Brief NLP Therapy


Ian McDermott & Wendy Jago

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  • Brief Therapies Series

    Series Editor: Stephen Palmer

    Associate Editor: Gladeana McMahon

    Focusing on brief and time-limited therapies, this series of books is aimed at students, beginning and experienced counsellors, therapists and other members of the helping professions who need to know more about working with the specific skills, theories and practices involved in this demanding but vital area of their work.

    Books in the series:

    Solution-Focused Therapy

    Bill O'Connell

    A Psychodynamic Approach to Brief Counselling and Pyschotherapy

    Gertrud Mander

    Brief Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

    Berni Curwen, Stephen Palmer and Peter Ruddell

    Solution-Focused Groupwork

    John Sharry

    Transactional Analysis Approaches to Brief Therapy

    Keith Tudor


    View Copyright Page


    For Ed Reese LCSW and MaryAnn Reese LMFT, who were outstanding clinicians long before they became exceptional NLP trainers.

    About the Authors

    Ian McDermott is a United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapy (UKCP) accredited psychotherapist who has been working with clients since 1980 and actively using NLP in clinical practice since 1984. Having trained in a variety of approaches ranging from Gestalt, to Bioenergetics, to Group Analysis, he considers NLP to be an invaluable unifying model of successful therapeutic intervention.

    A leading trainer, consultant and author in the field of NLP and systems thinking and a Certified Trainer of NLP, he was made an International NLP Diplomate in 1994 in recognition of his contribution to the field.

    As Director of Training for International Teaching Seminars he has been responsible for developing, supervising and in part delivering major 20-day NLP certification trainings at all levels. These include Practitioner, Master Practitioner and post-graduate programmes such as the Health Certification Training. His primary focus recently has been developing a full-scale Coaching Certification Programme which integrates NLP and coaching.

    He has authored numerous NLP tape sets including An Introduction to NLP: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People (Thorsons, 1996), NLP: Health and Well-Being (Thorsons, 1996), both with Joseph O'Connor, as well as Freedom from the Past (ITS Audio, 1995), Tools for Transformation (ITS Audio, 1996) and distance learning packs such as The Professional Development Programme (ITS Audio, 1997). His work on creativity has been videoed by the BBC and is now part of the Open University's MBA Programme.

    A regular contributor to television, radio and the national press, his books have been translated into 15 languages. They include: Principles of NLP (Thorsons, 1996), NLP and Health (Thorsons, 1996), Practical NLP for Managers (Gower, 1997), The Art of Systems Thinking (Thorsons, 1997), all with Joseph O'Connor, Develop Your Leadership Qualities (Time-Life, 1995), Take Control of Your Life (Time-Life, 1996) (with Joseph O'Connor and others), NLP and the New Manager (Texere, 1998), Manage Yourself, Manage Your

    Life (Piatkus, 1999) (both with Ian Shircore), NLP Coach (Piatkus, 2001) (with Wendy Jago).

    Ian McDermott can be contacted through

    Wendy Jago is a Master Practitioner in NLP and certified NLP Coach and has been in practice as a therapist, consultant and trainer since the early 1980s. Formerly a Lecturer in English and Senior Lecturer in Education at the Universities of Sussex and Brighton, she has also been extensively involved in the in-service training of varied professional groups including teachers, social workers, probation officers, health professionals and psychotherapists.

    In helping people with a wide range of personal and professional issues, she draws upon NLP, Rogerian counselling and Ericksonian hypnotherapy, tailoring her approach to the needs of each client.

    She is co-author with Jan Pye of Effective Communication in Practice (Churchill Livingstone, 1998), and is engaged in writing on a variety of applications of NLP in the fields of therapy, management and sports performance.

  • Personal Postscript

    If one approaches therapy from an integrational viewpoint, it becomes clear that many fields not labeled as ‘human relations’ disciplines had much to say about parts of the human gestalt long before human relations fields emerged. In my therapy and training, I make use of principles and ideas gleaned from the disciplines of dance, drama, religion, medicine, communications, education, speech, the behavioral sciences – even the physical sciences, from which the ‘systems concept’ (on which my practice is based) first derived. Integration, in theory and practice, of all the tools available to man for his growth is necessary before we begin to deal in fact with the ‘total man’.

