NLP Techniques

Practitioners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a.k.a. the "science of subjective experience", have produced a number of techniques that can be used to describe the strategies used by highly effective people.

Essentially, experts are carefully studied and analyzed (or modeled in NLP parlance) as a way to make conscious and unpack the mental strategies they used to get expert results. Once the strategies are decoded, they are the available for others to enhance their own expertise. Milton Erickson, the well known hypnotherapist, and Virginia Satir, one of the world's best known family therapist were among those who were modeled by NLP practitioners.

Interestingly, it appears that people can be modeled even after they have died! A case in point: Robert Dilts (one of the creators of NLP) recently modeled Walt Disney. He studied his writings, observed films of him doing his work and interviewed people that worked with him. From this he extracted the Disney Creativity Model, which will be briefly described below.

The basis strategy for modeling people is to either observe them while performing or to have them mentally go back to a time when they were performing extremely well, and to have them describe (while reliving a particular moment of great human performance) the thought patterns, physiology and context that supported the performance

The modeler might also choose to elicit a strategy that lead to poor performance or a failure to get the same results as a "counter model." This is done to provide a contrast that clearly points out the distinctions between the two states of "success" and "failure". NLP provides a set of linguistic and observational tools that ensure useful descriptions and models.

Walt Disney

Dilts concluded that Walt Disney moved through three distinct states when he produce his work. Dilt's called them Dreamer, Realist and Critic. Each of these three stages have a distinct physiology and thought patterns and can be consciously employed by individuals who want to improve their creative performance.

It is beyond the scope and mandate of this FAQ to elaborate any further on Dilt's work. If you want more information, consult his books: "Tools for Dreamers" and "Skills for the Future". Details are in FAQ Part 1.


NLP techniques are also useful to help you remember, at an instant, what psychological state you must be in to be creative. NLP practitioners can "anchor" a particular state in which you are most creative. In fact, you anchor these state yourself. Many people have to be in a certain room, or standing or walking, or in some particular context in order to be creative. The context is the anchor that reminds you mind/body to be creative.

A Demo on using NLP As An Aid to Creativity

The next time you find yourself creative, e.g. you are noticing it easy to generate a lot of ideas or you finding it easy to elaborate on an idea, notice the position of your body and observe the context in which you are operating Record as much as you can about how you "made yourself" creative. You can then use that information (the more details the better) to set the state for being creative in the future, i.e. put yourself in a matching body posture and in a similar particular context as before.

Another technique is to make a tape recording of everything that is going on in your mind and body when you are being creative. If you're with someone else, have them tell you everything they noticed you doing. (Tell them to focus on behaviors, not interpretations of the behavior, e.g. the observation "you were smiling" is not as useful as "the corners of you mouth were turning upwards"). Then, listen carefully to their report and use that information to recreate the context the next time you want to be creative.

A Caution And An Invitation

Keep in mind, the suggested activities outlined in the last two paragraphs do not, in any way, do justice to the sophistication of NLP techniques. If you're interested in NLP as a way to enhance your creative potential, read, talk with those who know a lot about NLP, and find a good trainer.

Other NLP Resources Web site.

NLP FAQ and Resources The home of the alt.psychology.nlp newsgroup.

. NLP and DHE Neuro-linguistic programming and design human engineering.

Last updated: 25th October 1996