Blog NLP Reviews

Review: The Origins of NLP

51hg4YTDSUL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Origins of NLP is a wonderful insight into the madness and chaos and genius of early NLP. I think that anyone who is serious about NLP would get a lot out of it.

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Review: Heart of the Mind

Title: Heart of the Mind
Authors: Connirae Andreas and Steve Andreas
Published: 1989
For me, this is one of the classic NLP books, a beautifully written and very accessible book that explains so many of the key processes in NLP. It is full of real-life examples, and probably most importantly it has many transcripts of actual client sessions and the kind of change language that is assumed but not actually used in many NLP books.

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The Destination Method Video

This is an interesting fast-paced video by Robert Dee McDonald talking about his Destination Method.

I watched a webinar of Robert in the NLP Planet online conference and found his ideas interesting. I first heard about him through his work on the Tools of the Spirit book which he authored with Robert Dilts. I have used several of the processes in this book and found them useful (even if just a little bit weirder than even the average NLP process!)
In the Destination Method, Robert McDonald suggests that change can occur at many different levels and that the higher levels (e.g. Spirit and Soul) affect the psychological levels. People familiar with Robert’s Dilts’ model of Neurological Levels may like to note the similarities and differences. A screenshot from the video is shown below which includes the levels in the Destination Method.
Screen Shot 2013-02-23 at 8.51.39 PM

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Review: The Future of Educational Neuroscience. Report

The summary of this report by Kurt Fischer immediately seemed to make sense to me, yet it does attempt to cover an enormous swathe of territory.

“The primary goal of the emerging field of educational neuroscience and the
broader movement called Mind, Brain, and Education is to join biology with cognitive science, development, and education so as to create a sound grounding of education in research on learning and teaching.”

Biology, cognitive science, development … education – those are pretty big areas in themselves and so the name of the area has to be big. Hence, the name Mind, Brain, and Education has emerged.
I have worked as a teacher for about 20 years and was involved in full-time education for a long time before that, so I figure that I know a fair bit about education and the one thing that I can say with certainty is that it is complex and non-homogenous. While there is no doubt that mind and brain are a huge part of education, the social element is so pervasive that I wonder if the name is really suitable. We do not learn as solitary minds or brains, but rather as social beings who are highly influenced by the social context. I’m sure that the discipline of MBE will try to bring in the social element, but the first two words seem to place to emphasis strongly on the individual rather than on the social learning context.

“The field of medicine provides the closest analogy to education, combining
scientific research with practice to improve the long-term well-being of human beings.”

This is an interesting analogy and I would be interested to hear other people’s viewpoints on it. Medicine has traditionally focused on an illness-focused model. Perhaps the same could be said about education? I would like to think that we are focused more on positive growth.
The report calls for more serious research on education (in the classroom) and rightly points out that much of the well-funded research for education has been over-focused on testing.

“Most important, for educational neuroscience to reach its potential, infrastructure must be created to catalyze research on learning and teaching, creating scientific knowledge for education. Then research tools such as brain imaging, analysis of cognitive processing and mental models, and genetics assessment can be used to illuminate the “black box” and uncover underlying learning mechanisms and causal relations (Hinton & Fischer, 2008).”

This quote seems so chunked up and generalized as to be almost pointless. I understand that the report is general in nature, but does this sentence really actually say much?

“Readers find articles more convincing when they contain brain images as opposed to graphs or other illustrations (McCabe & Castel, 2008), and neuroscience information is particularly influential in readers who lack relevant background knowledge (Weisberg et al., 2008).”

So true! A few brain images immediately adds credibility to some quite ludicrous statements. I have admittedly used the same technique myself – flashing an image of a brain scan in order to demonstrate some point which may not truly hold up. There is a long way between pictures/interpretations of momentary brain activity and actual behaviour/learning. As we all know, photoshop can be deceiving, and brain scans are highly subject to interpretation, too ;)
The report authors also note the gap between neural images and behaviour when they say “Moving from knowledge of the brain such as images of brain activity directly to educational application is indeed difficult in many cases.”
I found the slightly chunked-down research goals of the report to be the most useful element.

