Wednesday, 24 September 2014


Our primary focus in Neuro-Semantics is on psychologically healthy people
and facilitating their ongoing development so that they can create the best
version of them and the best version of their families and organizations.
This focus led to all of the developments in Meta-Coaching (the 12 books in
that series) and in Self-Actualization Psychology (four books on this
subject).  It has led to our focus in business on leadership,
self-actualizing business leaders (Unleashing Leadership); it has led to our
focus on politics- on developing self-actualizing politics and politicians
(Political Coaching).   It has led to our focus on wealth creation
(Inside-Out Wealth).

With all of this focus on people who are basically okay, what about those
who are not?  What about those who need therapy- psychological healing?
What about those who are not only not-okay, but suffering on the inside
their mind-emotion system?  Who are inwardly traumatized and who simply are
not psychologically healthy, but unwell?

This is actually where NLP began as it model the therapeutic skills of Fritz
Perls, then Virginia Satir, and then Milton Erickson.  For that reason, NLP
was quickly and early mis-identified as a therapy, or a meta-therapy
discipline.  Yet it is not.  While the early developers modeled
psychotherapists, that was not their interest and it was not what they
actually created.  Yes, they were fascinated by what those world-class
therapists were able to do and how they did it.  Yet above and beyond the
content of therapy, they were interested in the process of communication and
change.  Subsequently  they created a Communication Model- the Meta-Model of

Neither Bandler nor Grinder were therapists, only Pucelik studied therapy
(Gestalt Therapy) at the University and only he continued doing what we
would recognize as "therapy" as he focused on drug and alcohol addictions
and ran (and still runs) recovery programs.  And yet, in spite of that
history, NLP has numerous patterns that are recognized as therapy patterns
and for the first two decades, NLP mostly attracted therapists.
Accordingly, the majority of the early books on NLP applied NLP to therapy
and some of the early authors didn't differentiate what NLP is (i.e., a
Communication Model) and its application in psychotherapy.

My primary work in this area was the book I wrote on personality,
Personality Ordering and Disordering using NLP and Neuro-Semantics (2000) in
which I addressed the 14 personality disorders in the DSM IV.  Collaborating
with me in that book was Bob Bodenhamer, Richard Bolstad, and Margot *.
Other books on psychotherapy was the second book on the Meta-States Model,
Dragon Slaying (1996/ 2000) and Games for Mastering Fear (20??) With Bob
Bodenhamer, also Mastering Stuttering and Blocking (20??) By Bob Bodenhamer,
now titled, In Their Voice.  Later, The Crucible (200?).

Therapy- The Neuro-Semantic Approach

What is the approach that we, in Neuro-Semantics, take regarding therapeutic
work?  How do we conceptualize therapy- what it is, how it works, who needs
it, the therapeutic change work, etc.?

What it is.  "Therapy," by definition, refers to healing.  So given that
we're talking about psycho-therapy, this kind of therapy focuses on healing
the mind, emotions, memories, and relational and social skills.  Given that,
what is there about one's mind, emotions, memories, etc. that is "hurt"or
"sick" (toxic) and needs "healing?"  How can our mind-body-emotion system be
hurt or get sick?

Using Carl Roger's definition of self-actualization provides what I consider
an excellent answer.  He said that a self-actualizing person is a
fully-functioning person- fully functioning mentally, emotionally,
relationally, professionally, etc.  So when that is not present, when one is
not fully well, then one is not-fully-functioning in those areas or

So what is hurt or damaged or not working the way it ought to work?  Answer:
One's mental maps.  The meanings that a person has constructed about things
are not the kind or quality of meanings that enables a person to function or
cope well in the world.  What's wounded is one's understandings, beliefs,
decisions, identity, etc.  How one thinks (cognitive processing style,
cognitive distortions) and what one things (erroneous understandings,
limiting beliefs, toxic decisions, false knowledge, etc.).

