A possible NLP History

The NLP history is difficult to write about because Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a house divided with the two main groups being those trained by Dr. Richard Bandler ’s and John and Kathleen LaValle known as the Society of NLP of which I trained and am affiliated and those students that were trained through the International Training Academy of NLP and are students of John Grinder , Carmen Bostic St. Clair and Michael Carroll.

I’m sure that there are many versions of this NLP history and I will do my best to be sure that this is as true as possible, but if there are any challenges to this account they are just as likely to be true as this one is. MasterSamNaples-NLP-Hypnotherapy has written this history with the utmost gratitude and respect for all people involved with the inseption and development of NLP and is always willing to add or correct anything in this history that is incorrect.

NLP history begins with a young Richard Bandler, a physics, computer science student at University of California at Santa Cruz in the early 1970’s. While watching video’s of Gestalt Therapy founder Fritz Perls, which Bandler was transcribing for Bob Spitzer, he began to see linguistic patterns that Perls used affect change in the people he did therapy with.

“Step back and see what the f_ck is really going on.” Richard Bandler

Bandler began to host “gestalt-type” group therapy sessions at the university getting the attention of many students and one of the linguistics professors, Dr. John Grinder. After watching several sessions Grinder approached Bandler with several observations and some questions. Bandler’s fake it till you make it New Jersey attitude led him to pretend he knew everything that Grinder was talking about and ultimately they began to work together.

Dr. Grinder brought to the table his knowledge of Transformational Grammar including the concepts of “deep structure” and “surface structure” and Korzybski’s concept that the Map is not the Territory, and that when we receive information we either delete, distort and generalize that information. This material grew to be the content of the books, The Structure of Magic I and II.

Richard Bandler was living in a house and a friend of the owner was famed couples and family therapist Virginia Satir who was living in the guest house. She became friends with Bandler and began taking him with her when she went to do therapy often in mental institutions. He noticed similarities in what Virginia and Perls did and these similarities became another clue as to how successful therapy worked.

Most of what Satir and Pearls did was unconscious to them. Dr. Bandler tells the story of how when they explained what Satir did to her, she lost her edge and was unable to work because she kept thinking about what she was doing. He states that he needed to do a process with her to make these ‘techniques’ again unconscious.

Unscientific Study

Next significant event in NLP history was when Bandler and Grinder became friends with Gregory Bateson, the world famous anthropologist and husband of Margaret Meed. Bateson believed that meaning could only be found within a context, subjective relativism. This influenced Bandler and Grinder’s un-scientific research into the nature of subjective experience. Unscientific is used because science seeks to find the objective, what is the same about each “individual,” while NLP seeks to find what is unique about each individual, “subjective.”

Dr. Bandler also speaks of going into some of the “better” mental institutions in California and the people were almost prisoners. He speaks of one patient that was in an institution that was labeled a paranoid schizophrenic. When Bandler spoke to this poor soul he learned that he had been on an acid trip, common in California in the 60’s and was committed to an institution. When he realized what had happened he tried to escape, which any normal person would do and was labeled paranoid schizophrenic. It was because of instances like this and Dr. Bandler’s polarity responding tendencies that caused him to avoid going the academic, traditional route with NLP.

Meta Model

Much of what Bandler and Grinder learned from Perls and Satir became the foundation for what is know in NLP history as the Meta Model. The three primary parts of the Meta Model are the processes of deletion, distortion and generalization. It is by deleting, distorting and generalizing that we are able to make sense of the world and it is by these same processes that mental problems develop. The first two books of NLP The Structure of Magic I and II are explain the meta model and it’s application in therapy.

Dr. Dave Dobson

Next in NLP history was the relationship that Bandler and Grinder had with the famed hypnotherapist the late Dr. David Dobson . Dobson was one of the early hypnotherapists that taught Richard Bandler hypnosis. The Legendary Barbara Stepp , Dobson’s soul mate told the author that Dr. Bandler said that the hypnotic voice in his head was Dave Dobson’s voice. Stepp also informed the author that one of the early seminars taught by Bandler and Grinder took place in Dobson’s living room. This was before they came up with the name Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

The Milton Model

In the telling of NLP history not enough emphasis can be placed upon the friendship they developed with Gregory Bateson who acquainted Bandler and Grinder to concepts now fundamental to NLP such as logical levels, logical types, and the double bind theory which are an integral part of NLP. In addition to the intellectual stimulation that they got from the musings of Gregory Bateson they also learned of his good friend, the famed hypnotherapist and founder of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, Dr. Milton H. Erickson .

As Bandler and Grinder observed more and more closely what Erickson did in hypnosis and therapy, the began to realize that he was doing exactly opposite of what therapists like Perls and Satir were doing when applying the meta model to a client. Where the meta model strives to bring clarity and reveal the deep structure of the client. With the “reverse meta-model” Milton strove to be “artfully vague.” The reverse meta-model or Milton Model bypasses the conscious mind and communicates directly to the unconscious mind. Much of what Bandler and Grinder learned from modeling the work of Erickson became the material for the two books Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson Volume I (1975) and Volume II ( 1977).

Other people instrumental to the evolution of Neuro-Linguistic Programming that belong in this NLP history were Leslie Cameron–Bandler (who was Dr. Bandler’s first wife), Judith DeLozier, Stephen Gilligan, Robert Dilts,David Gordon.

At the time of this writing of the NLP history most of these people are still alive and active in teaching their versions of NLP. As previously mentioned Dr. Bandler’s organization which is run by John and Kathleen LaValle is known as The Society of NLP,TM and a running list of every practitioner, master practitioner and trainer licensed by the society. Dr. Grinder now calls his version New Code NLP and certifies people through International Training Academy of NLP.

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