NLP Meta Model Technique

The NLP Meta Model is a set of language patterns that reconnects the deletions, distortions and generalisations that occur in everyday language use with the experience that generated them. Recovers them from the deep structure.


  • To gather information
  • Clarify meaning
  • Identify limits
  • Give choices
  • Bring someone out of trance
  • Deletion, distortion and generalisation

Deletion – something important is left out of the sentence. This limits thought and action.

Distortion – Information is twisted in a way that limits choice and leads to unnecessary problems and pain

Generalisations – we create categories or classes from single examples, by chunking (organising information into groups or “chunks”).

The NLP language patterns of Meta Model and Milton Model a

re explained in full, with examples and exercises for you to complete in our live NLP Training Courses and in our NLP e-Learning series


Meta Model v Milton Model

Meta Model is used to bring people out of trance, Milton Model used to induce trance.


Meta Model v Milton Model
Meta Model 3
Directed questioning for a specific result.

Ask the following questions:

Whats wrong?
What caused this problem?
How have you failed to resolve this?
How can you overcome the solution to your problem?
What would you like to change?
When will you stop it from being a limitation?
How many ways do you know you have solved this?
State – I know you are changing and seeing things differently.

…and confirm.

This is an NLP Master Practitioner subject and is taught by Excellence Assured in our NLP training online at our e-Learning centre.



NLP Meta Model responses – How to use the Meta Model
The Meta model

“Life is not what it is supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way that you cope with it is what makes the difference”. – Virginia Satir.

As we communicate in words, we delete, distort and generalise the deep structure of our subjective experience; this increases confusion, miscommunication and misunderstanding. The Meta model was the first formal NLP pattern, and was heavily influenced by the work of family therapist Virginia Satir, who was the subject of modellng by Bandler and Grinder. Their work subsequently appeared in the published work “The structure of magic, volume 1”. The Meta model can be considered almost as a polar opposite of the Milton model; being utilised as a powerful tool for reconnecting the deletions, distortions and generalisations. This model is highly effective when used as a questioning process to clarify ambiguity, vagueness and for garnering essential, specific information. The clear benefits of this process is that it brings unforeseen choices to light, significantly clarifying meaning and identifying hitherto unknown self imposed restrictions in the process. It should be noted however that care must be taken when utilising Meta model questions; rapport often being a pre-requisite for success. There is a danger of being perceived as challenging, aggressive and intrusive when using this model – questions should be skilfully framed and combined with an appropriate voice tone, tonal emphasis and, of course…properly paced.

Whilst seeking clarification it is important that the Meta model is not used excessively to specify everything to the nth degree, as seeking to clarify things to the smallest detail will only lead to inflexible thinking – which would obviously be counterproductive; subsequently derailing what is essentially a solution focussed process.


“I am fed up with everything!” – (universal generalisation)

Meta model response = “You are fed up with everything? Surely there are some things that you are not fed up with?”

“I have failed the exam” – (unspecified verb)

Meta model response = “How exactly did you fail the exam?”

“They are important to me” – (deletion)

Meta model response = “Who specifically is important to you?”

We will explore the same paragraphs that were included in the examples of Milton model language patterns; the direct comparison of which will outline the way in which the Meta model seeks, almost as a polar opposite effect, to chunk down the order of thinking and thus gain specificity.


Meta model responses;

