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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Reinventing Oneself: The Role of Self-Concept in Entrepreneurial Success

What attributes do successful entrepreneurs possess that significantly impact their achievements? Can these qualities be cultivated and integrated into one’s character and self-concept? In this article, I argue that not only can these qualities be identified, but they can also be actively developed and woven into an individual’s character, leading to positive ramifications on their success in chosen pursuits.

It is undeniable that highly successful entrepreneurs differ from most of us. Their accomplishments go beyond building moderately thriving businesses; they create incredibly successful companies that sometimes change the world and enhance our lives with innovative products or services.

Overcoming the Fixed Personality Fallacy: Understanding the Fluidity of Character

Regrettably, in the English-speaking world, there is a prevalent cultural belief that one’s character, personality, or identity is fixed at a young age and remains unchanged throughout life. As the adage often attributed to Saint Augustine goes, “as the twig is bent so the tree will grow.” This saying implies that an individual’s traits and characteristics are determined by early life experiences 1. 

Recent meta-analyses of longitudinal studies reveal that this notion is false. Over a lifetime, an individual’s personality changes, often significantly. The factors most influential in producing personality changes are life circumstances and experiences 2.

In the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we not only dismiss the idea that personality traits and characteristics are fixed, we actively help clients change maladaptive or limiting qualities and, if desired, create and integrate new qualities into their self-concept.

One approach in NLP is bottom-up, wherein the NLP consultant or trainer exposes a person to new behavioural patterns through a series of experiences. By applying these new patterns diligently, the client develops new qualities that become part of their self-concept. For example, if an individual from Australia were immersed in a foreign culture and language without access to other English speakers, they would eventually learn the language and its cultural context. As they adapt to various new behavioural patterns, they develop new qualities that become part of their self-concept. Multilingual individuals can attest to the significant changes in perception and experience when shifting between linguistic codes.

A disciplined approach to learning NLP, wherein the student actively practises patterns using various techniques, leads to greater complexity and sophistication in how they interact with the world. The more the student can generalise NLP patterns into multiple contexts, the more likely they will develop new qualities within themselves, leading to changes in their self-concept.

Identifying and Exploring Qualities in One’s Identity: The Andreas Approach

Another NLP approach was developed by the late Steve Andreas. In his model, a person’s self-concept is composed of a collection of qualities or characteristics they possess. The skilled consultant trained in Andreas’s model helps the client identify a quality they believe is part of their identity. The consultant then aids the client in mapping out how the quality is represented in their past, present, and perceived future. The client typically has numerous examples of evidence for expressing the quality and an overall ‘felt sense’ of that quality being part of them. This mapped representation of the quality can then be used as a template to help the client build a new quality of their choosing.

I’ve personally employed a combination of these two methods, using NLP training to hone qualities I already possessed due to extensive experience. This approach not only improved my existing skills but also allowed me to incorporate new ones, dramatically impacting both my professional and personal life.

My extensive experience in training and facilitation, stemming from my lifelong involvement in learning and teaching NLP, has granted me invaluable insights. When we invited Steve Andreas to Australia to elucidate his model of self-concept, I opted to incorporate a skill I had honed for years, rather than adopting a specific quality as part of my self-concept. NLP training, a multifaceted and refined skill, encompasses numerous patterns such as reading non-verbal cues from participants, framing techniques, metaphor usage, live demonstrations, and question-and-answer sessions. I employed Steve’s self-concept model to organise a plethora of teaching experiences, including, as Steve suggests, a small proportion of suboptimal training instances.

Remarkably, in the ensuing weeks, I observed and received feedback from others regarding a notable enhancement in my training abilities. Although having a sturdy foundation in the skill or quality you wish to integrate into your self-concept is undoubtedly advantageous, it is worth noting that it is feasible to adopt a quality with which an individual has limited experience.

Another illustrative case involves a former student of ours who exhibited patterns that diminished her sense of agency 3. in the world. Throughout her participation in our Graduate Certificate program in NLP, she progressively developed, practised, and integrated a set of patterns that bolstered her aegis. I subsequently coached her in applying Steve’s self-concept model to weave aegis into her self-concept. The results have been transformative, positively influencing her professional and personal life, her relationships with family, and her ability to establish and attain significant goals. In her presentations, she now exudes a different aura, with a robust sense of presence.

Identifying Key Qualities to Integrate into Your Self-Concept

So, which qualities might you want to develop and integrate into your self-concept? Think of attributes such as confidence, courage, compassion, creativity, empathy, enthusiasm, generous, imaginative, independence, kindness, optimism, patience, perseverance, resourcefulness, self-awareness, discipline, sensitivity, thoughtfulness, tolerance, and many more. Test whether these qualities resonate with you by stating, “I am (X),” and note how you feel. If it feels right, you likely have that quality as part of your self-concept. If you think that you do have quality (X) then ask the follow-up question, “How do I know that (X) is part of who I am?” If the quality is part of your self-concept you will have many examples of evidence in your past history. 

Entrepreneurs tend to possess a range of qualities, including being visionary, passionate, resilient, self-motivated, creative, innovative, adaptable, decisive, and more. In my experience coaching successful entrepreneurs, I’ve observed several recurrent qualities: outcome-directed, optimistic, visionary, possessing a sense of agency or aegis 4, organised 5, innovative and adaptable. Cultivating these qualities and integrating them into one’s self-concept can significantly impact one’s entrepreneurial success.

The Four Quadrants of Future Outlook: How Optimism, Pessimism, and Definiteness Interact

The concept of Aegis, paired with optimism about the future, dovetails splendidly with PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel’s idea, as presented in his book “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” which can help us appreciate how these attitudes affect innovation, entrepreneurship, and progress. Thiel proposes a framework to characterise different cultural attitudes towards the future, using a quadrant comprising two axes: optimism versus pessimism and definite versus indefinite. This yields four possible mindsets.

Attitudes to the Future

Definite Optimism: Cultures subscribing to this mindset envisage a luminous future and devise specific plans to achieve it. They actively pursue their goals, confident in their capacity to shape the future. The United States during the 1950s-60s exemplified this attitude.

Indefinite Optimism: Cultures holding this outlook are hopeful for the future but lack concrete plans or objectives. They bank on the notion that progress will materialise on its own through external forces or serendipity. The United States has increasingly gravitated towards this perspective.

Definite Pessimism: This mindset acknowledges a dismal future but maintains that actions can mitigate the negative consequences. These cultures adopt conservative planning and concentrate on conserving resources to prepare for challenging times. This attitude has been prevalent in countries like Russia or China in the past.

Indefinite Pessimism: Cultures in this quadrant harbour a pessimistic view of the future without a lucid plan to tackle it. They tend to adopt passivity, depending on fate and external circumstances to steer the course of events. This mindset is widespread in some European countries, confronted with long-term economic stagnation.

Thiel’s construct proves instrumental in understanding how various cultures approach the future and the ramifications for innovation, entrepreneurship, and progress.

Thiel’s “definite optimism” 6 category meshes seamlessly with the previously discussed Aegis quality. Intriguingly, a person could possess Aegis yet remain pessimistic about the future. The specific amalgamation of qualities an individual has influences their entrepreneurial success.

In my estimation, Aegis, optimism about the future, trial and error learning (feedback), hard work, determination, and creativity/innovation constitute a triumphant combination. Identifying and actively cultivating the qualities that bolster your entrepreneurial endeavours is not only desirable but also feasible and executable. If you so wish, you can reinvent yourself to embody the traits of successful entrepreneurs as part of your self-concept or identity.

It is worth noting that incorporating a new quality into one’s self-concept still requires reference experiences of expressing that quality. Fortunately, even if the person has minimal experience with the desired quality in their personal history, the quality can be modelled from others as a basis for development and incorporation.

In my view, a winning combination for entrepreneurial success includes aegis, optimism, trial and error learning, hard work, determination, and creativity. Actively developing these qualities is not only desirable but also achievable. If you so desire, you can reinvent yourself to embody the qualities of successful entrepreneurs as part of your self-concept.

In our Graduate Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, we teach how to apply Steve’s model for developing new qualities as part of self-concept, along with other essential skills for entrepreneurial success such as advanced interpersonal communication and self-management. In my next article in this series, I will outline the specific key skills required for successful entrepreneurship and explore various options for developing expertise and expert performance in these crucial capabilities.

For further exploration I recommend the following; 


Aegis: Patterns for extending your reach in life, work and leisure. by Jules Collingwood

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. by Peter Theil with Blake Masters.

Transforming Yourself: Becoming who you want to be. by Steve Andreas.


What’s your Futures Mindset
This free questionnaire will assist you in discovering which of the following you are currently most aligned with; Definite Optimism, Indefinite Optimism, Definite Pessimism and Indefinite Pessimism. Do the questionnaire and receive a free report upon completion. 