    (Satir, On Becoming a Person, 1967: 179)

    In Chapter 7 we stressed that therapists have as much right to benefit from the therapy they practice as their clients, and that our continued personal growth and development are an important – even when unarticulated – resource for them as well as for ourselves. That is our belief – and it is also our experience. As we were thinking about this, and about what we hope you have gained from reading the book you are now holding, we each became curious about how the other had become involved with NLP, and what they had gained from it.

    Towards the end of the 1970s, Ian was very aware of how therapies tended to become insulated from one another, each with their beliefs, methodologies and clinical groupings. With a long-standing interest in looking for commonalities within the field, he deliberately chose for his own therapeutic training one which offered an eclectic approach, exploring the validity and strength of many different approaches. At this time, the first books on NLP, modelling the structure of excellent practice, were starting to be published. Ian's later training exemplified for him how very different approaches can be outstanding: at the same time as he undertook a training in NLP he also took the introductory year at the Institute of Group Analysis – both outstanding, both stimulating, yet very different.

    As a student, then tutor, of English Literature, Wendy was also drawn to patterns, especially those of metaphor and the structure of language. Moving into group-work and the training of teachers took this awareness into practical applications within the interaction between dyads and groups, further emphasised in her training as a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist. At this point, she also encountered the early books on NLP, which though not studied on the course were personally recommended by a course tutor – and which she found far more fascinating and useful than the ‘official’ reading list!

    We first met on a professional workshop not long after this, at about the time Ian was founding International Teaching Seminars (ITS) and Wendy was launching out into private practice and beginning to teach hypnosis and psychotherapy. Then there was a gap of about ten years, during which time Wendy often thought of taking an NLP training, but never felt justified in spending the time or the money ‘on herself’ when she could already ‘do’ many of the techniques.

    During all this time, she remained on the ITS mailing list, and when planning a book with another colleague, decided to attend one of Ian's open evenings, entitled ‘Constructing Your Future’. When Ian asked for examples of the kind of future people wanted to create, Wendy and her colleague said they wanted to write a book. They asked for tips in starting and one of the things Ian said was: ‘What is important is to think about who will be wanting to read this book 18 months from now – and then write it for them.’ And that is what Wendy and her colleague Jan did. Using this approach they wrote an outline and sample chapter of their book and found a publisher who commissioned them to write the rest. Prompted by the success of this approach, they both decided to take a training with ITS. It proved life-transforming in many ways, rather than an indulgence, and above all an in-the-muscle experience, where before the knowledge had been largely conceptual.

    The writing of this book has thus been the most recent in a series of spontaneous and significant meetings. We invite you in turn to consider the chain of events which has led you to reading it. How come you were interested at this time? What does this tell you about what's important to you?

    For both of us, discovering NLP and exploring what it has to offer us and our clients has been – and continues to be – an enabling, fascinating, exciting, and joyful experience. Our hope is that NLP may enrich not only your clients' experience but yours too.

    Resources and Training

    If you have found this book of interest you will benefit tremendously from actually experiencing good NLP training. Because NLP is skillbased you can learn a lot in a hands-on training programme that gives you the opportunity to test and try out the techniques, the howto's and, above all, this way of thinking.

    International Teaching Seminars is a world leader in quality NLP training. It also has links with many other NLP organisations around the world.

