Apr 26, 2015

Introduction To NLP, It's Therapeutic Models & The 5 Minute Phobia Cure (With A Talk By Richard Bandler)

What is NLP

More video OverviewsRichard Bandler - YouTube 


One of the methods that can help with education, training, coaching, business and stress management is called NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Developed by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. 

NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming which is a fancy way of saying 'what words and methods you should use in helping people deal with psychological challenges'. Essentially NLP consists of 2 separate models of how to use language when doing psychotherapy - then the tools were taken and applied to advertising, sales and even education! Why? Because NLP explains the structure of language and with it provides tools with which we can focus our minds on perspectives that are useful. 

A Short History of NLP

NLP was developed by studying the extremely effective therapeutic techniques of 3 successful therapists. Which led to the development of 2 separate ‘models of the mind’ that combined together to form the methods of NLP.

Richard Bandler and John Grinder began by  studying Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir and based on their observations of how they were able to help people they developed a model of therapy called “The Meta Model”, first published in their book "The Structure of Magic Volume 1" (which is a book about linguistics not magic).

The other model is called “The Milton Model” which was developed by observing the therapeutic style of hypnotherapist Milton Erickson. This was first published in the book “The Hypnotic Techniques of Milton Erikson”.

The presuppositions of NLP were compiled by observing how these 3 therapists were effective and what they assumed about clients when helping them.

Learning and applying the techniques of NLP have helped more people with higher success rates than any other field of psychotherapy. Strangely enough very few of NLP’s techniques are taught in psychology courses (instead focusing on theories rather than actual methods that work to get a patient from point A to point B). However, NLP is used extensively in media and advertising.

[Note: NLP includes the field of modern hypnosis which has an extremely large success rate in helping with common psychological challenges – such as phobia cures – than regular psychotherapy.]

Presuppositions of NLP

1. The map is not the territory

This is a concept from General Semantics meant to convey that every perspective is only an outline to serve as a guide for experience. It’s the same as saying, ‘the menu is not the meal’

The goal of this statement is to suggest that you must keep an open mind when dealing with any situation. You can’t possibly know everything. In  other words, you’re understanding of reality (and thus the world around you) isn't necessarily reality itself but your idea of reality.

2. Everything you do is communicating something

In every interaction involving human beings there is communication. Even if you ignore someone you are communicating indifference or anger. If you pay attention to people and interact with them then all your words, facial expressions, voice tonality and body postures will communicate ideas and feelings to them. In other words, whether you interact with others or not, you can’t help but communicate something.

3. The meaning of your communication is the response you get

Quite simply, if you act in a way that makes a person angry then this response of anger also is what your actions mean.

You may not have been consciously trying to make someone angry but your words and behaviour led to anger being directed towards you. You could have acted in a different way, in which case you would have received a different response.

The key from this presupposition is to realize that if you want to change the response you are getting you have the change your approach to communication with the people concerned.

4. There is no failure only feedback

Whatever response you get from communication is providing you with information (i.e. feedback). If you make someone get angry or feel hurt you havnt failed you have simply figure out an approach that doesn’t work. In other words, your communication has given you feedback.

Now you can try a different approach and see if you get the response you want.

If you approach your communication in this manner you are always learning what works and what doesn’t work and all you have to do is go with the approach that gets you the response that you are seeking.

5. Respect the other person’s map of the world

If you respect how the other person sees the world then you can communicate more effectively and will be able to help a person to a greater extent. If you are disrespectful then this may come across in your communications and you may miss a key element in how the other person sees the world that gives you the information you need to help them.

6. Every behavior has a positive intention even if it has a negative impact

Everything a person does is meant to help them in some way. The action may actually be detrimental to what they want to achieve however, the intention behind the action is to make the situation better for themselves, not worse.

For example; someone screaming and shouting may seem like a negative behavior but the goal of the person screaming may be to protect themselves or to push someone away that they dislike – not realizing that the method they are using is inappropriate or ineffective.

7. You are in charge of how you communicate

This is an empowering principle as it means that you have the flexibility to reach the goal you want. You must be able to change your communication if you require a different response or approach a situation with different ideas to help the person get to the goal that is desired. In either case, it is up to you to have the flexibility to succeed.

The Meta Model

When we communicate we automatically edit what we say as we can’t include all of our thoughts, beliefs, memories and decisions into all our statements. For example; if you say “I think my friend doesn't like me”. This is a simple statement that includes many things that are left out as they are not necessary to express how you feel. You left out which friend, how you know the friend doesn't like you, why the friend doesn't like you (in your opinion) and so on. Basically you left your values, memories, decision making process and perspective on your friend.

In the language of the Meta Model all the stuff you left out in making your assessment is called the ‘deep structure’ (of your thoughts) while what you ended up saying is your ‘surface structure’ or what is said minus the totality of your assessment.

The problems that tend to arise in communication are often because those who you are talking to do not know the deep structure of what you are saying. They can only ‘see’ the surface structure of what you are saying. As a consequence all the details left out are filled in by their own understanding of the words you are using and the meanings they convey. That means that when someone is trying to help you based on just a few statements, all their advice is based on the deep structure of their own experiences (i.e. people will often assume they understand what you are saying without knowing the details). This leads to misunderstandings and bad advice.

Thus the Meta Model consists of a set of questions that should be asked to get to the deep structure of the thought being expressed. Understanding the deep structure will lead to better communication and better advice and even help a person understand their own problems and feelings to a greater degree.