Short Courses

Composing a Brighter Future with Chris Collingwood.

This remote learning course covers the essential patterns for creating a fulfilling future that is aligned with your most important values. It’s a must do program for entrepreneurs and individuals who want to begin the process of developing entrepreneurial skills

Competitive Advantage, States and Performance with Chris Collingwood

This remote learning course is for individuals who want to significantly improve their performance and make the most out of their most limited resource – their time, by optimising their states. This course is launching soon.

Comprehensive accredited training in NLP

10970NAT Graduate Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming with Chris and Jules Collingwood.

This comprehensive program in NLP is available in two formats, blended learning or fully online. Many of our graduates have gone on to develop very successful multimillion dollar businesses. 

Coaching with Chris Collingwood 

Consider one-on-one coaching either in-person or online for developing the qualities you need to be a successful entrepreneur. 

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  1.  An adjacent idea that certain events in the past are formative and cause limitations in the clients present life, is widely held in some forms of psychotherapy. Resulting in unnecessary and time consuming ‘psycho-archeology’.
  2. Personality Trait Change in Adulthood by Brent W. Roberts and Daniel Mroczek (2008). In this study, the authors conducted a meta-analysis of 92 longitudinal studies that examined personality traits across different age groups. The results showed that there are significant changes in personality across the lifespan, with some traits showing more change than others. The authors also noted that the degree of personality change can vary depending on life circumstances and experiences. For example, significant life events such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child can influence personality change.
  3. In psychology, agency refers to an individual’s sense of control or ability to take action and make choices that influence their environment or circumstances. It is the capacity of an individual to act independently and make their own decisions, rather than simply being a passive recipient of external events or influences. This sense of agency is closely related to concepts such as self-efficacy, personal responsibility, and autonomy, and is considered to be a fundamental aspect of human psychological functioning. It is often studied in the context of motivation, goal-setting, and achievement, as well as in the development of a healthy and adaptive sense of self.
  4. Aegis is a term coined by my partner Jules Collingwood that describes a sense of agency combined with the expectation of having authority to make decisions and take action without needing permission from a third party. In other words, it is a combination of personal agency and delegated authority. This sense of aegis enables individuals to proactively influence the context in which they operate to achieve the outcomes they desire. It implies a level of autonomy and responsibility, as well as the confidence to take risks and make decisions in pursuit of one’s goals. The concept of aegis is often associated with leadership and management, where individuals are expected to take charge of a situation and make decisions that affect the success of their organisation or team. In summary, aegis is a combination of agency and authority, and it is a powerful tool for achieving success and influencing outcomes in any context.
  5. An entrepreneur who is dedicated to organising and creating systems in every aspect of their business is someone who values efficiency, productivity, and sustainability. They understand that effective systems and processes are critical to the success of any business, and they work diligently to develop and implement strategies that streamline operations, reduce waste, and optimise performance. This process often involves careful planning, detailed analysis, and ongoing evaluation and refinement to ensure that each system is effective and efficient. By focusing on organisation and systemisation, entrepreneurs can create a culture of excellence and high performance within their business, which can lead to increased profitability, improved customer satisfaction, and long-term success. Whether it is implementing a new inventory management system or refining a customer service process, entrepreneurs who prioritise systemization are able to maximise the value of their time and resources, while ensuring that their business is always operating at its best.
  6.  If you personally already have the characteristics of a definite optimist, congratulations. This combination of qualities will assist you in your entrepreneurial endeavours. If you happen to fall into one of the other three quadrants, rest assured that you can, if you desire, cultivate and develop the qualities of a definite optimist.


Andreas, Steve. (2002). Transforming Yourself: Becoming who you want to be. Real People Press: Moab, UT

Collingwood, Jules. (2016). Aegis: Patterns for extending your reach in life, work and leisure. Emergent Publications: Sydney, Australia

Collingwood, Jules., Collingwood, Chris. (2001). The NLP Field Guide Part 1; A reference manual of practitioner level patterns. Emergent Publications: Sydney, Australia

Roberts, B.W. and Mroczek, D., 2008. Personality trait change in adulthood. Current directions in psychological science, 17(1), pp.31-35.

Theil, Peter., Masters, Blake. (2014). Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. Crown Business: New York

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NLP Practitioners Doing Therapy?!

Fairly often people object to having newly-minted NLP practitioners doing therapy (even if they call it “counseling,” or “personal change,” or something else). Typically there are two kinds of concern:

“How well can someone be helped?” and “What is the danger that someone might be harmed?” by an inappropriate method, or by the therapist’s lack of skill in applying an appropriate method, etc. Although these two concerns are not completely independent, let’s first address the effectiveness concern, “How well can someone be helped?”


Certainly it would be better if Certification trainings were much longer and more thorough, so that Practitioners offering themselves as psychotherapists were better trained. However, practically speaking, getting people to come to a 24-day practitioner training is hard enough (which is one reason why so many “Practitioner” trainings are considerably shorter). How many would come to a 240 day training? Yet even a 240-day training would be less time than a college student spends in their freshman year! Most licensed professional psychotherapists have spent a minimum of 5 years in college for an MA, and 8 or more for a PhD. So it is certainly understandable that most people assume that a licensed professional, with a training lasting over 50 times longer than a NLP Practitioner, would do a far better job helping people make personal changes.

So how do the skills of an NLP Practitioner actually compare with those of licensed professionals? I have been observing the skills of Practitioners in certification trainings for over 20 years now, so that gives me a pretty good baseline of understanding of their capabilities and weak areas, as well as the considerable range of skill / ability at certification.

Recently I have been viewing a number of videotapes of live client sessions with psychotherapists described as “leaders in the field” of brief therapy – all of whom have advanced degrees and many years of experience. All these therapists are licensed, and all of them have written prominent and widely well-regarded books about therapy. Their names appear regularly in both workshop brochures and on the roster of presenters at professional conferences.

What I have seen in these videotaped sessions has mostly ranged from irrelevant / incompetent to mildly harmful (with a few fine exceptions like Bill O’Hanlon, Michael Yapko, and Scott Miller).* And remember, the therapists on these videos are experienced “leaders in the field,” not newly-minted PhDs, and they also do not include people trained in the longer-term therapies, which are typically less effective, and certainly less efficient.

I would be willing to bet serious money that practitioners who have gone through a thorough NLP practitioner training do far more for their clients and for a LOT less time and money, than any similarly unselected group of recent graduates of any 5-8 year professional psychotherapist preparation program. The reason is simple; NLP Practitioners have a far better and more practical “toolbox” of methods for helping people change.

Risk of Harm

Now let’s respond to the second concern, the risk of doing harm to the client. I know of a number of specific examples of people who have been seriously harmed by both Licensed professionals and by NLP Practitioners, so the risk is real.

Firstly, if someone thinks that the NLP toolbox is less effective than that of licensed professionals, you can point out that the danger must also be proportionately less, since fewer skills means less ability to influence someone. Then you only have to deal with the ethics of charging people money for ineffective therapy.

Assuming that Practitioners have a more effective toolbox, how about the danger that this more powerful toolbox might pose in the hands of someone with little experience? More power to help someone change does not specify the direction or usefulness of change.

It is MUCH easier to help someone change in a way that is useful and congruent with their wishes and outcomes. It takes much greater skill (or bravado, or coercion) to overwhelm a person’s natural protective responses to unecological change. With appropriate frames, I believe that new Practitioners with minimal experience can significantly help a lot of people, while at the same time protecting clients from harm.

What are those frames?


  • A LOT of humility about how little they know, and how complex human beings are,
  • A GENTLENESS and caution about offering alternatives / interventions,
  • A HUGE respect for people’s objections and concerns, and an unwillingness to attempt to make any change until, and unless, these objections are fully satisfied.

These are frames which we have always built in to all our trainings, in every way we could think of, and over and over again. There are a number of NLP training programs that do not emphasize, or even mention, them, or that offer quite different frames. However, given these frames, I believe it is very hard to harm anyone. The vast majority of the harm that I have observed has resulted from ignoring them, and I have seen far more of this resulting from the work of professional licensed psychotherapists than I have from NLP Practitioners.

First published in Anchor Point, June 2000, Vol. 14, No. 6, pp. 26-27

*All three of these therapists have had extensive training in Solution-focused brief therapy, and Ericksonian Hypnosis, both of which teach many of the same skills that NLP does. Bill O’Hanlon has also had extensive training in NLP.

© 2000 Steve Andreas

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NLP Modal Operators

In the January, 2000 issue, I pointed out that the meta-model was the foundation and origin of NLP. All the many specific methods and techniques that have been developed over the last 25 years have evolved out of asking questions based on it, and it still remains a foundational understanding for the entire field. I also discussed the value of returning to old distinctions to reexamine them to see what more can be learned from them, and gave two examples, submodalities and aligning perceptual positions.

