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….

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