Introduction to: A Proposed Distinction for Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Anyone who claims to know or care about NLP is aware that the process of  modeling is the life blood of the field. The origin of NLP and its continued evolution come from the ability of NLP practitioners to model the verbal, cognitive and behavioral patterns (the “neuro-linguistic programs”) of exceptional people. It is frequently pointed out that the basis of NLP is modeling and not the “trail of techniques” that have been left in its wake.

For all of the acknowledgment and emphasis on modeling, however, there has not been a clear and shared perspective on exactly what NLP modeling is, nor an awareness that there are different varieties of modeling.

For some, modeling is essentially strategy elicitation. For others it simply means using NLP distinctions when describing some phenomenon. Others perceive modeling as the imitation of key behaviors.

The most powerful and generative models are those which capture something of the deep structure of the individual or individuals being observed. This is quite different than describing or imitating surface level behaviors. Reaching this deep structure has been one of the crowning achievements of NLP and requires a special methodology.

In the following article, John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St. Clair lay out a set of criteria for distinguishing between the unique form of modeling from which the initial techniques and distinctions of NLP were derived (“NLP modeling”) from other forms of modeling that apply NLP distinctions but use other means of information gathering and pattern fining.

The distinction presented in this article is a result of several ongoing discussions we have been having about the system of knowledge (or “epistemology”) of NLP. While different forms of modeling may be useful and even necessary in order address particular contexts or to reach particular outcomes, the distinction and criteria John and Carmen are proposing feel to me to be essential in order to more clearly establish and honor what is unique to NLP as a field as well as to respect its intellectual history.

I admit that my own modeling work frequently falls into the category that John and Carmen refer to as Analytic Modeling, and at other times applies a combination of Analytic and more pure NLP Modeling. I fully support John and Carmen in making this differentiation and believe it is vital that practitioners of NLP learn the unique form of NLP Modeling and understand its difference from Analytic Modeling.

As John and Carmen state, the distinction presented in this article are intended to be the beginning of a conversation for those committed to the field of NLP, an ongoing and hopefully fruitful conversation, to bring greater clarity, precision and understanding about the truly unique contributions of NLP.

As Gregory Bateson used to say, “Let it be heard.”

Robert Dilts

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An Introduction Time Lines in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Time line work is an essential component of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Originating from the pioneering efforts of Steve and Connirae Andreas, as well as John Grinder and Robert Dilts, time lines have evolved into powerful tools for introspection and personal growth. These NLP practitioners developed two main forms of time lines – internally represented and externally laid out.

Steve and Connirae Andreas initiated their approach through submodality distinctions, inviting individuals to visualize an internal line symbolising their life journey. Various colors and textures could be employed to represent different periods, and people could engage with these lines in multiple ways, such as floating above or looking out at them. Like other submodality exercises, time lines are most effective when they are vivid and easily navigable.

Concurrently, in 1987, John Grinder and Robert Dilts adopted a different methodology. They encouraged individuals to visualise a line on the ground, symbolising the person’s life from birth to the present and beyond. This external representation enabled people to physically engage with different periods, immerse themselves into specific experiences, or take a detached, meta perspective.

Contrary to some promotional efforts, time line work is not a separate entity but a versatile tool within NLP. A common misconception is the idea that revisiting a point on our time line prior to a traumatic event is enough for lasting change. This is far from the truth. While revisiting can serve as a good starting point, it’s crucial to also apply resources to the traumatic event itself, which allows us to modify our emotional response. This will be elaborated on in a future article titled “Reimprinting with Time Lines.”

What Exactly Is a Time Line?

A time line is a metaphorical framework that depicts how we perceive time, organize our memories, and plan for the future. This perception varies from person to person. Some may visualise the past as behind them, while others place it to one side. Time lines also differ in their levels of association or dissociation with our current experience. 

Common features do exist across time lines. For example, they usually align with our eye accessing cues, and adjustments to this alignment can often bring about emotional relief. Additionally, we can adapt our time lines to suit various life contexts, whether it’s work, family, or personal interests. Understanding your unique representation of time can empower you to make more effective decisions, plan and live a more fulfilling life.

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(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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The Who’s who of NLP

John Grinder

Dr. John Grinder is the co-creator of Neuro-linguistic Programming. He was an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz when Bandler first approached him for assistance in modelling the skills of Fritz Perls. Since co-creating the original models of NLP (the Meta model, representational systems, eye accessing cues and the Milton model) John has continued to model new patterns. First he co-created the NLP new code with Judith DeLozier. Then, more recently he has created NLP models and applications for cultural and organisational change in corporations with his partner Carmen Bostic St Clair. John and Carmen’s latest book ‘Whispering in the Wind‘ is a seminal work. It defines the scope of the field of NLP and specifies the necessary and sufficient conditions for effective NLP modelling. At the same time it identifies the intellectual antecedents of NLP and places the field in its historical context.

Richard Bandler

Richard Bandler is the other co-creator of NLP. Having co-created the original models of NLP with Grinder, Bandler produced a series of applications of NLP based on an elaboration of the sub modalities model. In recent years Richard has developed his new NLP model, Design Human Engineering.

Frank Pucelik

Frank Pucelik was the third person involved in the beginning of NLP. He worked with Richard Bandler in the first attempt to model the patterns used by Fritz Perls to achieve reliable success with Gestalt therapy. He remained in the original research group as a participating member when Bandler and Grinder teamed up. Frank is best known for co-writing ‘Magic Demystified’ with Byron Lewis. “Magic” remains an excellent introduction to NLP.