Finally, I posed a set of questions about modal operators, one of the distinctions in the meta-model, and invited readers to respond to them. I think it is curious (but perhaps not too surprising) that despite so many people teaching modeling, and claiming to be modelers, I got only two responses. And it is much easier to answer questions than it is to figure out what questions to ask!

Here again are the questions (in italics), and my answers (not the answers). Ultimately the answer is in your own experience. The words that follow are my best attempt to point to your experience, and offer ways to think about it, organize it, and expand it. This is what I can provide now, and I hope that you find it useful. I’m sure that that this can, and will be, improved on, and I welcome suggestions for additions, reformulations, etc.

Modal Operators (MO)s

1. What are they anyway? What do they do, and how do they work?

A MO is “mode of operating,” a way of being in the world and relating to part of it, or all of it. A MO is a verb that modifies another verb, so it is always followed by another verb. “I have to work.” “I can become successful.”

Since a verb always describes an activity or process, a MO is a verb that modifies how an activity is done. A MO functions in the same way that an adverb does, and perhaps they should be called adverbs. Adverbs sometimes precede, and sometimes follow, the verb that is modified, while MOs always precede it, and this is part of the power of a MO. It sets a general orientation or global direction that is usually largely independent of content and context that follows, and it does this before we know what the activity is. A MO modulates our experience of much (or all) of what we do in very important ways. Think of any small activity, and describe it in a brief phrase, such as “looking out the window.” Next say the following sentences to yourself, and become aware of your experience of each of them, noticing how your experience changes with each sentence, particularly where your attention is goes, and how you feel:

“I want to look out the window.”

“I have to look out the window.”

“I can look out the window.”

“I choose to look out the window.”

The “mode of operating” in the first is to be pulled toward the activity, with a sense of pleasure and anticipation. The “mode of operating” in the second is to be pushed toward it, usually from behind, and usually also with some sense of not wanting to do it. (Thanks to John McWhirter for pointing out this push / pull parameter of motivation.)

The last two are somewhat different; “Can” simply directs your attention to alternate avenues of possibility. In addition to “looking out the window,” other directions get my attention. “Choose” presupposes these alternatives, focusing more on the internal experience of selecting between those avenues of possibility.

2. How many kinds, or categories of MO are there, and what would you name each kind?

I would list the four categories below: (with examples).


The first two have to do with being motivated.

a. Necessity: “should,” “must,” “have to.”

b. Desire: “wish,” “want,” “need”


The second two have to do with options that can be chosen in order to satisfy the motivation.

c. Possibility: “can,” “able to,” “capable.”

d. Choice: “choose,” “select,” “decide.”

Desire and / or necessity motivates us to change, and possibility and / or choice makes it possible. MOs of necessity and (im)possibility are the ones given most emphasis in many NLP trainings, because very frequently they are the basis for significant limitations. People often feel stuck and trapped by “have tos,” and limited by “cant’s,” and these are the most obvious kinds of limiting beliefs that people have.

MOs of desire and choice are often de-emphasized, or even ignored, but they are equally important, and they are a mirror-image to necessity and impossibility. For instance. when someone experiences a “have to,” usually it is unpleasant, and s/he wants to have other choices. Put another way, “have to” and “not possible” are equivalent to “not possible to choose other more desired alternatives.”


Since choosing between alternative possibilities, in alignment with our needs and desires, is fundamental to our survival and happiness, any limitation or reduction in these abilities will significantly limit our ability to have a good life. Every belief in our capabilities will have a MO in it, and many limitations will have either a MO of necessity or a negation of another MO.

This is the kind of difference that MOs not only describe, but also create as we talk to ourselves internally. It can be the crucial difference between someone who lives a life feeling as if they are an incapable, helpless victim of events, and one who experiences a world full of anticipation and opportunities for satisfaction of needs and desires. Working at the level of MOs, and the beliefs that they are embedded in, is usually at a considerably larger chunk size than working at the content level of a particular limitation, and because of this, the changes that are made will generalize much more widely.


Each of these categories includes words that express various degrees of intensity – even though people often limit themselves by reducing this wide spectrum to a crude either/or digital distinction. In addition to the words used in each category, the nonverbal intonation can also indicate the degree of intensity, and is often much more significant than the words.

a. Necessity has a relatively narrow range of intensity, but there is a definite difference between “absolutely must” and “should,” or “ought to.” Since many people think they should do things that they seldom or never actually do, there are “necessities” that are less than absolute.

b. Desire has perhaps the widest range of intensity, ranging from a faint inclination to smoking lust!

c. Possibility is not a digital distinction (possible / impossible) as it is often taught, but can also vary through a wide range, from very likely (nearly certain) to very unlikely, (improbable, but still possible).

d. Choice, too, can be artificially reduced to a simple limiting either / or (and there are a few circumstances in which this is perhaps an accurate description of the situation). But usually there is a wide range of choices, a multiplicity of options, not only of what to do, but of how to do it, where to do it, when to do it, with whom to do it, and why to do it.

3. How are they linked to, or related to, each other?

(I have found two major ways, one inherent, and one that is optional.)

Inherent linkage:

Choice and necessity both presuppose possibility, but desire does not. It is ridiculous to say that a person can choose or must do something that is impossible. This inherent linkage can be quite useful. For instance, sometimes a person is tortured by thinking that they should do or choose something which is actually not possible for them – at least at the moment – but they don’t realize the logical contradiction.

To work with this situation, first you can pace the “should,” or the “choose” and even strengthen it. “So you really believe that you should do X.” Then establish in their experience that it is impossible for them to do X (at least at this time, in their present state of development, finances, etc.).

After doing this preparation, you can put the two together by asking, “How is it that you think that you should do X, when you know that it is impossible?” If the preparation was done thoroughly, this is one of those times when you can almost see smoke coming out of the client’s ears, as the two beliefs collide, the contradiction becomes apparent, and the “should” (and the problem) vanishes.

However, desire does not presuppose possibility; quite often we desire something that is not possible. This fact is the source of much human misery, since we can ardently desire something that is not possible. But this is also the source of human progress, as we are motivated to seek and discover ways to do what was previously not possible.

Optional linkage:

Some kinds of linkages are not inherent, but learned.

1. In the first of these, people simply combine MOs sequentially. “I have to choose,” is quite different from “I can choose,” (a bit redundant, since choosing presupposes possibility, but it does support the person’s sense of their capability.). People often say, “I want to be able to,” or “I need to choose,” or “I might have to,” but there are many other such combinations that very few people use, such as “I can choose to have to,” “I choose to not want,” and some of these are very empowering. Of course it is one thing to recoginize this kind of possibility, and quite another to access or create an experience of it, but recognition of the possibility is a very useful first step.

With four categories of MOs, and including their negations, there are 64 possibilities for these linkages (including the somewhat repetitive “choose to choose,” and “choose to not choose,” etc.) and it is useful to systematically write them all down, and experience what they are like. Some will seem familiar and “sensible,” but the ones that seem strange, or bizarre will be the ones you can learn the most from, because they stretch your map of what is possible – even if some of them are not particularly useful. This is a great way to sensitize yourself to the impact of how you and your clients are now linking MOs, and to experience the impact of the linkages that you seldom use, or never even consider using.

2. A second (and very similar) kind of linkage is to link two MOs sequentially, in an “if-then” cause-effect chain, such as “If I want to, I can.” or “If I have to, I won’t.” Knowing how a person typically links MOs gives you very valuable information about how their experience is limited, and what kind of situations will likely be troublesome. These linkages, like most generalizations, are often uncontextualized, and easily become rather global beliefs that are applied across a lot of different content and contexts.

Again, most people do not use certain linkages very often, and many of them can be very empowering. “If I choose to, I will,” “If I have to, I desire to.” “If I want to, I don’t have to.” Because these generalizations typically apply so widely in a person’s life, this kind of change can have a powerful and widespread impact on attitude and behavior.

Of course some of these linkages are much more useful than others, but if someone uses only a few choices out of 64, that is a pretty severe limitation in what is possible for them, and exploring additional possibilities can be very empowering.

Self / Other:

In the discussion above, we presupposed that the person applied the MOs to him / herself. If we add another person in relationship, we can get another 64 combinations, such as, “If you want me to, I have to,” or “If I demand, you should.” The applications for couple therapy (whether or not the other member of the couple is present) should be obvious.

