Modelling Problems with NLP and Neuro-Semantics

  • How do we solve complex problems?
  • How do we make changes when change has been hard?
  • How do we solve problems that are resistant to change?

The question that has dominated the field of psychology is why? This has led countless devotees of psychotherapy incessantly searching for solutions to their problems in the long distant past. But digging into the past for why rarely leads to true and lasting change. If it did, we’d have a problem-free society. Sadly that’s not the case.

To resolve complex problems, we need a different approach. The advent of NLP was a revolutionary development in the history of psychology. Instead of asking why, the co-founders chose a different question: how?

The developers of NLP took a radically different approach to solving problems. Instead of looking for why and digging into childhood, they wanted to know how a person succeeded in getting a certain result consistently.

They were guided by two fundamental ideas:

1. Every experience has a structure
NLP thinking viewed human experience as constructed out of various building blocks. This meant that behind any result different people were getting (ie. depression, anxiety, phobia), common patterns in thinking and perceiving would be found. The trick was to uncover these building blocks since they were unconscious.

2. Problems are unique human achievements
NLP thinking viewed problems as skills a person had learned at some time and mastered. Now they were like programs running automatically even thought they were no longer effective or relevant.

Based on these ideas, the co-developers of NLP wanted to discover how people were able to systematically get the same result.

  • How does someone do depression?
  • How does someone have to think to panic?
  • How does someone succeed at being phobic?

This was the modelling approach, and it was guided by a fundamental question:

How does this work?

In working with people, Richard Bandler and John Grinder would ask, How do you do this? They would propose a very novel context for exploring a problem saying, “Suppose I’m from a temp agency and I am going to fill in for you for a day. How do I do this?” This made the person the expert at their problem, and it was up to them to teach Bandler and Grinder how to do it.

Using this approach, people gained a radically different kind of awareness into their problem. And it was a kind of awareness that helped them change… and helped Bandler and Grinder intervene almost magically. Since they knew how the problem worked, since they had uncovered the structure, they could apply maximally effective and relevant interventions that worked quickly to produce dramatic results.

Mapping Out Complexity

Most people make a fundamental mistake in trying to solve problems. They try to solve the problem without really knowing what they problem is. Then, they wonder why what they did didn’t work.

To solve a problem, you must first know what the problem really is. This means seeing beyond symptoms and finding the causes, and getting the whole picture. If you get some of it but miss something crucial, your solution might not work.

Modelling with NLP and Neuro-Semantics looks at the mind as a system and helps us unmask the hidden structures that lead to a problem. Through modelling, we can uncover what is really going on, how it works and then we know how to intervene.

Questions for Modelling:

How does this work?
How do you get this result?
How do you do this?
What are the pieces of this?
What hidden beliefs and silent assumptions drive this?
What values and criteria are involved?
What states are involved?
What are the symptoms? What are the causes?
Where did this come from?
What is the purpose of this?
What drives this?
What’s behind this?
What keeps this in place?

David Kynan

David Kynan will get you there with practical cutting-edge methods for change and performance. President of Personis Coaching and Training ( and Former Vice President of the Canadian Association of NLP, David coaches, teaches and consults on how to make change happen when change is hard. He also lends his skills to individuals, professionals and businesses on topics related to strategic intervention, problem solving, marketing and sales. His expertise has landed him training and consulting contracts with companies such as Sun Life Financial, Medisca Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Pure Water Technologies. He has been featured in the Montreal Mirror, interviewed on CTV and presented on his work at the Canadian Human Rights Commission in Ottawa.

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