To have "hurting" emotions requires having a mis-match between what you
think, believe, and expect from what you are getting and living.  If the
mental map is severely disconnected with the reality on the ground of one's
everyday experiences, then we experience what we call "the negative
emotions."  These "negative" emotions (anger, fear, frustration, annoyance,
stress, upset, grief, sadness, depression, etc.) indicate a gap between
experience (territory) and mental model of the world (map).  The larger the
gap between experience and expectation, the more we sense that our map of
the world is being violated.  That's what gets hurt when we feel bad.  We
feel disappointed or upset or disillusioned because reality felt far short
of our expectations.

Neuro-Semantically, these "negative" emotions provide tremendously important
information and are therefore highly significant and valuable.  The negative
emotion of anger says that something of value in your mental map feels
violated.  The negative emotion of sadness says that something of value in
your mental map feels lost.  Fear says that something feels dangerous.  To
the extent that this is true, and an accurate appraisal, that emotion
provides emotional energy to "stop, look, and listen" to make appropriate
change.  This is the positive use of negative emotions.

Normally none of this does any semantic damage to us.  In fact, it is the
natural and normal functioning of our emotions.  But if we hate, reject, and
refuse the negative emotion- paradoxically it does not go away, but gets
stuck in us.  Then we keep re-processing things over and over and keep
feeling worse and worse.  This is the resentment (feeling the sentiment
repeatedly) process and thereby turns our energies against ourselves (hence,
it creates a "dragon" state).  And if we do not use the negative emotional
energy for changing either our mental map about things and/or our skills in
handling the challenges of life (our coping skills), the "hurt" doesn't go
away, but keeps repeating.  In this way we keep re-traumatizing ourselves
with limiting beliefs, inadequate coping skills, meta-stating of negative
emotions against ourselves ... and let that continue and it will distort
human thinking-emoting- and coping.  And given that is how we "do"
personality, it will over time distort personality.  It is in this way that
we create a strategy for misery- depression, anxiety, and all of the other
problems that call for therapy.  While there is nothing wrong with the
person as a person- the person has come to so misuse his or her personality
powers and functions that the person now needs to stop the traumatizing and
heal the old traumas that are kept alive inside.

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

                Neuro-Semantics Executive Director

                Neuro-Semantics International

P.O. Box 8

Clifton, CO. 81520 USA                            

                1 970-523-7877

Monday, 7 April 2014

FITTING THE MODELS OF NEURO-SEMANTICS TOGETHER I decided to make explicit the system of Neuro-Semantics after getting questions in my Meta Master Practitioner training: "How do the pieces of Neuro-Semantics fit together? How do the models interface with each other?" The following sorts out the models of Neuro-Semantics in terms of: Processes, Patterns and Models and I end it with how it all fits together within the larger context of Self-Actualization Psychology. Processes: First of all – State. A state is a general description of the combination of thinking, feeling, body movement, degree of muscle tension etc, We are always in a state and that state effects what we think, feel, and how we act and speak. We get information about the world outside our head through our eyes, ears, nose, tounge and touch/sense. We re-present this information through mental imagery, sounds or voices, tension and other kinds of feelings in our body and we also store information in smell and taste. We edit the movies (a metaphorical description of the VAKOG-information) by how we relate to it in space (near/far, above/under/in front of/behind, inside our outside the images etc) and we give meaning to that relationship to the "movie". In Neuro-Semantics this is called Meta-modalities or Sub-Modalities. As we represent the world in sequences of images/sounds/feeling/smell/taste we called that
We use Language as a way to code the world symbolically and metaphorically (all language is metaphorical). Language is correlating with our representations - "internal senses", the meta-modalities, and we use language to give meaning and even though we use the same words they mean different things depending to how we make meaning of the symbols through what we see, hear/say and feel about them. The Language patterns or language models are all different applications of the same process, Language. Then we give Meaning to things through language. We make sense of the world by explaining it to ourselves linguistically by what something "is" or adapt our "map" (which of course is a metaphoric description of how we connect things) to what we learn from parents, family, friends, school (which has the purpose of making us productive citizens), work, media etc. We can give meaning that explain, that give us freedom… and toxic meaning that limit us and can make us sick both physically and mentally. We embody meaning and when we tell ourselves that the meanings we have given to things is real and true we form beliefs.