Although linkages of two modal operators are most frequent, a linkage of three is not uncommon, and even more are possible. “If I have to, I can choose to want to.” Here there is an even greater variety of possibilities (256) and most of us only use a few of them. With more than one other person, as in families, it even becomes even more complicated – and interesting. “If he says I have to X, but she wants Y, I can’t do Z.” (another 256 possibilities here!). You don’t have to memorize all these possibilities; with recognition that these can be very important, and a little practice to sensitize your perceptions, you can simply recognize them, and try them on to realize how a particular sequence works.

4. What kind of motivation is indicated by each MO?

Necessity and desire are the clearest. Desire always pulls us toward the object of desire. Necessity apparently pushes us toward something, but more often it actually pushes us away from what will happen if we don’t do it. Of course, much motivation includes both these aspects, but it is useful to separate them in order to think about them. The MOs that a client uses can alert us to what they are noticing, and what they are deleting in their experience.

Possibility and choice do not indicate any particular motivation. One can choose possible activities out of either desire or necessity, or both. On the other hand, if we had no needs or desires, possibility and choice would be totally irrelevant, so there is always some motivation presupposed or implied when we think about possibility and choice.

5. How can each kind of MO be understood as indicating a specific kind of incongruence?

All the MOs express what might be called a counterfactual state of affairs. They all indicate a situation that does not (at the moment) exist, but that could exist in the future (or could not actually exist, but can nevertheless be imagined as happening in the future) so this is one form of sequential incongruence.

If you have to, it means that you haven’t yet. (If you had already done it. you wouldn’t have to.) Even in the past tense, “I had to” expresses the situation at the moment of having to, not the subsequent action. In a repetitive action that one has to do, like breathing, what one has to do is to take the next breath, not the previous one.

Likewise if you desire something, you don’t have it yet. (If you had it already, you could enjoy it, but not desire it.)

If something is possible, that means that it is potential, but not actual. Some of us used to joke about the “human potential movement,” that it was all potential, and very little movement (and some of it wasn’t very human, either!). “I can do it” is quite different from “I have done it.” Of course, having done something is a powerful basis for assuming that I can do it in the future – and this is why it can be so useful to install a change in the past, so that it is experienced as having already happened.

At the moment of choosing, the activity that is chosen has not yet happened. (Even choosing between things, rather than activities, implies some kind of activity in relation to them.) In choice there is always an additional incongruity in that we are drawn (or pushed) toward two or more alternatives. In choosing one, the one that is not chosen is lost, and whatever needs or desires this alternative might have satisfied have to go unsatisfied, at least temporarily.

6. What kind of incongruence is indicated by a person when they use one kind of MO verbally and express a different one nonverbally?

These indicate a simultaneous incongruence between the conscious (verbal) words and the unconscious (nonverbal). If a person says, “I can do that,” in a whining voice and slumped shoulders, it is pretty likely that they don’t actually believe it, and will not actually do it. As with all NLP work, the nonverbal is often a much better indicator of the unconscious aspects of behavior, and what is actually going on. As John Grinder used to say, “All words are to be taken as unsubstantiated rumor unless confirmed by nonverbal behavior.” The verbal MO may or may not be a reliable indicator of the actual MO being experienced. Being sensitive to the nonverbal indicators of the MO gives much more reliable information about the client’s experience.

There is a useful exercise we have used for years that sensitizes trainees to both verbal and nonverbal MOs. In groups of 3, one person says a sentence using one kind of MO (or its negation) verbally, while expressing a different kind of MO (or its negaition) nonverbally. One of the others in the trio identifies the verbal MO, and the other the nonverbal MO – and later each of the others identifies both.

7. How it can be useful to change a person’s experience by suggesting replacing one modal operator with another, and why is it useful?

A MO, like accessing cues, is both a result of internal processing, and also a way to elicit it. Asking a person to say, “I won’t” rather than “I can’t,” was one of Fritz Perls, favorite ways to get people to take more responsibility for the implicit choices that they made, and feel more empowered by recognizing their ability to choose.

Sometimes changing a MO brings about a congruent change in attitude immediately. More often a client will experience incongruence. But even then it can be a very useful experiment that offers at least a glimpse of an alternate way of living in the world. The client can try it out, and find out what it would be like if it were true for him / her. The objections that arise will provide valuable information about what other aspects of the person’s beliefs need some attention in order to make the change appropriate and lasting.

8. What MO is operating in an experience of complete and total congruence?

This is my favorite, and it is a trick question. Think of a situation in your life when you experienced total congruence about doing something. When you are totally congruent, it is POSSIBLE to, you WANT to, you CHOOSE to, and paradoxically, you also HAVE to, so the answer is all of them (or perhaps none of them). Or to put it another way, which has a rather mystic flavour, it is not a mode of operating, (which always indicates at least some bias and incongruence), it is just operating, pure and simple, unmodulated by a mode.

9. What else can you predict about a person’s experience when they use a MO?

I asked this open-ended question in the hope of learning something new. But with only two responses, I don’t have much to report. When education isn’t a two-way street, it’s likely to become a dead-end street. One of my favorite quotations recently is that: “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Given the presentation above, what else can you predict now?

First Published in Anchor Point, January 2001, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.19-26

© 2000 Steve Andreas

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Looking Backwards (at a few of the bends and dips in the road) by Steve Andreas

“I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day difficult.”
– E.B. White

From a very early age I have been blessed (and cursed) with a penchant for seeing what could be improved in the world. Usually unwilling to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” I have more often than not been willing to “take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them.”

In high school I was a “science brain,” what is now called a “nerd” on this side of the pond, and I went on to college at Caltech, studying chemistry in order to better humanity by unravelling the secrets of the genetic code – at that time something far beyond our reach, but now frighteningly close at hand. I have often been grateful for the rigorous foundation in the hard sciences and mathematics that I learned there.

One of these understandings is the philosophy of “radical empiricism” described by Karl Popper and Hans Vaihinger that is the basis of all the sciences. Briefly put, it is the understanding that there is no “truth,” or how things “really are,” only “useful lies,” descriptions of the world that are more or less useful to us most of the time. If we are clever enough, or lucky enough, we will discover understandings that fit with each other reasonably well for a while – until better, or more comprehensive, or more detailed, understandings are developed.

About halfway through college I began exploring psychology and literature as more promising ways to learn more about humanity. In 1958 I went to graduate school at Brandeis, where Abe Maslow had a little island of pseudo-sanity in the swamp of psychology. It is hard to remember what a wasteland the field was forty years ago. Essentially there was either behaviourism or Freud, and about the only thing they agreed upon was that if you loved someone, it was because they resembled your mother or father. At that time there were a few other pioneering voices besides Maslow crying out in the wilderness (Angyal, Barron, Frankl, Fromm, Kubie, Perls, Rogers, Satir, Schachtel). They are now dead and all but forgotten, but their legacy lives on in the wide variety of broader and more human approaches that are being explored and experimented with today.

After two years of graduate school, the only way I could avoid doing research on rats was to drop out. After a year working as a chemist, I taught psychology in Junior college for the next seven years – very badly at first, but over the years I learned a bit about teaching. While I was teaching, my mother, Barry Stevens, wrote Person to Person, adding her own unprofessional commentary to professional psychology papers that she thought were particularly interesting, by Carl Rogers and students of Rogers. After a number of rejections from publishers, I decided to publish the book myself in 1967, and Real People Press was born. I found myself with several thousand books in my garage, and a hobby job that eventually became my major source of support, as other books followed.

The next year I chanced upon the Gestalt Therapy work of Fritz Perls, whose willingness and ability to demonstrate change work blew my mind out of the water. Here was someone who could actually DO something, even if it had a bit much of the angry Buddhist! For the next ten years I spent most of my free time learning and practising his ways of utilizing live behaviour and all aspects of awareness – dreams and other unconscious communications, including non-verbal gestures, postures, voice tone, dialoguing between parts of a person, etc.

During this time I edited and published two Fritz Perls books, Gestalt Therapy Verbatim, and his autobiography, In and Out the Garbage Pail. Under my former name, John O. Stevens I wrote and published Awareness: exploring, experimenting, experiencing, a handbook of gestalt awareness exercises for individuals and groups (many of which were “road-tested” in my junior college psychology classes). Ten years ago, when I was asked to write a new forward to the British edition, I found it still as useful as when I had written it twenty years before. I would not delete anything; only add the presupposition of positive intention, a very important piece missing from the Gestalt model. Gestalt dialogues are often much longer and noisier than they need to be. Adding the presupposition of positive intent makes them a hundred times shorter, quieter and more useful – and saves a lot of pillows and furniture from unnecessary violence.

And then a friend introduced us to NLP in summer of 1977. Here was an approach that sounded outrageously unlikely, but that had many very specific, small-chunk predictions about observable behaviour and change that were easily tested – which my wife Connirae and I proceeded to do. I cancelled a scheduled Gestalt workshop tour of South America, and became a beginner again, happily stumbling along in unfamiliar, but very interesting territory.