1. Understanding the Development of Structured Representations
e.g. examining development of phonology in children
2. Understanding Complexity through Models
e.g. Cognitive linguists have analyzed how mental models function in human communication and
learning (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980) [One of my favourite books actually)
3. Creation of Longitudinal Databases

The report promotes better teacher education, more interdisciplinary research, and “creating educational engineers.” The last item jumped out at me because I am an ex-engineer now working in education and the way of thinking in engineering and teaching is generally very different, even at the engineering university where I work. I’m not completely convinced that we can apply the same kind of precise mathematical thinking to education, but as a metaphor it may be useful.
The report suggest that “They will have expertise at translating or applying findings from cognitive science and neuroscience to learning in classrooms and other educational settings.”
It’s a nice idea and one that seems worth investigating.
A useful suggestion in this report is ” Asking Grant Holders to Use Shared Measures in their Studies”. There is such wastage and replication within all areas of research because of a lack of standardization. Of course, academic and research freedom is useful, but so too is standardization!


Overall, I didn’t find this report to be useful. It seems to be written as a consensus report trying to bring together researchers in different areas under a common banner of MBE. Perhaps this is useful in sharing research findings and combining different findings. At this point in my reading in this area, it wasn’t really a useful article. Perhaps if it could be chunked into smaller bites, it might be better.

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Review: Dynamic Cycles of Cognitive and Brain Development

Dynamic Cycles of Cognitive and Brain Development

This is an interesting chapter from the book, The Educated Brain, which was published in 2008. Recent research has shown that human development can be better understood as a dynamic process rather than a fixed set of development phases.

Neurocognitive development should be conceived not as a ladder of successive stages but as a
complex network of interactions and attractors, convergent and divergent paths,
nested cycles, stabilities and instabilities, progressions and regressions, clusters of
discontinuities and stable levels of performance.

The complexity and detail in this quote are a clear sign of the growing recognition that neurological development is a complex dance between genetics and environment, or in more traditional terminology between nature and nurture. A child’s brain does not develop in clear steps forward, but rather jumps backwards and forwards, developing simultaneously in different directions. This reminds me of Steven Pinker’s wonderful book, Words and Rules, in which he discusses the development (and apparent regression) of language by using the example of the past tense. Initially, a child learns all irregular verbs as words (lexis) and says them correctly. However, when the child learns how to form the regular past tense (e.g. adding -ed to the stem of the verb), he/she overgeneralizes this to all verbs including irregular verbs and hence makes mistakes. Eventually the child manages to create the right balance between words and rules. Pinker’s example illustrations several most of the concepts in the quote above including:
– a complex network
-interactions and attractors
– convergent and divergent paths (Rules of grammar can be considered as convergent and Words can be considered as divergent)
– stabilities and instabilities
– progressions and regressions
Interestingly, in the overview to this paper, while Fischer initially suggests that a dynamic model is superior to a level-based model, he then suggests a ten-level developmental scale. While this initially suggested a contradiction to me, I assume that both perspectives (dynamic/cyclical and linear) are necessary to describe cognitive development.
I like the observation that “public expectations about relating brain science to educational practice are running far ahead of the realities of scientific knowledge.” It seems to me that we are still a long way from being able to make clear statements for the classroom, but of course in the meantime this is a fascinating area and just thinking about it can give us great teaching ideas.
The information about the growth of the cortex was completely new to me.

A prime
example is the growth of the cortex, which grows six layers in a cyclical
process of neuron generation and migration, as described by Rakic (1971;
1988). A single growth process thus produces six distinct layers in which
cells for different layers end up with vastly different functions, even
though they are all created by the same process.

To think that something as complex as the cortex can be developed in this way through evolution and to be repeated for every child is a truly wondrous thing. And that we can contemplate the wonder with that same cortex is a higher level of wonder again!
The graphs showing increasing (and sometimes decreasing) pronoun use as age increases is fascinating and is a good illustration of the spurts in performance:

Infants, children,adolescents, and young adults all move through periods when their skills are leaping forward at a fast pace, especially under conditions that support optimal performance (upper line).

and also of the periods in between these spurts:

In more ordinary performance, where they are not pushing the limits of their capacity, they commonly show either linear growth or unsystematic change.
Figure 8.2 is very similar to a figure that Robert introduced in one of his conference presentations. I have added it below:
I am still struggling a little in understanding how these ‘levels’ in the figure are actually realized in practice. Fischer helpfully answers part of my question by noting that a child’s development does not actually follow this linear progress for all skills simultaneously. Rather, people develop in a web-like manner with many strands progressing at the same time, all of which could be travelling at different speeds. In addition, people can regress or perform at lower levels than expected if the context is not supportive.
Fischer gives a detailed explanation of the development from single abstractions to abstract mappings all the way up to principles. I must confess to getting a bit lost in some of these explanations ;)
It is very interesting that spurts in EEG energy seem to correspond to the ages for cognitive spurts.
The description of the development of the cortex is also useful, especially:
The prefrontal cortex leads
the way, since empirical evidence indicates that the large majority of
systematic changes with age in networks involve connections between the
prefrontal cortex and other regions.