The types of questions asked are designed to uncover information that is left out along the following lines.

Deletion: We leave out information. So ask ‘about what?’ or ‘which friend?’ or ‘how do you know this’ to get to the underlying deep structure.

Generalizations: We will often generalize our experiences to include everything when it may only be a specific problem (for example; a depressed person when looking back will only see a depressed life and will ‘forget’ all the good times coloring all of their life with the dull view of their sad perspective).

Distortion: We will often exaggerate or over simplify a situation when you communicate. To get to the underlying structure of what is being said you have to ask questions to remove the deletion, generalization or distortion that tends to occur in our communications.

For more information on the Meta Model check out this page.

The Milton Model

The Milton Model is the exact opposite of the Meta Model in that instead of moving towards being specific the goal is to be vague.

The idea behind the Milton Model is that a person already has the mental resources to solve their problems and it is the job of the therapist to guide the client to access their own resources to solve their problems/challenges. By establishing rapport with the client the therapist figures out which way to guide the client based on the clients own responses and by structuring the language in the sentences being said to the client so they find deep meaning, that helps them to transform themselves from the inside out, using their own unconscious resources.

This process involves establishing rapport with the client so there is trust, followed by relaxing/focusing the client of the issues concerned - using positive suggestions and metaphors - so the client can guide him or her self out of their dilemma using their own inner resources.

Read more on the Milton Model here.

The "5 Minute" Phobia Cure

The fast phobia cure is based on the idea that a phobia is a learned response. A response that is learned extremely fast. That means that generally when someone is afraid of something (intensely) it’s because they had a bad experience and as a result are scared of encountering similar situations again. This bad experience tends to be a one time thing. You have your bad experience and have a phobic response for the rest of your life. The fast phobia cure was developed by Richard Bandler as a simple and fast way to diffuse the fear around a behavior that is learned fast.

The key aspect of getting someone to face a phobia and ultimately cure themselves of it has to do with a psychological mental stance called ‘disassociation’ :

AB ABSTRACT: Evaluated a program for treating phobias based on R. Bandler and J. Grinder's (1979) neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and Ericksonian approaches to psychotherapy within the context of a multifaceted treatment program. 31 phobic patients seen in the group/class treatment program completed a phobia questionnaire fear inventory and the Beck Depression Inventory before and after 8 wks of treatment. 17 patients seen in individual therapy completed part of the phobia questionnaire before and after treatment. Results indicate marked improvement by those who were treated. Findings suggest that NLP holds promise for treating phobias.

(PsycLIT Database Copyright 1989 American Psychological Assn, all rights reserved)

When I first learned this method I used it on everyone I could find, who had even the slightest phobic response to anything. So through several months in college I diffused intense fear and pretty much cured phobias involving bugs of various kinds. Over time I could go over the technique in under 3 minutes with effective results (don't remember the exact time I got it to - in the video below the guy has the phobia cure down to about 2 minutes).

The following outline of the fast phobia cure is from the book Using Your Brain for a Change by Richard Bandler (page 43)

Teaching someone how, and when, to associate or dissociate is one of the most profound and pervasive ways to change the quality of a person's experience, and the behavior that results from it. Dissociation is particularly useful for intensely unpleasant

Does anybody in here have a phobia? I love phobias, but they're so easy to fix that we're running out of them. Look at that. The only people in here with phobias have phobias of raising their hands in an audience.
Joan: I have one.
Do you have a real, flaming phobia?
Joan: Well it's pretty bad. (She starts breathing rapidly and shaking.)
I can see that.
Joan: Do you want to know what it's about?

No, I don't. I'm a mathematician. I work purely with process.
I can't know your inside experience anyway, so why talk about it? You don't have to talk about your inside experience to change it. In fact, if you talk about it, your therapist may end up being a professional companion. You know what you're phobic of. Is it something you see, or hear, or feel?
Joan: It's something I see.
OK. I'm going to ask you to do a few things that you can do in your mind really quickly, so that your phobia won't bother you at all, ever again. I'll give you the directions one part at a
time, and then you go inside and do it. Nod when you're done. First I want you to imagine that you're sitting in the middle of a movie theater, and up on the screen you can see a blackand-white snapshot in which you see yourself in a situation just before you had the phobic response. . . .

Then I want you to float out of your body up to the projection booth of the theater, where you can watch yourself watching yourself. From that   position you'll be able to see yourself sitting
In the middle of the theater, and also see yourself in the still Picture up on the screen. . . .

Now I want you to turn that snapshot up on the screen into a black-and-white movie, and watch it from the beginning to just beyond the end of that unpleasant experience. When you get to the end I want you to stop it as a slide, and then jump inside the picture and run the movie backwards. AH the people will walk backwards and everything else will happen in reverse, just like rewinding a movie, except you will be inside the movie. Run it backwards in color and take only about one or two seconds to do it. ...

Now think about what it is you were phobic of. See what you would see if you were actually there. . . .


There is a write up on this technique online by "The International Certification Board of Clinical Hypnotherapy" called the "NLP Fast Phobia Cure Exercise: If you or a client has a fear of flying, or any other phobia, you might want to try this NLP exercise called the “Fast Phobia Cure.”

Richard Bandler - Fear of Flying Phobia - Part 1 - YouTube

Richard Bandler - Fear of Flying Phobia - Part 2 - YouTube

Richard Bandler explains;

June 14, 2010: Richard Bandler, Co-Founder of NLP from Catherine MacDonald on Vimeo.

Learning & Education

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