At first it was a major challenge just to understand and become passably competent in what had already been developed by Bandler, Grinder, and the other early co-developers. It was some years before we began to explore new territory and develop some additional NLP patterns.

In the early 1980’s Connirae and I were introduced to the world of submodalities, and like small kids with a new hammer, we began to apply it to everything we could think of. Submodalities became both a tool for deeper and more detailed understanding of existing methods and distinctions, and also a basis for new modelling of other abilities, developing methods for helping people make useful changes that were not previously possible. Besides exploring the submodality structure of existing patterns, we explored the structure of time (discovering timelines), presuppositions, internal / external reference, and values/criteria, and used these understandings to develop ways of changing these processes.

About a dozen years ago we turned our attention to the experience of Grief, and modeled people who felt joyful and resourceful (not just “OK”) about a loving relationship that had ended in death or divorce, etc. We discovered that these people still had vivid associated representations of the lost person, so they continued to feel a glad sense of the presence of the person who was actually lost in the “real world.” Most of us experience the same thing when we are temporarily separated from someone we love. Even though the person is physically absent (and could have died in the interim) we continue to feel connected, because we still represent him/her as if s/he were physically present.

Understanding this made it relatively easy to teach this useful skill to others who were still stuck in feelings of emptiness, sadness, and despair. Only after the method was thoroughly tested did we realize that the same process could also be used for losses in the other four meta-program content sorting categories: things, activities, locations, and even information. And in fact these other categories are often overlooked aspects of the loss of a person. When a relationship ends, often things, activities, locations or information are also lost. Next we realized that a loss in the external world often entails a loss of the sense of self as well. Loss of a spouse often results in a loss of self as a lovable person, and loss of a job may take a heavy toll on a person’s self-worth. Although the same process works on both kinds of loss, it is respectful to realize and acknowledge the self dimension of a loss.

Later still, we found that the same process can be used with the loss of a dream – something that the person never actually had, except in their vivid imagination, perhaps for decades. This loss of a dream is often a major aspect of an actual loss. Someone who loses a child also loses their dream of the child’s future growing up and maturing, etc.

This loss of a dream is at the core of what is often called a “mid-life” crisis, and the same process can also be used for this form of grief. What began as a search for a solution for a particular problem became a process with much wider applications, as well as a demonstration of the interrelatedness of many different distinctions that had already been made in the field.

About ten years ago we focused on anger and forgiveness in an advanced modelling seminar, and we and the participants together developed a pattern for helping people stuck in anger, resentment and desire for revenge.

We found a way for people to move forward into an experience of congruent forgiveness that is consistent with taking positive action to maintain and support the values that were violated in the experience that led to anger.

After developing this process, we realized that the few failures that we had experienced when using the grief process had resulted from unresolved anger and resentment toward the lost person, pointing out yet another interrelatedness.

Connirae’s development of the process grew slowly out of her work with clients with whom the existing patterns were not very effective. One vital element in this process is to use the chunking-up of a part’s behaviour to outcome that is the essence of six-step reframing. However, rather than experience this meta-outcome as a dissociated outcome of a separate part, this process has the person identify with, associate into, and fully experience the meta-outcome as if they were the part and had already gotten the outcome. Core Transformation also continues the chunking-up process to yet higher levels of generality until it becomes a universal feeling embracing the whole world of experience – a felt sense of universal “oneness,” “beingness,” “love;” a “core state” that connects with, and is a part of, and in harmony with, all creation.

Growing up a part of the person, so that it makes use of all the person’s knowledge, maturity and personal history, and allowing the part to become whole-body are integrative processes that support the new experience of wholeness by extending the core state in both time and space. Parental Timeline reimprinting instils this core state throughout the person’s representation of his / her personal history, as well as in the personal history of the parents, further supporting the universal experience of the core state by spreading it through time even more.

Direct access to these universal core states becomes a profound avenue of change at the broadest level of generalization. We have known for a long time that a single “conversion” experience can change much of a person’s behavior at once. Now it is possible to do so quickly and efficiently, without religious doctrine, and congruent with all of the person’s values, aspects and potential.

During this same time, Connirae re-examined the three basic perceptual positions “self,” “observer,” and “other,” because she noticed that people kept having experiences that didn’t fit these three simple categories. By chunking down to the smaller elements, she discovered that people often mixed together elements of the three positions. This results in confusion, inability to fully utilize each position, and in people making life choices that have unpleasant consequences. By teaching someone how to separate these different elements and then how to rearrange them by location, they can experience each position fully, uncontaminated by elements of the other two positions, and gain useful understandings and perspectives that had not been available to them before this aligning process. Once the positions are sorted in this way, each one informs and enriches the others, but without interfering with each other.

In hindsight, what Connirae did was to chunk down the perceptual positions into their smaller elements, and use the single submodality of location to sort these elements and put them where they belong. However, that understanding only emerged after a long process of exploration and trial and error. Things always appear so much simpler and obvious when looking backward. “Oh, Of course!”

Over and over again we have found the usefulness of this process of reexamining older patterns and understandings and “researching” deeper into the finer structure of them, using newer understandings to explore them more thoroughly and characterize them in more useful ways.

In the mid-1980’s we developed a simple way to create a piece of self-concept when the person simply did not have a useful way to generalize about a category of their own behaviour. We recognized clearly at the time that if the person already had a negative self-concept about the same class of behaviours, creating a new structure would either be very difficult, or plunge the person into conflict. Nevertheless, what we had developed worked very nicely, as long as the person did not already have a negative belief about themselves.

In recent years I have returned to explore the overall functioning of self-concept (and the much simpler and much misunderstood “self-esteem”) and modelled the entire process that people use to generalize about themselves. Since the self-concept is a “through time” recursive process that describes itself, and is also at a high level of generalization, changes in it are particularly pervasive and powerful. Rather than just adding to the self-concept by using a specific step-by-step pattern, this resulted in much broader and deeper understandings, out of which specific applications can be easily be developed as needed. A number of very interesting discoveries emerged from this modelling.

One discovery was that there are several processes that do two things simultaneously: They make the self-concept more durable and resilient, and 2. They make it more open and responsive to ongoing feedback and correction when behaviour does not match the self-concept. I had expected that there would probably have to be two processes in balance – one to provide durability, and another to make it open to corrective feedback. I cannot tell you how pleased I was to discover that my expectations were wrong, and that the same processes have dual functions that accomplish both objectives simultaneously.

One of these processes (which was very surprising to me) is the value of including counterexamples in the self-concept database. Rather than weakening the self-concept, appropriately represented counterexamples actually make it stronger, like the effect of impurities that make steel much stronger than pure iron. These same counterexamples also function as templates that sensitize us to the kind of mistakes that we have made in the past, making it more likely that we will notice if we repeat mistakes in the future. This is just one example of the dual nature of these mechanisms that simultaneously make the self-concept stronger and at the same time more open to corrective feedback.

A serendipitous discovery that emerged from this is an understanding of the basic self-concept structure of “projection” and its more severe form, paranoia, a process that was recognized a hundred years ago, but without a satisfactory understanding of how it worked, or how to change it.

Another valuable understanding that emerged from these investigations, is the fundamental structure of what has been called “ego” or “self-importance.” Self-conscious preoccupation separates us both from others and from aspects of our own experience, and this results in defensiveness and being closed to feedback and useful change. Again this is something that has been recognized for thousands of years, particularly by spiritual traditions. But with the new understanding of how it works, it becomes possible to work with it directly and change it quickly. Unfortunately, the people who most need this kind of change are the least likely to want it or seek it out; usually a spouse, or someone else, comes in because they are suffering from its consequences.

More recently I have returned to the Grief and Forgiveness patterns because they have such wide application to the inescapable problems of everyday living. All of us experience losses (of both world and self), and frustration of our outcomes and values on a daily basis. The value of learning to deal with losses, and forgiving those who have harmed us, is something that has been a major concern of many spiritual traditions, and one that has been exemplified by many saints and sages over thousands of years. Because of this, I have called this area of exploration “practical spirituality.” Learning how to deal with these inevitable events easily and graciously, as a through-time capability of the self, seems to me to be a goal well worth pursuing, even for an atheist or agnostic like myself.

Judgement of our experience as being “good” or ‘bad” is another element that has been a basic concern of many spiritual traditions. (In English, there is another quite different use of the word judgement that simply means “understanding,” or “good sense,” as in “She has good judgement”) Generally speaking, mystics have advised against judgement, while the religions that followed have usually been very judgemental. Judging our experiences (and ourselves) as being “good” or “bad” (in contrast to simply noticing our response of liking or disliking, etc.) takes us to a meta-level, adding another layer of complexity that makes it harder, rather than easier, to find solutions.

