The origins of NLP

The originators of NLP are Dr. John Grinder, Richard Bandler, and Frank Pucelik. NLP began with the modelling of a genius: Fritz Perls, the father of Gestalt therapy. When they began the project that led to the birth of NLP, Grinder was an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Bandler was an undergraduate psychology student. In the beginning, Bandler approached Grinder with a request to assist him in building an explicit model of the intuitive skills he had in doing Gestalt therapy. Bandler’s ability with Gestalt therapy was unconscious. He could get results with Gestalt but did not have an explicit model of how he did it. Therefore, he could not pass on the skills of using Gestalt to others with any guarantee of the quality of the skill transfer. Bandler had modelled Perls implicitly; that is, he acquired the ability to do Gestalt through an unconscious uptake of Perls’ patterns. Bandler had acquired his considerable skills in doing Gestalt while working for a publishing company. He reviewed hours of audio recordings of Fritz Perls working his psychotherapy magic with clients to select appropriate material for transcribing for the last of Perls’ books.

The originators of NLP are Dr John Grinder, Richard Bandler and Frank Pucelik.”

Grinder’s background made him ideal for the task of modelling Bandler. Once he was unconsciously competent in Gestalt, he was able to achieve a similar result for clients with the same types of presenting problems in the same time frame as Bandler. He could then build an explicit model. As well as being fluent in a number of languages, Grinder’s academic speciality was an aspect of linguistics developed by Noam Chomsky called transformational grammar.

Grinder was successful. He was able to get similar results to Bandler, and then he made explicit a number of language patterns of particular responses to particular forms in the speech of clients. These patterns were being used systematically and unconsciously by Bandler. Grinder, having modelled them, recognised these patterns as belonging to a particular class of language patterns in linguistics and was able to extend the collection of patterns to include others from the same class. Bandler and Grinder then tested the patterns and formulated what became the first model of NLP: the Meta Model of Language.

“Bandler and Grinder then tested the patterns and formulated what became the first model of NLP: the Meta Model.”

The Meta Model, Representational Systems and the Milton Model

The Meta Model provides a method for obtaining high-quality information from clients through responding to the form of the client’s language. The Meta Model has proven invaluable in other contexts too. These include such areas as business consulting, management, and any other context where obtaining high-quality information in human communication is critical. Bandler and Grinder then conducted other modelling projects and produced new models, including the representational system model, the eye accessing cue model, and the Milton model.

Briefly, the representational system model, another model of human communication, states that, as human beings, we represent our experience in the world with visual images, auditory representations, and sensations (or kinaesthetic representations). In other words, we think in images, sounds, and sensations, and these representations are often expressed in the choice of adjectives and verbs that we use. A person might say, ‘… my future looks unclear to me.’ This statement presupposes that the person has a visual representation of their future that lacks clarity. One way to work with this person would be to evoke resources in the visual system that may lead to clarity, e.g. ‘What resources would you need to develop possible futures clearly?’ A comment may have a predominance of auditory predicates: ‘I have a matter that I need to talk about.’ One possible response may be, ‘Tell me what you want to say.’ A person may use kinaesthetic predicates in a sentence: ‘I feel a need to shape the situation in a better way.’ A possible response could be, ‘Can you get in touch with what it would be like if you had the situation feeling just right?’

It is our representations of the world that provide our ‘maps’ for how we live our lives. With a working knowledge of representational systems and the processes of how people use their representations, we can assist others (and ourselves) in creating change. The specific sequences of representations or thought processes can be the difference between success and failure in some particular context of endeavour. It is useful to engage the unconscious mind in changing a pattern of thinking or finding and developing a state of resourcefulness with useful patterns of representation.

“It is our representations of the world that provide our ‘maps’ for how we live our lives.”

The Milton model is a linguistic model of the language patterns used by the legendary psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson, MD, to do therapeutic hypnosis. Even though the Milton model comes from and has application to, the world of therapy, many of the linguistic patterns of this model can be found in everyday communication. The advantage of the Milton model of NLP is that it provides a method for communicating with the unconscious mind.

(Note: If you would like to learn more about the New Code of NLP, you can get a copy of our latest Kindle book, ‘AEGIS: Patterns for extending your reach in life, work & leisure’ by Jules Collingwood, NLP Trainer. For only $4.99 here).

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Learn more about NLP by reading our Ultimate NLP Compendium of NLP

Chris Collingwood, NLP Trainer at INSPIRITIVE

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