NLP Now – The History, Where NLP started

In the USA in the early 1970’s a young computer student was studying at the University of California in Santa Cruz, his name was Richard Bandler. He was studying mathematics, computing and later his interests turned to behavioral sciences.

Richard Bandler found accommodation with the founder of Gestalt Therapy, Fritz Perls. Perls had lots of books and transcripts in his library on psychology, which Bandler read avidly. In the same district was a lady by the name of Virginia Satir, the family therapist that broke the conventional way of thinking and treating people. She saw clients not as people with individual problems, but as people coming from a family, a whole unit, and she treated the whole unit with great success.

Bandler was asked to help Virginia Satir, to take her to venues etc, and he watched what she did, and noticed that she had certain ways of doing her work, her methods of treatment and talking to people. He also noticed that he could identify these and reproduce them to great effect. He realised that there was a problem, he did not quite understand the linguistics that she used. Bandler approached a lecturer at the university to help him understand the structure of the language. This linguist was John Grinder. Grinder was studying the works of the linguist Noam Chomsky.

Both John Grinder and Richard Bandler agreed to work together, Bandler observing the strategies the methods people were using to interact with their world, and Grinder supervising Bandler and analyzing the language patterns.

They began to draw around them a group of people who understood and wanted to participant what Bandler and Grinder were doing, as Richard ran and taught Gestalt Therapy classes at Kresge Collage within the University of California.

As they observed behaviors and strategies, they learnt how to reproduce the same for themselves, and then teach others. This is one of the cornerstones in NLP, that the strategy should be identifiable, to be reproduced and to be taught to others. 

Some of these people who gathered around Bandler and Grinder were, Judith Delozier, Leslie Camerin, Robert Dilts, Eric Robbie.

These people plus others would meet on a weekly basis with Bandler and Grinder leading, studying tapes of Perls and Satir, and mostly under the guidance of Bandler practiced and developed the Metal Model, Language Patterns, Deep and Surface Structures, The Map and Territory relationships, Reframing and more were developed.

Bandler had another neighbour, Gregory Bateson, who knew what work Bandler was achieving, and suggested that they visited and studied Milton H. Erikson of Phoenix, Arizona.

Milton Erikson is perhaps the best known hypnotist, hypnotherapist the world has ever known. His strategies for working with clients was mostly through stories, metaphors, which would send people into a trance very quickly, after which Milton would do his work.

It was here that reframing progressed and more work was done on the representational systems developed, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory, the whole story of how behavioural systems and accessing cues began coming together. 

Experiments were undertaken with hypnosis, hallucination and deep trance identification. These were especially important with deep trance identification with, Bateson, Satir, Perls and Erickson, they found that could understand these great people so much more. This was so great that they often felt as if they were the person.

Other work was studied and developed from the work of Ivan Pavlov and his experiments with dogs in Russia.  (see Svengali and The Manchurian Candidate blog, click). From this work came anchoring.

Word of NLP started to spread and from about 1976, people who had worked with Bandler started to do their own workshops and books on the subject were being published, The Structure of Magic I, and II, et al.

Although born around the therapeutic work of such people as Bateson, Satir, Perls and Erickson, NLP methodologies are equally applicable to the business world, politics, education, personal life, it has been employed by the military. NLP translates and crosses all boundaries.

Much has been said about Bandler and Grinder, do you believe everything you read in the newspapers? They both went their separate ways at the end of the 1970’s. I have worked with both and love them both for their kindness, knowledge and what they have given the world. 

Welcome to the world of NLP.

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