It is one thing to notice that we don’t like something, but judging it draws our attention from the problem itself to its goodness or badness, separating us from our experience, and creating a very information-poor context in which to attempt to solve problems. Judgement is the first step down a road that is paved with intolerance and rejection, and its ultimate destination is violence and killing. Look around you; wherever you find violence and killing, there you will also find judgement.

Preference is a useful counterexample to judgement, because preferring also expresses our values, but in a much more useful way. Unlike the absolute, universal, digital generalization of judgement, a preference is a sensory distinction made by a specific individual in a specific state and context, time frame, etc., making it rich with information that can be used to find solutions. In a recent modelling seminar I guided the participants in characterizing the differences between judgement and preference and in designing a transition from judgement to preference. I invite the interested reader to explore this area for yourself, to find out what you can discover on your own.

Sometimes I am asked to speculate on the next developments in the field, but that would be as foolish as trying to predict such things as optical fibre communication or the Internet. Instead, I would like to point out what I believe are a few of the potentially valuable areas to model (and where, and when I find the time, you will find me toiling in the hot sun). There are still plenty of things that NLP cannot accomplish, or Cannot accomplish efficiently, despite the hyperbole of the ads and brochures (some of which I have been personally responsible for). Look around and you will see plenty of problems crying for solution. And lest I be accused of being “problem-oriented,” there are also plenty of models of excellence who could be studied so that their useful skills could be taught to others.

Depression and manic-depression is a promising area. Some years ago (in a fit of optimism about having a block of spare time) I saw several clients, one of whom is no longer manic-depressive (and she was certified, had been on lithium for years, etc.). I learned a lot about the structure of very high expectations of self and universal generalizations, and how it can be easy to flip from “Everything is great” to “Everything is terrible” (both judgements), but I did not get enough data to formulate a specific pattern that I could begin to test. There are plenty of other “mental illnesses” that we have no effective way of helping as yet.

Complaining is another activity that, like judgement, impoverishes our experience and adds another layer of complication to our troubles, distracting our attention from the task at hand to “the injustice of it all!” An attitude of gratitude for what we have been given is certainly a lot more enjoyable! And with this frame, we can more easily focus our attention and energy on how to make something better. So gratitude is yet another useful piece in the puzzle, and one that has also had an honoured place in a wide variety of ancient spiritual traditions, particularly the mystic ones. What is the structure of this resourceful experience of grateful thanks for what one has been given?

Most NLP patterns presuppose that a client comes in and asks for help. Of course many people don’t know what they need, but at least they come in with a description of a problem and ask for something. But there are many problems, like depression, abuse, and other “powerless” conditions that usually include the assumption that “Nothing will do any good, so why try?” We need to find ways to reach out to people with this presupposition of hopelessness, because many could be helped with methods that already exist.

There are many other situations in which a person does not perceive what they do as a problem, but others around them do. I have never yet had a client say, “I’d like some help with my arrogance; I’m really obnoxious, and I’d like to learn how to relate better with others,” but I have seen plenty of people who could use that kind of help, and some of them have been well-known NLP trainers! Virginia Satir showed some ways of working with people who act in an arrogant or superior manner, and blame others for problems, but that is not one of the skills that the original developers were successful in modelling from her. Superiority and blaming are two promising areas for future modelling, because, like judgement, they occur as a complicating and distracting overlay to a wide range of problems.

I have seen very little written on the patterns of implication, despite the fact that this was one of Milton Erickson’s main covert patterns. Implications are weaker than presuppositions, but they are also much subtler, and much less likely to be noticed and challenged.

I think that we have only scratched the surface in developing NLP applications to learning and education, and my guess is that successful and deep application in this area would probably require a wholesale dismantling of our current western educational system.

What would I put in its place? Probably a system with two parts. The first and more basic part would teach children about themselves and about communicating with others, about the destructive consequences of our tendency to compare ourselves with others and then act in superior, judgemental., or scornful ways, etc. Part of this would include discovering how to “immunize” kids mentally with certain presuppositions, thinking skills, appreciation of diversity, maintenance of resource feeling states, etc., so that they would be forever safe from the variety of individual and social madnesses that now repeatedly ravage both the neighbourhood and the globe.

In addition, there would be lots of exposure to the full range of human excellence that all cultures all over the world have accumulated over the centuries – all the arts and sciences (very loosely defined), and all other expressions of our diverse humanity. This would be provided to nurture kids’ natural sensitivity, curiosity and inventiveness, a non-verbal message of the wide range of possible human expression. Finally, an enormous learning facility full of resources would nurture children’s curiosity, with guides to teach kids how to find the resources that they need in order to learn whatever it is that interests them.

Like any field, NLP is growing by fits and starts, sometimes exploring blind alleys, and at other times stumbling out of the wilderness into a wide expanse of understanding. Some new developments are like “cold fusion,” which burst into the limelight, promising much and delivering little, while other less flashy but more substantial developments linger in the shadows, waiting for recognition.

Much of the development of any field is taking a small part of it and simply documenting it in greater detail, as a zoologist might spend years describing and categorizing all the molluscs on the bed of a small estuary. No one has yet listed all the ways that a person can have a phobia. Some people make the threat very large, while others make themselves very small – and some do both! Others do it by stopping all motion, resulting in a very unpleasant “freeze-frame.” Some run a very short movie over and over again in an endless loop. Who knows what new understandings might emerge from such a list? Of course, perhaps no new understanding might emerge. That is the way with research; if you knew ahead of time what you would find, there would be no need to do it!

As in any field, some are perceived as leaders and others as followers (whether or not either deserve it). Some take credit for the work of others, while other hard workers get little or none. Some in the field are motivated by success, or money, or the thrill of manipulating others, while others are just intensely curious, or want to serve the human enterprise.

The field of NLP is substantial enough that there is now a significant danger that we will blindly accept without question the presuppositions, metaphors, and understandings of those who have participated in the earlier development of the field. I have done this myself, and seen many other examples in intelligent people. Typically these errors could have been avoided by a simple testing in our own experience. However, it is much easier to find answers than it is to learn how to ask useful questions – and it is so much easier to just take someone else’s word for it! Someone once spoke about being able to see farther because he was standing on the shoulders of giants. But it is also possible to see less because one is standing in the giant’s footprints!

Every artist’s work is enriched by all the other styles and techniques that have already been developed, even if s/he dislikes some (or even most) of it. This variety does not necessarily produce masterpieces, but it does widen the range of possible resources from which we can choose, and may suggest additional possibilities not yet tried. All of us are enriched by the work of all the rest, and the possibilities that they find – even when it only suggests clearly what we do not want to do. I have learned so much from so many; it pleases me greatly to think that, in some small measure, I can return the favor.

As one of my favourite sayings goes: “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

First Published in Rapport the UK newsletter of the Association for NLP Summer 2000

© 2000 Steve Andreas

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Certainty and Uncertainty by Steve Andreas

The following is a very interesting exchange between Richard Bandler and someone who is very sure about something.

B: Are you sure?

P: Yes.

B: Are you sure you’re sure?

P: Yes.

B: Are you sure enough to be UNSURE?

P: Yes.

B: OK, Let’s talk.

A Journey Through Logical Levels

Before reading further, I strongly recommend that you think of something that you are very certain about, and find someone else to ask you this set of questions about your certainty, so that you have a concrete personal experience of their impact. At the very least, close your eyes and imagine that someone else asks you these questions, and take the time to carefully notice your response to each one, so that you can experience their effect on you.

And for those of you who teach modelling, or do modelling, this is an excellent small opportunity to do some of it. Although Bandler’s exchange is brief, and concise, it is quite interesting to explore its structure.

Now that you have an experience of it, I would like to characterize this pattern as I understand it, which requires a short journey up through logical levels.

Level 1

There is a situation X. X is an event in more or less sensory-based, “reality,” what Paul Watzlawick has called “first-order reality.” This is something that everyone can usually pretty much agree on, such as a job interview, or a critical comment. This level is often called the environment, and it is something that often we don’t have too much control over. Certain unpleasant events happen to us from time to time, and we don’t always have the choice of avoiding them or ignoring them.

Level 2

The person then thinks about the situation X in a particular way and characterizes / evaluates it, for instance, “This X is scary.” This is a meta-response, and the state is a meta-state about X. This is what Paul Watzlawick has called “second-order reality.” This is where people may differ wildly, particularly if they are from different cultures, and it is at this level where many conflicts and problems (and many solutions) exist.

The person could just as well conclude that X is “boring” or “exciting,” or “challenging,” or is an opportunity to “learn more about their Buddha nature,” etc. The person’s response will depend on the understanding that they apply to the event, and changing this understanding through content reframing can make a huge difference in the person’s experience.