    You can get further information via the web, by phone or fax or by mail:

    Phone:from inside the UK: 0207 247 0252
    from outside the UK: +44 207 247 0252
    Fax: from inside the UK: 0207 247 0242
    from outside the UK: +44 207 247 0242
    Mail:International Teaching Seminars
    19 Widegate Street
    London E1 7HP
    United Kingdom

    Further NLP Presuppositions

    In relation to the other chapter topics we have covered, the following NLP presuppositions are particularly useful:

    • People respond to their map of reality, but not to reality itself. NLP is the art of changing these maps, not changing the reality.
    • It is easier to change yourself than others.
    • People already have all the resources they need – including those necessary to make any desired change.
    • People work perfectly – no one is wrong or broken.
    • Modelling excellence leads to excellence.
    • If one person can do something, it is possible to model it and teach it to others.
    • Mind and body are one integrated system.
    • Communication is both verbal and non-verbal, both conscious and unconscious.
    Client-Therapist System
    • Rapport is meeting individuals at their map of the world.
    • There are no resistant clients, only inflexible communicators.
    Benefits to Client
    • Every experience can be utilised.
    • You are not your behaviour.
    Benefits to Therapist
    • Behaviour is the highest quality information.
    • Individuals with the most flexibility have the highest probability of achieving the responses they desire.

    References and Further Reading

    Andreas, Steve and Andreas, Connirae (1987) Change Your Mind, and Keep the Change. Moab, UT: Real People Press.
    Andreas, Steve and Andreas, Connirae (1989) Heart of the Mind. Moab, UT: Real People Press.
    Ansbacher, Heinz L. and Ansbacher, Rowena R. (ed.) (1958) The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler. London: Allen and Unwin.
    Bandler, Richard and Grinder, John (1975) The Structure of Magic, Volume One. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books.
    Bandler, Richard and Grinder, John (1976) The Structure of Magic, Volume Two. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books.
    Berne, Eric (1969) Games People Play. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
    Chopra, Deepak (1990) Quantum Healing. New York: Bantam Books.
    Dilts, Robert (1990) Changing Belief Systems with NLP. Capitola, CA: Meta Publications.
    Dilts, Robert and DeLozier, Judith (2000) Encyclopedia of Systematic Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Scotts Valley, CA: NLP University Press.
    Dilts, Robert, Halbron, Tim and Smith, Suzi (1990) Beliefs: Pathways to Health and Well-Being. Portland, OR: Metamorphous Press.
    Edwards, Monica (1952) Hidden in a Dream. London: Collins (
    1966 edition
    Erikson, Milton H. (1954) ‘Pseudo-Orientation in Time as a Hypnotherapeutic Procedure’ in ErnestL. Rossi (ed.) (1980) Collected Papers, Volume IV. New York: Irvington.
    Goffman, Erving (1963) Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Harmondsworth: Penguin (
    1968 edition
    Gordon, David (1978) Therapeutic Metaphors: Helping Others through the Looking Glass. Capitola, CA: Meta Publications.
    Lankton, Steve (1980) Practical Magic: A Translation of Basic NLP into Clinical Psychotherapy. Capitola, CA: Meta Publications.
    Maslow, Abraham (1968) Toward a Psychology of Being. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand Co.
    McDermott, Ian and O'Connor, Joseph (1996) NLP and Health. London: Thorsons.
    McDermott, Ian and Shircore, Ian (1999) Manage Yourself, Manage Your Life. London: Piatkus Books.
    O'Connor, Joseph and McDermott, Ian (2001) Way of NLP. London: Thorsons.
    O'Connor, Joseph and McDermott, Ian (1997) The Art of Systems Thinking. London: Thorsons.
    Remen, Rachel Naomi (1989) ‘The search for healing’, in R.Carlson and B.Shield (eds), Healers on Healing. Los Angeles, CA: Tarcher. p. 93.
    Rogers, Carl Ransom (1967) On Becoming a Person. London: Constable & Co.
    Rosen, Sidney (ed.) (1982) My Voice Will Go With You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson. London: W.W. Norton.
    Rossi, Ernest L. (1986) The Psychobiology of Mind-Body Healing. London: W.W. Norton
    Shazer, Steve de (1988) Clues, Investigating Solutions in Brief Therapy. London: W.W. Norton.
    Zeig, Jeffrey K. and Gilligan, Stephen G. (1990) Brief Therapy. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

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