relate the NLP patterns to them. In other words, we have chosen to sort various "problems" as falling into these kinds of "issues."

• Parts—suffering from two or more "integral parts" in conflict

• Identity—suffering from having one's sense of self in distress

• States—experiencing problematic, unresourceful and/or emotional states of consciousness

• Language—experiencing cognitive errors in self-talk ¿md languaging oneself in negative and distressful ways

• Thinking—experiencing problems in thinking style, meta-

programs, and cognitive distortions

• Meanings—Suffering from limiting beliefs and diminished meanings

• Strategics—Suffering from not knowing how to engender a part of desired behavior (micro- and macro-behavior)

This purely arbitrary system simply provides a way to organize our thinking about the "issues" that people experience. Obviously a person may suffer from incongruity when one part of the self wants to play during work time and work when it is time to play. The client may also struggle with beliefs about such conflicts and what this implies about their identity, the states they get into, etc. So we do not want to think of these categories as exclusive, but merely as a way to sort out difficulties so we can address them methodically and effectively. If a particular pattern does not shift a "problem," we simply go to another category and address it from that angle.

Figure 13.1 (Figure 2.5 repeated here) The NLP Algorithm

Present State Desired Solution State

Description: specifically Specific description in how a problem terms of well-formedness

Bridging to—

Kinds of resources needed to move

• Farts—suffering from having two or more "parts" in conflict

• Identity—suffering from having one's sense of self in distress

• States—experiencing problematic unresourceful states of consciousness

• Language—experiencing cognitive errors in self-talk and languaging oneself in negative and distressful ways

• Thinking styles—suffering from cognitive and perceptual distortions or simply inappropriate Meta-programs

• Meanings—suffering from limiting beliefs and unenhancing meanings

• Strategics—suffering from not knowing how to arhieve a piece of desired behavior (micro- and macro-behavior)

Now, given these descriptions of NLP therapy, a good therapist using NLP patterns will:

1. Build rapport with the client to create a safe place for healing.

2. Use rapport to actively engage the client in the process.

3. Specify "the problem" so that a specific therapeutic focus develops.

4. Think and operate by moving from undesired state to desired state.

5. Access resources in the client for bridging from the now to the solution state.

6. Utilize specific strategies and patterns for change, calibrating throughout the process.

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  • riikka
    Where do NLP models come from in regard to coaching therapeutically?
    8 months ago

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