Level 3

The person has a degree of certainty about the meta-response. “I know this is scary.” This is a meta-response about a meta-response (a meta-meta-response, with corresponding meta-meta-state). We could call this “third-order reality,” which is even more distant from sensory experience than second-order reality, and even more troublesome and dangerous. Plenty of problems (and solutions) also occur at this level.

Many people who come for therapy appear to suffer from uncertainty: “I don’t know what to do”. “I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do”. “Life has no meaning”. But you can also think of this as resulting from other certainties. “I know that wouldn’t work”, “I know she hates me”, “I know I can’t succeed”, etc. Since these certainties will make it difficult for the person to consider other understandings at level 2, it can often be very useful to reduce certainty.

Someone who is phobic of airplanes, and someone who is not, may be making exactly the same images of flaming death and destruction. The difference is that the images of the non-phobic include some representation of the small probability of the crash, as well as its possibility. This could be either a certainty of its unlikeliness, or a very great uncertainty about its happening. However, a phobic person is experientially certain that it will happen, no matter what s/he says intellectually.

What makes it difficult to work with a paranoid is not just that s/he thinks that others are plotting against him/her, but that s/he is certain that this is occuring, and is unwilling to question it and consider other possibilities. Another aspect of a person’s certainty is that others may suffer from it as much or more than the person who is certain. Think of all the deaths, persecutions, misery and destruction around the globe that have resulted from the certainty of religious prophets and institutions, revolutionaries, and politicians – all of whom are totally convinced that they were right.

Each of us has a way to assess experience and provide us with a measure of how certain we are about it. This has often been called a person’s “convincer strategy”. The exploration of the variety of ways that people use to convince themselves of something is also relevant to the topic of certainty, but this article will only discuss the result of the operation of the convincer strategy.

Every evaluation that someone makes at level 2 has some degree of certainty/uncertainty about it at level 3, and this will be on a continuum from zero certainty to absolute certainty. There are basically three possibilities:

A. Zero certainty

If a person has zero certainty, they have no firm conclusion whatsoever about the meaning of X, so they are completely open to considering new understandings when they are offered, and they will be very easy to work with in exploring other ways of thinking about the situation X. This is an “easy client,” because their understanding of a situation is very fluid, and they have no, or very little, certainty about their understanding to lock in the understanding, and make it hard to change.

B. Partial certainty

If someone is somewhere in the mid-range of certainty, they are at least somewhat open to considering other possible understandings (on level 2) of a situation X (on level 1). If they are very certain, it will be harder for them to consider other understandings, but at least it will be possible. These clients are somewhat harder to work with than those with zero or very little certainty, and those who are more certain will be harder to work with than those who are less certain.

C. Absolute certainty

If a person is totally certain about their understanding, they will be closed to even considering other understandings, because their certainty about their understanding locks up the ability to consider alternatives. These are the really tough clients, and this is the situation where Bandler’s pattern is particularly useful–to move someone from the absolute certainty (which has only one representation) to the partial certainty (with more than one representation) in which a dialogue is possible. (I think it is very significant in this regard that at the end of the exchange, Bandler says “OK, Let’s talk.”) In other words, this pattern is not useful to solve a problem, it is useful to make it possible to solve a problem on level 2 by decreasing certainty on level 3.

Understanding the pattern

To understand how the pattern works, we will need to enter the realm of paradox, which is very difficult for most of us to think about. (It was also hard for Bertrand Russell and Gottlob Frege, two very brilliant professional logicians to think about, so there is no shame in this, but the faint of heart may wish to consider turning to simpler recreations.)

“Are you sure?” asks if a person is in state of certainty. This is a question that asks for a digital yes or no answer, but permits answers which are qualified in some way.

If the person says, “No, not really,” then they are uncertain (A) and are already open to other understandings.

If they respond, “Well, I’m pretty sure,” they are somewhere in the intermediate range of partial certainty (B) and will be at least somewhat open to considering other understandings.

If they simply respond “Yes,” we need more information. (As usual the nonverbal messages in voice tone, posture, hesitations, etc. will be much more useful than the words in assessing the actual degree of certainty the person is experiencing.)

“Are you sure you’re sure?” applies certainty to itself recursively, in essence asking if the person is absolutely sure. Answering this question requires the person to go to a 4th level, applying certainty to itself. Again this is a question that asks for a digital yes or no answer, but permits a qualified answer.

If the person says. “Well, I’m pretty sure,” or qualifies it in any way, then the person is somewhere in the mid-range (B), and can already be talked with usefully.

If the person replies with an unqualified “Yes,” they are saying that they are absolutely certain (C). (Again, the nonverbals will tell you more about the absoluteness of the certainty than the words.)

This condition of absoluteness (or near absoluteness) is required for the next step of the pattern to work. However, if the condition of absoluteness is not met, it means that the next step is unecessary, because in a condition of partial certainty (B) you can proceed to usefully explore alternative understandings.

A very important aspect of this question is that it asks the person to recursively apply their certainty to itself. This requires the person to go to a fourth logical level, and this is something which is also necessary for the next step in the pattern. A “Yes” answer is a confirmation that the person is willing and able to do this recursion or “apply to self,” as it is usually called in the “sleight of mouth” patterns. Recursion is a precondition for the next question, which also asks the person to apply certainty to itself, but in a different way.

Another way of describing this is that the first two questions can be used both to gather information about the client’s degree of certainty, while at the same time beginning to assemble pieces of a puzzle which will be put all together in the third step.

“Are you sure enough to be UNSURE?” applies certainty to its negation, and is a form of logical paradox, equivalent to the statement “This sentence is false (not true),” or “I am a liar (not truth-telling).” (The word paradox can also used in a more general way to mean contradictory or unexpected, but the meaning here is restricted to logical paradox.)

Three Essential Ingredients

The three essential ingredients of a logical paradox are:

  1. An absolute statement,
  2. Recursion,
  3. Negation.

In paradox, an absolute statement is recursively applied to its own negation, bridging two logical levels. If the statement is true, then it is false, and if it is false, then it is true. This perpetual oscillation between truth and falsity challenges all our ideas about certainty and reality, and this is at least one reason why we find it so difficult to think about paradox.

There are two more very important elements in the word “enough.” “Enough” presupposes some point on a continuum, while the person has been using an absolute either/or (sure/unsure) distinction with no middle ground. No matter how the person answers, if they accept this presupposition, they are agreeing to a frame in which certainty is on an analog continuum rather than an absolute, digital either/or, and consequently other alternative understandings can be considered. Unless they challenge this presupposition, either answer to this question moves them to an experience of partial uncertainty.

There is yet another important element in the word “enough”. It presupposes reaching a threshold, in this case a threshold of certainty. If the person replies “No”, they are saying that their certainty is something less than the threshold. If they reply “Yes”, they are saying that their certainty has reached (or exceeded) the threshold, and is “enough” to be uncertain.

Are you sure enough to be unsure? is the question form of the statement, “If you are sure enough, you will be unsure”, and this is presupposed when asked as a question. This presupposition states that great certainty includes within it the ability to be unsure, taking two experiences that have been experienced as polar opposites, and nesting one within the other.

I have already mentioned that it is very difficult for most of us to process logical paradoxes. When we hear this paradox, stated as a question, (with the “enough” presuppositions packed inside it), most people simply give up and respond yes or no.

If a person answers “Yes,” they are agreeing to a state of unsureness (the “unsure”), and if they answer “No,” they are also agreeing to a state of unsureness “not sure enough.” Whichever response is given, they are agreeing to a degree of uncertainty, and consequently the willingness to consider alternative understandings.

This pattern has the same form as a paradoxical challenge that the devil supposedly once offered to God in regard to God’s omnipotence. The devil challenged God to create a rock so large that even God could not move it. If God cannot create a very large rock that he cannot move, he is not omniptent in his ability to create rocks, and if he does create such a rock, he is not omnipotent in his ability to move rocks. Either way the absoluteness of God’s omnipotence is destroyed.

To summarize, this pattern is very useful in situations in which a person is very certain about how they understand something, this understanding causes them difficulty, and their certainty results in their being not willing to even consider alternative understandings. Using this pattern can open them to considering other models of the world.

Learning how to sort out levels of experience in this way is a very useful skill that can help us understand the structure of problems, and decide which level of understanding could use some improvement. This makes it much easier to find our way through the twisting corridors of another person’s mind, in order to help them find their way out of their predicaments–and also keeps us from wasting our time solving problems that they don’t have!

Confusion about levels of thinking, the recursion which transcends levels, and particularly recursion that includes negation, are present in many human problems. It is a little-explored realm, and one that often creates paradoxical traps for us. Knowing the three essential elements of paradox (absolute statement, recursion, and negation) can help us identify these traps, and avoid them.