As I am sitting here, in this chair, in my living room, typing this self reflection, now, I am gaining (1. “Gaining? How does that happen?” – unspecified verb distortion) more and more knowledge and learning (2. “How do you know you are gaining knowledge & learning?” – lost performative generalisation) with regard to the ways in which I can access my own unconscious mind (3. “Are you? What would happen if you werent?”- modal operator generalisation)… aren’t I? I know (4. “How do you know?” – mind read distortion) now no nosey person knows no boundaries (5. “No nosey person knows boundaries? None at all?” – presupposition distortion) when wondering what I am doing the course is fun (6. “Says who?” – lost performative generalisation) Now and then as I wonder about all language forms (7. “Every language form?” – universal quantifier generalisation) and ask, do you understand what I mean…….or do you not? And they will (8. “Who will? – simple deletion) eventually (9. “What will they do, and how will they do it?” – lack of referential index deletion), either now, or later…(10. “What would happen if they didn’t?” – modal operator of possibility generalisation).
The wonderful thing about this insightful training (1. What makes it wonderful, who says so?” – lost performative generalisation) is that, sooner or later it enables my growth (2. “How does it enable growth, what is the process?” – cause effect distortion), and the ability to help myself …and do other things too. (3. “What other things?” – simple deletion). And as I am thinking about it (4. “Thinking about what” – simple deletion), everyone does (5. “Everyone, is there nobody that’s doesn’t? – universal quantifier generalisation)…now or later (6. “what leads you to think that they will get it at all?”- presupposition distortion). I enjoy watching all the videos are really very good (7. “All of the videos, every single one? – Universal quantifier generalisation), and just as I know you know that grass can whisper (8. “Grass can whisper? How do you know that I know that?” – Mind read distortion) I can participate in the exercises, and write them better, right with the right intentions (9. “Better than who or what?” – Comparative deletion)….don’t I? (10. “What would happen if you didn’t?” – modal operator generalisation).
If you think about it, then you will realise (1. “How will I realise, how do you know that?” – cause & effect distortion) all people (2. “All people…everyone?” – universal quantifier generalisation) will reveal the way in which they are actually thinking, like you are now (3. “What lets you know that I am thinking that now?” – mind read distortion), by observing the directions in which their eyes always move around a lot whilst people talk! (4. “What would happen if their eyes didn’t, what would you do?” – modal operator generalisation). It’s new (5. “What is new”? – Simple deletion), I never knew that before, but now I do know it now, no? (6. “Well do you, or not?”- unspecified verb deletion) isn’t that more wonderful than before! (7.”Compared to when?” – comparative deletion). To realise that you can learn these things (8. “What would happen if you couldn’t?” – modal operator generalisation ) at my age is good. But then, I know that you where thinking about that now….(9. “How do you know that?” – mind read distortion). I will learn more about this phenomenon. In fact I can study it further right now (10. “Right now…how specifically are you going to do that?”- unspecified verb deletion)…or maybe later…but I will…eventually.
Milton Erickson used trance on all of the people that he met (1. “All of the people he met? Every single one throughout his entire life?” – universal quantifier generalisation), for the good of them and posthumously the good of mankind to make them feel better through his recorded teachings (2. “How did what he do in his teachings make them feel better?” – cause effect distortion). As I ponder this now I realise that is wonderful….is it not? To be able to access his work through this work works in all walks of work, or it would work…if only they knew (3. “Who knew?” – simple deletion). Indeed, that reminds me…when I was young I used to work in a newspaper print shop I knew a man. We lacked communication (4. “Why did you not communicate well?” – nominalisation distortion), but he taught me a lot of things…like how carry out maintenance on the machines. He also knew how to play the accordion. It is bad to be critical (5. “Says who? Why is it bad to criticise?” – lost performative generalisation), but it is a strange, but expansive instrument. My grandfather also played the accordion…and he was also a talented woodworker. He never knew what to say to me, he would become quiet and reflective…maybe he didn’t like me (6 “Why do you believe that just because he was quiet that he didn’t like you?” – complex equivalence distortion). Even though he may not have cared for my company (7. “How do you know that he didn’t care for your company?”- unspecified verb deletion) he used to make fabulous furniture and turnings on his lathe in his shed; sheds are so useful for many things to humble, working class people…like he was. But I digress…..! Wood is a living material, even after it has been felled. If only they knew that plants and trees have feelings (8.”If only who knew?” – lack of referential index deletion)….if so, can you imagine the pain inflicted upon a tree as it is chopped down? Did you know that…..I was eventually going to discuss the feelings of trees? Perhaps it is prudent, after all trees that have been transformed into paper by men of old from a better vanished time (9. “How do you know was it better back then, were there no worse times?” – comparative deletion), supported the written word, and therefore preserved history and all types of knowledge. Now you know, now about what I have said… (10. “How do you know I have understood what you have said right now?”- Mind read nominalisation). The meaning of life is the thing that gives meaning to your life….

We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) relating to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

What is NLP?

In simple terms, Neuro Linguistic programming (NLP) is a series of models, techniques and strategies to help us better understand how the language we use influences the way we think and the results we get!

How can I benefit from using NLP?

NLP can have a positive effect on every aspect of your life. It can be used to move forward with some specific challenge or issue, or can be adopted more generically to make a difference to all areas of your life.

ANLP has many case studies and success stories detailing how NLP has helped clients, organisations and educational establishments with specific challenges over the years.

How does NLP work?

Have you ever done something so elegantly and effectively that it took your breath away? Have you had times where you were delighted at what you did and wondered how you did it?

NLP shows you how to understand and model your own successes, so that you can reproduce them. It is a way of discovering and unfolding your personal genius, a way of bringing out the best in yourself and others.

NLP is the study of excellence. It is the study of both the conscious and unconscious processes that combine to enable people to do what they do. The key to success is often unknown at a conscious level. Using NLP, you can elicit these unknown pieces.