 Recommended books on the processes, patterns and models: Processes: VAKOG: MovieMind by L. Michael Hall Meta-Modalities: Sub-Modalities going Meta by L. Michael Hall and Bob Bodenhamer Get the life you want – Richard Bandler Language: Communication Magic by L. Michael Hall MindLines by L. Michael Hall and Bob Bodenhamer Hypnosis – a comprehensive guide by Tad James Richard Bandlers guide to Trance-Formation by Richard Bandler Cognitive Linguistics – An introduction by Vyvyan Evans and Melanie Green Hypnotic Realities by Erickson, Rossi & Rossi Training Trances by Overdurf & Silverthorn Precision – A new approach to Communication by Grinder & McMaster Sleight of Mouth by Robert Dilts Meaning & Meta-States: Meta-States by L. Michael Hall Neuro-Semantics – actualizing Meaning & Performance by L. Michael Hall States of Equilibrium by John Burton Beliefs by Dilts, Hallway & Smith (not explicitly on Meta-States but if read with "Meta- State eyes" it´s all about Meta-States) Patterns: The Sourcebook of Magic by L. Michael Hall The Sourcebook of Magic Volume II (Meta-Stating patterns) by L. Michael Hall Change your Mind and Keep the change by Steve Andreas and Connirae Andreas Heart of the Mind by Steve Andreas and Connirae Andreas Models: The Matrix Model by L. Michael Hall The Crucible by L. Michael Hall Meta-Coaching vol I by L. Michael Hall and Michelle Duval Meta-Coaching vol II – Coaching Conversations by L. Michael Hall and Michelle Duval Self-Actualization Psychology by L. Michael Hall Unleashed by L. Michael Hall Unleashing Leadership by L. Michael Hall Benchmarking by L. Michael Hall Group and Team Coaching by L. Michael Hall Systemic Coaching by L. Michael Hall

You can clean up your language and get over a lot of precision by using the
Meta-Model of Language and the Representational Model (#13).  These
precision models inform you how to become more precise and specific in the
way you think and then talk.  Now within the Meta-Model is a particular
distinction that's especially critical-nominalizations and the skill of

This is actually a subject that I speak and write about a lot.  And even
though I do, I find that most of us, including myself, can so easily get
seduced by the hypnotic power of nominalizations.  And if you really don't
know how to recognize these great big fluffy words (a nominalization) and
deal with it, your language is going to be sloppy- very sloppy.  And that
means you will not be precise in communicating even though you probably will
think you are.  That's one of the seductions of nominalizations.  The
speaker has details in mind when speaking, but the language form does not
convey them.  So the speaker will feel as if he or she is being precise even
though what comes out of the mouth is vague, indefinite, and fluffy.

So, what is a nominalization?  A nominalization refers to an action or a
process which has been named, or nominalized.  The problem is that when we
give a name to an action, it tricks our mind.  The "name" (noun) makes the
action sound like and seem like as if it were a thing.

One person relating to another person is doing something: talking,
requesting, kissing, holding, hitting, smiling, laughing, crying, helping,
listening, etc.  By relating they now have a relationship.  Sounds like a
thing.  It is not.

When you think and value yourself as valuable as a person, you esteem
yourself as significant.  When you name this action, you create the
nominalization, self-esteem.  It sounds like a thing.  It is not.

When a person is leading a group with a vision, he or she is said to have
leadership qualities.

Prior to Transformational Grammar which came up with the term,
"nominalization," Abraham Maslow called this process- reification.  Others
have called it thingification.  Nominalizing is the concretizing of a
dynamic moving process (which is best described by verbs) as if it is a noun
("a person, place, or thing").  Yet it is not.