We can’t avoid logical levels, or recursion, and we wouldn’t want to–that would keep us from thinking about thinking, and having feelings about feelings, thinking about feelings, and many other valuable and unique aspects of our humanity.

But we can learn to use positive statements whenever possible, rather than negations, and learn to be very careful when we do use negation.The NLP emphasis on positive outcomes is one example of the value of this, and the benefits that can result from this kind of care in thinking.

And we can be doubly careful when recursion is also present, which is much more often than we usually think. To give only one example, when someone says, “I am a bad person”, they are saying that everything that they do is bad, and one of their behaviors is the sentence that s/he just said to you, so “badness” applies to the sentence about badness.

And finally, we can also learn to be very cautious about making absolute statements, realizing that all knowledge is relative, contextual, and based on our very limited experience and understanding. Paradoxically, that is one thing we can be very certain about!

I think it is truly amazing that with the three pounds of jelly between our ears we can imagine and think about an infinite universe, but it would be useful to have a little humility all the same.Let’s start with some humility about our knowledge and certainty.

In case the reader at this point is still insistent that there is such a thing as absolute certainty, I offer the following quote from Warren S. McCulloch’s 1945 article “Why the Mind is in the Head”, now included in his marvelous book Embodiments of Mind, MIT Press, 1965. McCulloch was one of the first and the best to apply mathematical analysis to the functioning of the nervous system.

“Accordingly to increase certainty, every hypothesis should be of minimum logical, or a priori, probability, so that if it be confirmed in experiment, then it shall be because the world is so constructed. Unfortunately for those who quest absolute certainty, a hypothesis of zero logical probability is a contradiction, and hence can never be confirmed. Its neurological equivalent would be a neuron that required infinite coincidence to trip it. This, in a finite world, is the same as though it had no afferents. It never fires”.

First published in AnchorPoint, October, 2000, Vol. 14, No. 10, pp. 3-8

© 2000 Steve Andreas

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A Brief History of NLP Timelines

NLP Timelines has become an integral model within NLP. In this article Steve Andreas describes how he and his partner Connirae Andreas developed a NLP Timeline model based on their exploration of the application of Submodalities. – Chris Collingwood.

The Evolution of a Pattern

Seminar participants often ask how a particular NLP pattern evolves. Indeed, if we can track how new patterns evolve, we can help point the way to further useful discoveries and developments.

Every pattern has many antecedents, and most patterns continue to be developed and refined after the first successes.

Philosophers have thought about time for millennia, even before Heraclitus said, “You can’t step in the same river twice”, some two thousand years ago. More recently, Peter McKeller’s book ‘Imagination and Thinking’ (1957) included detailed illustrations of some of the different ways that people represent the flow of time as various kinds of lines or paths in space.

People have recognized for centuries that different people tend to be more oriented toward past, present, or future. Edward T. Hall’s book, ‘The Silent Language’ (1959) includes abundant examples – both individual and cultural – but without a hint of why these differences exist.

In the early 1980’s NLP training included the categories of “in time” and ‘through time” as aspects of a person’s relatively fixed “meta-programming” – again with no explanations of the underlying experiential structure.

The Power of Sub-modalities

The concept of submodalities had been part of NLP since the late 1970’s, but they were presented primarily as a way of enhancing experiences. Although association / dissociation was the key element in many of the more effective standard NLP patterns that had been taught for years, it was not clearly described as a submodality shift. It was only in 1983 that Richard Bandler explicitly began to reveal the structure of submodalities in general. He taught how submodality shifts could be used to change habits (swish pattern), change beliefs, and create motivation or understanding, and how submodality thresholds could be used to break locked-in patterns like compulsions, or to lock in new changes. In short, he outlined how submodalities comprise one way of understanding the underlying structure of all experience.

We were so impressed with the power and generativity of this approach that we immediately began to ask ourselves, “What else is there that we don’t yet know about”? We were convinced that submodalities had more potential than previously recognized in the field. We asked ourselves, “What would happen if we investigated the submodality structure of Meta-Program sorts? What about finding the underlying structure of time, and of being past, present, or future oriented.

Innovative Thinking

One way innovations occur is by taking two or more separate paradigms, putting them together, and finding out what emerges. That’s what we did with meta-programs and submodalities. This thinking led to the Criteria Shift pattern, and changing internal and external reference, as well as timeline work.

Putting “time orientation” with submodalities had far more potential than we guessed in advance. We discovered that different people had widely differing timelines, and that the shape of the timeline in space not only determined whether a person was ‘in time’ or ‘through time’, past, present, or future oriented, but determined many other aspects of personality as well.

We found that by changing this spatial representation of events in time, we could make profound and very pervasive and generative changes in personality and orientation – without changing the individual events located on the timeline. We combined the patterns we had learned from Richard with these additional ones we’d discovered to form the first Advanced Submodalities Training in March, 1984.

In many NLP patterns, we had noticed that location is a very powerful “driving” submodality; it is significant in timeline work, criteria change work, and belief change work, and in aligning perceptual positions. It was Robert Dilts who recently offered us an interesting way to understand this. He pointed out that all three major representational systems overlap; in location. Colour, for example, is only in the visual system, pitch is only in the auditory system, and temperature is only in the kinaesthetic. However, all sights, sounds, and feelings have some location in space. Changing the location of a representation is often more powerful because it changes all systems simultaneously. This is the basis for the powerful impact of changing the location of one’s perspective in association / dissociation, and its detailed refinement in physically aligning the three perceptual positions; Self, Observer, and Other.

At the June 1985 NANLP conference in Denver, Colorado, Steve made a three-hour presentation on timelines, entitled “Just in Time”. Among the participants were Wyatt Woodsmall, and Leslie Cameron-Bandler, who commented at the time on the usefulness of this new approach.

In his VAK interview (Fall 1991) Tad James comments, “I learned about time line from Wyatt (Woodsmall)”. When Steve first met Tad in October 1986, we had been teaching about timelines in public seminars for 2 1/2 years. At that time, Tad described to Steve his work with selecting individual traumatic experiences on the timeline, and reorienting the person on their existing timeline in regard to those experiences in order to change the person’s response to them.

NLP Timelines in a Nutshell

Often people speak of NLP timeline work as if it is one thing. However there are two very major types of timeline work, both very useful. One set of methods has to do primarily with utilizing the existing timeline. The method described above is one example. You can change a traumatic memory on the timeline by reorienting in time, or by adding in resources, etc. The “decision destroyer”, developed a few years later by Richard Bandler is another very impactful approach. These methods have in common that you don’t need to know very much about the person’s existing timeline to use them with full effectiveness.

An entirely different category of timeline work has to do with changing the structure of the Timeline itself. In doing this kind of work, you find out in detail how a client’s timeline is now structured, what he wants to have different in his life, and then reorient the timeline so as to support the kind of person he wants to be. When the structure of the timeline itself is changed, the person literally lives in a new relationship to all his experiences in time – not just the traumatic ones, or the resourceful ones, but all of them.

For instance, most people have their timeline arranged so that the future is somewhere in the same quadrant as visual construct. This allows us to creatively construct alternative futures that are rich with possibility. However, some people see their future in the visual remembered quadrant. One typical result of this is that their future representations are relatively specific and fixed, because they have to use remembered imagery to represent the future. This can result in much disappointment, since future reality seldom conforms to the inflexible and constrained expectations of visual memory.

If the past accumulation of disappointment is resolved, the person will feel better in the present, but will continue to experience that the future is rigidly fixed, because they are still seeing it in their visual memory quadrant. One man who had this kind of arrangement commented, “This makes perfect sense: “change history” was always really easy for me, but it never made my future different because that was still fixed”.

Resolving past problems is no guarantee that they won’t recur in the future. However, if the future timeline is changed to the visual construct quadrant, the person will begin to make future images that are more creative and variable, and more responsive to changes in the world around them, resulting in far more generative possibilities and far less disappointment.

Although it is quite easy to change a person’s timeline, it takes some experience to know what kinds of changes might be most worthwhile to try out, and any changes need to be tried out very tentatively, with full attention to ecology. Changing a timeline is literally reorganizing all a person’s life experiences, so it must be done with extreme care and sensitivity to be sure the resulting changes will be generative. For some examples of how to elicit an change Timelines, see our books, ‘Heart of the Mind’, ‘Change Your Mind and Keep the Change’, and Connirae’s new videotape ‘Changing Timelines’ (1992).

First Published in the VAK International NLP Newsletter Vol 10, No 1. Winter 1991-1992

© 2000 Steve and Connirae Andreas

Elicitation and multiple application of Timelines is included in the syllabus of our postgraduate qualification in NLP – 10970NAT Graduate Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

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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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