Contributing Developers to NLP

Leslie Cameron-Bandler

Leslie Cameron-Bandler was in the original Bandler and Grinder research group in Santa Cruz. Leslie is best known as the developer of Meta Programs, a content model in NLP. According to Leslie Cameron-Bandler,

“….for ten years I’d been looking for what’s the patterns that tell me about the person and for a long time I thought it was Meta Programmes and then it turned out not to be cause[sic.] they change by context too, so always I’d been looking for what’s the essence, what’s the core, because that’s what I want to be able to touch…”
From tape 6 side A of ‘Empowerment: The power that produces success’.

She also developed an NLP model for exploring patterns of organisation of emotions (with Michael Lebeau) and a system for modelling personality called the Imperative Self. Her model of the structure of emotions is published in the book ‘The Emotional Hostage’. She co-developed a description of modelling called ‘The Emprint Method’ with Michael LeBeau and David Gordon which is published in a book of the same name. Leslie’s model of the structure of emotions is an excellent application of NLP for creating emotional choice.

Judith DeLozier

Judith DeLozier was also in the original NLP research group. She co-developed the new code of NLP with John Grinder and together they wrote ‘Turtles All the Way Down; Prerequisites to personal genius’. Currently she works with Robert Dilts at Dynamic Learning Center in Santa Cruz, California. DeLozier and Grinder’s new code of NLP is one of the most significant contributions to establishing the field of NLP.

Stephen Gilligan

Dr. Stephen Gilligan was a member of the original research group with Dr. John Grinder and Richard Bandler when they were developing NLP at U.C.S.C. Santa Cruz. He was introduced to Dr. Milton H. Erickson at that time and has the distinction of being the only person to be invited to train with Erickson while still an undergraduate.

Over the next five years he spent a substantial amount of time with Erickson and has become a world leader in Erickson’s therapeutic methods. Today, Gilligan has a Ph.D. in psychology and is an influential member of the Erickson Foundation, an organisation of health professionals dedicated to the furtherance of Erickson’s work.

He also teaches Ericksonian hypnosis around the world, sponsored by members of the Ericksonian Foundation and some NLP training institutes. Gilligan is the author of ‘Therapeutic Trances; the Co-operation Principle in Ericksonian Psychotherapy’, ‘Therapeutic Conversations’, ‘The Courage to Love; Principles and Practices of Self-Relations Psychotherapy’. He edited ‘Brief Therapy; Myths, Methods and Metaphors’ with Dr. Jeffrey K. Zeig and co-presented two volumes of ‘The Syntax of Behavior’ tape series with Dr. John Grinder.

David Gordon

David Gordon was another member of the original NLP research group. His most notable area of contribution to NLP is the use of metaphors to effect change. He wrote ‘Therapeutic Metaphors’, co-wrote ‘Phoenix’ with Meribeth Meyers-Anderson and later co-wrote ‘Know How‘ and ‘The Emprint Method’ with Leslie Cameron-Bandler and Michael LeBeau. In recent years he has developed a model for modelling called the Experiential Array.

Robert Dilts

Robert has been involved with NLP since meeting John Grinder while a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He co-authored ‘Neuro-Linguistic Programming Volume 1’ along with John Grinder, Richard Bandler, Judith DeLozier and Leslie Cameron-Bandler in 1981. Since then he has written numerous books on NLP and its applications to health, creativity, education, leadership, business and NLP modelling. He is well known in the NLP community for his Re-Imprinting technique as well as other NLP formats and models. Over the last 20 years Robert has evolved a description of NLP which he calls Systemic NLP. Currently he works with Judith DeLozier and Teresa Epstein at NLP University in Santa Cruz.

Steve and Connirae Andreas

With over 20 years of experience in the discipline of NLP, Steve and his wife Connirae founded NLP Comprehensive, one of the first major NLP training institutes in the USA.

Steve Andreas was previously known as John O. Stevens when he was a significant figure in the Gestalt therapy and personal development movement. His publishing company, Real People Press published ‘Gestalt Therapy Verbatim’ by the creator of Gestalt Therapy, Fritz Perls and Perls’ autobiography, ‘In and Out the Garbage Pail’. Steve himself wrote ‘Awareness: Exploring, Experiencing and Experimenting’, a book of group exercise based on Gestalt Therapy.

Steve and Connirae edited and published many classic NLP books written by the originators, Richard Bandler and John Grinder. These include: ‘Frogs into Princes’, ‘Trance-formations’, ‘Reframing’ and ‘Using your Brain for a Change‘. Later they wrote many other books on NLP including ‘Virginia Satir, The patterns of her Magic’, ‘Core Transformation’, ‘Heart of the Mind’ and ‘Change your Mind and keep the Change’.

Steve and Connirae have developed a number of NLP processes based on their extensive work with sub modalities. These include the grief and forgiveness patterns and the original modelling and development of mental timelines in NLP.

Christina Hall

Chris is a well-known and respected international trainer and major contributor to the development of NLP. She began her NLP training with the Co-developers close to 25 years ago during the pioneering days (1977), and became a Certified NLP Trainer in 1980. Having spent five years (1981-1986) in apprenticeship training with NLP co-creator Richard Bandler. She has incorporated into her teachings and applications a unique and singular insider’s perspective.

Chris collaborated in producing some of the most outstanding developments of that time, including sub-modalities, the swish pattern, the compulsion blowout, temporal language patterns and verbal swishes, and many of the Sleight of Mouth Patterns. Focusing on a systems and holistic orientation, she has become best known for her work with the structure of time and her mastery and innovations in the area of language patterning an approach which she refers to as Neuro-Systemic linguistics’.

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