As a result of this, it makes the nominalization false-to-fact.  What the
nominalization presents is not just an over-generalization, not just a idea
that's very fluffy and vague.  The nominalization is actually a lie, a
deception.  The so-called thing is not a "thing" at all!

"My self-esteem these days is really because of the problems in my
relationship which makes me feel stressed-out and it's going to lead to a

All of the italicized words in the above sentence are nominalizations and
they are connected by fallacious cause-effect structures (indicated by the
words "because" and "going to lead").  Here is one single sentence and it is
full of fluff and vagueness.  The person's languaging here is really sloppy.
And the person probably doesn't have a clue as to how this single sentence
is semantically loaded with toxic ideas and how it works as a post-hypnotic
suggestion to make life more and more miserable in the future.

If you want to create imprecision, just take some action words, nominalize
them, connect them to some cause-effect statements and you can semantically
pack a sentence so that it is full of abstract concepts.  What you say will
seem meaningful to you.  And I'm sure you are trying to communicate
something.  But when you do that you will not be communicating with
precision and so those of us listening will typically experience confusion
... or we will hallucinate our own meanings onto the other's words.

Okay, now for cleaning up our language.  The solution is simple:
de-nominalize the nominalizations.  That is, turn the false-nouns back into
verbs and then specify the verbs.  If you hear "relationship," ask "Who's
relating to whom?"  "What is X doing in relating to Y?"  If you hear the
nominalization "self-esteem," ask "How are you esteeming yourself?  By what
criteria?  In what way?"

Now to turn a false noun back into a verb, you first have to be able to
recognize a false noun or nominalization.  When I first learned NLP, I was
introduced to two tests for a nominalization:

1) The Wheelbarrow Test.  Can you put the nominalization in a wheelbarrow?
Can you put "relationship" in a wheelbarrow?  No.  Can you put "self-esteem"
in a wheelbarrow?  No.

2) The Ongoing Test.  If you say, "it is an ongoing ..." and fill in the
blank with the word, does it make sense?  "An ongoing relationship..."  Yes,
makes sense.

3) Here's another test: See if you can make a picture of the word.  You can
make pictures of real nouns of "persons, places, and things."  It doesn't
work with a false noun.  Can see a "relationship" or "motivation."  So ask
some more questions until you can see what they are talking about.

Nominalizations have their place especially in doing trance inductions, but
not for communicating with clarity and precision.  Use them sparingly, if
you use them too much your language will be fluffy and sloppy.  That's why
we need to clean up our language of them.

Neuro-Semantic News

.        It  has been over 3 years since Meta-Coaching occurred in the
United States .  and it may be another 3 years.  So this year --- July 1-3
and July 4-11 for Modules II and III is a special event.   Register now and
get a big savings.  Write for a brochure:

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

                Neuro-Semantics Executive Director

                Neuro-Semantics International

P.O. Box 8

Clifton, CO. 81520 USA                            

                1 970-523-7877

                Dr. Hall's email:



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Monday, 24 March 2014


We live our lives in language.  At a most fundamental level, we are
linguistic beings.  We inevitably create mental maps using our native
language and whatever additional languages that we have learned.  We cannot
do otherwise.  And if we don't, we don't become human.  Is that shocking?
It ought to be.  And if you ask for the evidence, you have to go no further
than the phenomenon of "feral children."

There used to be feral children-the children who in some way got lost from
home, from mother and father, and left in the wild, they were "adopted" and
raised by animals- dogs, wolves, etc.  Once upon a time feral children were
not that uncommon, but fortunately the last ones reported were in the
nineteenth century.  What we discovered about such children is that if they
missed the imprint period of language, that period in which a child enters
into the semantic world that's navigated by symbols- later when the child
was discovered and brought into society, it was never able to enter into,
and live in, the symbolic world of human culture and language.  The feral
child would not wear clothes, eat without utilizes (gobble food like an
animal), would be unable to talk and use language, etc.  He or she would
never really enter into the human condition.