You may want to improve your relationships, or eliminate an anxiety, or become more competitive in the market place. The key pieces are not found in the muscles, but in your inner thoughts, like words or pictures, or feelings or even beliefs. Once you know these unknown pieces you can change them. NLP exercises are like thought experiments, mental exercises or a game. The laboratory is your mind.

How did NLP develop?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming was first defined by Dr Richard Bandler (a Mathematician) and John Grinder (an Associate Professor of Linguistics) working together at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the early 1970s at a time of rapid development in the humanities field.

They asked the important question "What is it that makes the difference between somebody who is merely competent and someone who excels at the same skill?" and decided to model various people in order to discover the answers. It just so happens that the three people they chose to model were the outstanding therapists, Fritz Perls (Gestalt Therapy), Virginia Satir (Family Therapy) and Milton Erickson (world renowned psychiatrist who gave his name to a form of hypnosis). They could just as easily have modelled outstanding businessmen or scientists.

Richard Bandler and John Grinder modelled their language, physiology and mental processes and then identified patterns (rather than theories) which could be explicitly taught. NLP also drew on many existing fields of study including the work of Chomsky in linguistics, of Korsybski in general semantics, Ashby in systems thinking and many, many others.

Do I need an NLP trainer or an NLP professional?

That depends on what you hope to achieve.

If you would like one to one support to achieve a specific goal or deal with a particular challenge in your life, then you may like to consider visiting an NLP professional (a Practitioner or Master Practitioner).

If you would like to learn more about NLP, either for your own personal development or because you are considering a career change or additional career, then you are looking for an NLP trainer. You can then attend some NLP training and become a qualified Practitioner yourself.

How do I choose a good NLP professional?

For starters, make sure any NLP professional you are considering working with belongs to the Professional Body, so you have something to fall back on and they have a self-regulatory framework to base their business upon.

ANLP offers you impartial guidance on choosing either an NLP professional or an NLP trainer and strongly advises that you do your due diligence before engaging their services.

How much does an NLP session cost?

The cost of an NLP session will vary depending on whether you are having a 1-2-1, group or a training session as part of a longer course. Prices will also vary based on the skill and specialization of the Practitioner… a single session may be as little as £50 and a course can be over £3,000.

We recommend you use our ANLP resources to select the right NLP professional for you and that you understand how much you will be charged per session or for the course before you commit.

By searching on our site and using an ANLP Member, you will be assured that the person you select is qualified, as they state on their profile, as either an NLP Practitioner, Master Practitioner, Trainer, or ANLP Accredited Trainer from an ANLP-recognised NLP School.

NOTE: If you are looking for NLP training and to learn NLP as a practitioner, we do NOT recommend that you use online courses to learn NLP as the quality and depth of training offered is, in our professional opinion, not adequate to certify you as an NLP practitioner with ANLP. As the internationally recognized, independent body of NLP Professionals, ANLP does not endorse or recognize ANY online-only NLP courses.

Where do I start?

If you are interested in engaging an NLP professional to support you through a particular issue, then we suggest you start by looking at our guide for choosing a good NLP professional.

If you are wondering if NLP is a good fit for your organization or workplace, then start by reading our guide for using NLP at work.

If you are thinking about training in NLP for yourself, then start by looking at our guide for choosing a good NLP trainer.

If you are curious and want to know a bit more about NLP before diving in, then do have a look at our case studies and recommended book list, both of which can help you to make informed decisions about whether or not NLP is right for you.

Is there any research to prove NLP works?

For many years, there was very little research around NLP. That is changing and there is a growing body of evidence to support the roots of NLP practice and various specific strategies and techniques used within NLP practices.

There is also a growing body of research particularly in the education field, funded by the Education Development Trust (formerly CfBT). We feature their research papers, and others, on our Research Pages.

The first NLP Research Journal was published by NLPEA  in 2009 and was launched at the House of Commons in January 2010.

In the States, the Research and Recognition Project focuses on PTSD and trauma protocols and continues to campaign for funded research into these particular areas.

What about online courses in NLP?

We think online courses, in NLP, such as Udemy, are one of many great ways to discover more about NLP and what it can do for you...

We also strongly believe that if you have more than a passing interest in NLP and want to use it to build your own practice or enhance existing client-led services, it is so important to learn your NLP practice face to face, in a live training environment and dealing with real people.

NLP is an experiential subject and practicing NLP is an essential part of any certification when you want to work with others.

There is a big difference between 'online' courses and 'virtual' courses. Due to the pandemic in 2020, NLPEA's Accreditation panel and advisors explored ways of safely delivering NLP training in a virtual setting, resulting in the ANLP Criteria for Virtual Training. If your NLP Training meets all these live training requirements, you can still apply for membership of NLPEA.

What is NLP


What is NLP


What is NLP



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