Figure 8.10 is also interesting and I have reproduced it below.
It is useful to see that skill level naturally rises and drops cyclically and that it is not anything that we are doing wrong in the classroom ;)

The collapses do not indicate difficulties. Instead they are normal and
required, reflecting the need to build and rebuild a skill with variations so
that the person can eventually sustain it in the face of changes in context
and state.

The section on p145-146 is illuminating in warning about the potential dangers of brain science claims for education. The researchers used their data to claim that no learning could occur during particular development phases and so no new concepts should be introduced at these times. This kind of prescriptive approach can clearly be dangerous, especially in our current state of knowledge, and without a clear understanding of individual education contexts.
Overall, I found this paper useful in understanding the development of the human brain over time. 


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Review: Hypnosis – A Guide for Patients and Practitioners

This is a much more conservative and traditional book on hypnosis than many books that are aimed more directly at NLP folk. Watson aims this book primarily at doctors, dentists, and other health professionals who are interested in using hypnosis as an additional therapy in their arsenal. This focus on health professionals makes sense because the book was originally published in 1981 as part of a series called Medicine Today.
Chapter 6, When to Use Hypnosis, is especially useful for health professionals and others who are interested in using hypnosis in facilitating health. It explains the use of hypnosis in medical terms for ailments such as anxiety, pyschosomatic illnesses, phobias, obsessional illness, neuroses, problems of personality, and addictions. The rather traditional and old-fashioned approach of the book is most exemplified by the section on “the sexual variations” with suggestions on how aversion therapy can be used to overcome homosexuality. It is a long time since 1981 and the contemporary concept of gay marriage presumably wasn’t on Watson’s mind 31 years ago 🙂
The book also includes a history of hypnosis, an attempt at providing a physiological explanation of how it works, an outline of some simple induction techniques, and a description of authoritarian/permissive techniques.
The book feels quite updated at this point but can still provide an interesting perspective on hypnosis, especially for health professionals or NLP practitioners working with health professionals in some capacity.

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Review: The Bluffer's Guide to Life Coaching

I loved this little book. It’s only 86 pages but manages to cover a lot of the important issues in a life-coaching in a humourous, but also useful way.
It touches some of the important questions about life-coaching such as “what life coaches don’t do”. The author points out that most life coaches define themselves by what they are not, rather than what they are. Life coaching is not therapy… life coaching is not about the past … life coaching is not about telling you the answer. For a life-coach, it certainly is a rather interesting way to define oneself as it certainly doesn’t match the positively stated requirement for an NLP well-formed outcome.
The book briefly and humourously skips through the origins of life coaching, the life coach’s tool bag, life coaches and life events, life coaching specialisms, life coaching qualifications, and more. Some of it is very useful for people to understand what a life coach does. Other sections are useful for life coaches to see how an intelligent outsider can view them.
All in all, certainly worth the 99 cents that I paid for it at an online bookstore. A fast read and lots of fun.

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Review: Healers on Healing

This is one of a collection of old books that I bought from an online second-hand book store. As people seem to be reading less and less, there are some incredible bargains going, particularly on old books. I think I paid 99 cents for this book.
This is a lovely collection of essays by healers from many different modalities. Some of the healers come from rather alternative areas such as Native American spiritual healing, while others are practicing medical doctors who talk about their work in more holistic terms than the average doctor.
The book is divided into eight sections:

  1. Love is the Healer
  2. Returning to Wholeness
  3. The Healer Within
  4. The Healing Relationship
  5. The Role of the Healer
  6. The Healing Attitude
  7. Consciousness and the Healing Response
  8. Healing as our Birthright

Most of the essays emphasize the power of the human body to self-heal in the right conditions. Many also emphasize the power of the healing relationships – simply being with the person fully and completely, listening to them, and helping them to resolve inner conflicts. Most of the healers note that no particular modality of healing is necessarily (even their own), but rather than the human body heals itself when it is allowed the appropriate conditions.
Another common theme, or Golden Thread as the book terms it, is that healing is more than curing the body of whatever ailment is affecting it. A person can be healed and still die of cancer, but the death can be transformed from one of hatred and disconnectedness into a death of acceptance and love.
The afterword of the book finishes with the lovely summarizing paragraph:

“Perhaps the greatest gift our authors have given us is an enhanced sense that we are all healers. Effective healing does not necessarily stem from an increased education or mastery of technique. Rather, healing can take place when one or more persons open their hearts and spirits to the gifts they already possess.”

Blog Hypnosis NLP Reviews

Review: Fundamentals of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy : A 13-hour Course with the Masters

This is a fine collection of five videos (a total of 13 hours) about Ericksonian hypnosis and is  recommended for anyone who wants to take their knowledge of Ericksonian hypnosis beyond the Milton Model and to explore the richness of Ericksonian work that has not been integrated into NLP.
There is so much on these videos including inductions, accessing resources, deepening trance, utilizing trance, and so much more. I particularly enjoyed Stephen Langton and Stephen Gilligan’s sections, but it is all highly useful and I will be watching it again from the beginning.
It appears to be still available here and I have reproduced the description below from that website.
This program was presented at the Tenth International Congress on Ericksonian Approaches to Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, December 2-5, 2007, Phoenix, Arizona
Fundamental Hypnosis – Level 1
Induction Techniques
Stephen Lankton, M.S.W., DAHB
Lecture, demonstration and practice workshop go step-by-step through the phases of trance induction. Differences between well-known methods are explained.
Fundamental Hypnosis – Level 2
Ideodynamic Approaches to Therapeutic Hypnosis
Ernest Rossi, Ph.D.
Group and individual demonstrations of basic ideodynamic approaches to therapeutic hypnosis utilizing Rossi’s innovative activity-dependent work with hand signaling.
Fundamental Hypnosis – Level 3
Getting a Good Trance Going
Betty Alice Erickson, M.S., LPC
Various trance inductions are demonstrated with volunteers. Each induction is discussed with indications for its uses. Differences between formal and conversational trances are demonstrated with rationales for choosing each.
Fundamental Hypnosis – Level 4
Accessing and Contextualizing Resources in Hypnosis
Michael Yapko, Ph.D.
Erickson’s approach typically featured finding hidden personal resources and extending them into situations where they would help the client. This basic but valuable strategy is shown in a video clip of Dr. Erickson. A structured practice session follows.
Fundamental Hypnosis – Level 5
Use of the Therapist’s Self in Hypnotherapy
Stephen Gilligan, Ph.D.
This workshop describes how a therapist can join a client’s reality to hypnotically generate a “therapeutic trance” that includes both the problem and resources, as well as the client’s and the therapist’s perspectives. In this way, a therapeutic trance is one that “transcends yet includes” the client’s problem in a way that allows new freedoms and possibilities.

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Review: Innovations in NLP for Challenging Times

Review: Innovations in NLP for Challenging Times
by L.Michael Hall & Shelle Rose Charvet

The field of NLP has been split pretty badly since Richard Bandler and John Grinder went their separate ways. Bandler and Grinder hold completely different standards for NLP Practitioner Certification and other qualifications, so the field naturally shows the same discrepancy in standards and abilities of practitioners.
Simultaneously, there have been numerous new developments in NLP over the last 20-30 years and sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether they are to be considered new areas of study/business or whether they are an extension of the basic concepts of NLP. To some degree, NLP is always going to suffer from this distinction because there is no clear distinction between the modelling that constitutes NLP and the techniques that it models and then later can incorporate into the NLP model itself. For example, many of the techniques modelled from Virginia Satir and Milton Erickson have become basic NLP techniques and concepts, although some NLP people might argue that what was important was the modelling process itself, and not the results.
A book like this, Innovations in NLP for Challenging Times, goes some way towards resolving both of these issues, and Michael Hall and Shelle Rose Charvet are to be greatly commended on the scope of their vision and the clean execution of a book that draws together ideas and concepts from a large number of very diverse thinkers in the field of NLP
Over the last 10 years, I have tried to keep abreast of what is happening in the field of NLP, and I wish that this book had been available for me. Rather than burrowing around on multiple websites and other books to find out about Metastates, provocative therapy, symbolic modelling and much much more, this book offers a large number of these ideas in a well-presented and highly readable style.
I recommend this book to anyone who has a good grounding of the traditional ideas of NLP and wants to see how the field has moved forward. The presentation of the ideas in this book is more coherent than the complex and rich real world of NLP, but a book like this offers a map, which is not the territory, but sure is useful in showing how the true potential of NLP could be realized.