We are so inevitably linguistic in nature that without language we cannot be
human.  If all we could do would be to create visual images, auditory
sounds, kinesthetic sensations, olfactory smells, and gustatory tastes and
we could not name any of these or relate one to a conceptual idea of
meaning, our consciousness would be extremely limited.  In NLP we call these
sensory experiences our representational systems, our VAK languages of mind.
These enable us to detect and work with the movies that we play in our

In NLP we call the domain of language-the meta-representational system.  And
while there's lots of problems with it, it is this system by which we can
use develop our meta-consciousness (consciousness-of-consciousness).  It is
the language system that allows us to detect our thinking, adjust it, refine
it, and improve it.  It is our self-reflexive consciousness that takes
fullest use of this higher and more abstract thinking and that enables us,
as humans, to create science and art so we can keep improving upon our
knowledge over the ages (e.g., time-binding).

Yet language itself is a challenge and a problem.  That's mostly because our
languages are not very precise.  Both the structure of our language and
hundreds, if not thousands, of words are very poor "maps" for using to
navigate the sea of experience.  And no wonder.  Our words and language and
ideas have developed over thousands of years and grew up from more primitive
times.  And growing up during more primitive times, we still have many
primitive pre-scientific, unscientific, and erroneous ideas incorporated in
our language.

For these reasons (and others), one of the tasks before all of us, if we are
to live a sanely and effectively, is to clean up our language.  With so much
contamination in our words, our sentences, our ideas, our philosophies, and
our assumptions- when we use words without consciousness of what we are
saying, the premises we are operating from, what we are presupposing without
evidence, etc., we thereby contaminate our responses, our relationships, our
emotions, and more.

Another factor enters into this consideration.  We are not only linguistic
beings, we are neuro-linguistic beings.  What does that mean?  First, it
means that the very creation and generation of our words and language arise
in our neurology from how we use our neurology.  Korzybski described this in
terms of how our nervous systems abstract from the world "out there," the
energy-manifestations that impact our sense-receptors, and then transform
those impacts along the neuro-pathways of our body and sent then to the
various sensory cortexes where that information is processed.  The NLP
founders described this as how our nervous systems model the see-hear-feel
world of experiences that we encounter by deleting, generalizing, and
distorting that information.  This enables each of us to create an unique
mental model or map of the world and use it in our responses.

[Read more about that in Korzybski's classic book, Science and Sanity (1933,
1994) and Bandler and Grinder's The Structure of Magic (1975, 1976).]

As neuro-linguistic beings, using language enables us to send signals to our
body and our body (neurology, physiology) responds to that information.
When those signals are coded as "beliefs" then the signals operate as
"commands" to our nervous systems which they then seek to "actualize" (make
real).  In Neuro-Semantics we highlight this structure and use it to guide
the thought-signals and the belief-commands we want to be commissioning our
body to feel and actualize.  That's because we know that "as we believe, so
we are" and "so be it unto you."  In this way beliefs become self-fulfilling
prophecies (or self-organizing attractors).

Is it any wonder then that we need to clean up our language?  Do you know
what you are doing to yourself with your language?  Would you like to?  In
this and the next articles, I'll be addressing some of the ways that you can
clean up your language and give reasons for how it will improve the quality
of your life.  There are so many ways in which language can misdirect you
and send you off in unproductive directions.  Yet the amazing thing is that
you can use such language and never suspect this.  You can use the most
dis-empowering language and not even realize it.  That's why Meta-Coaches
learn to listen for that kind of language and then invite awareness, "Do you
hear what you just said?  Do you really hear what's implied in what you just
said?"  That's step on for cleaning up your language.  More are to come.

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

                Neuro-Semantics Executive Director

                Neuro-Semantics International

P.O. Box 8

Clifton, CO. 81520 USA                            

                1 970-523-7877

                Dr. Hall's email: