New NLP Models from the Netherlands

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Like NLP trainers from many countries, the trainers of the IEP (Institute for Eclectic Psychology) in the Netherlands have, over the years, developed several new NLP models and applications. This document describes a few of them in some detail, for the benefit of colleagues interested in new developments:

  • The Inside/Outside Model
  • The Social Panorama
  • The I Wonder Strategy
  • The Nano Tech Power Deck
  • Pragmagics
  • The NLP Lifeboat
  • MindSonar – MetaProfile Analysis




Like NLP trainers from many countries, the trainers of the IEP (Institute for Eclectic Psychology) in the Netherlands have, over the years, developed several new NLP models and applications. This document describes a few of them in some detail, for the benefit of colleagues interested in new developments:

  • The Inside/Outside Model
  • The Social Panorama
  • The I Wonder Strategy
  • The Nano Tech Power Deck
  • Pragmagics
  • The NLP Lifeboat
  • MindSonar – MetaProfile Analysis


The Inside/Outside Model

(Dutch: ’Binnen-Buiten Model’)
Developed by Dutch psychologist and NLP trainer Anneke Meijer, is specifically designed for the solution of problems in relationships.

The model presupposes that – barring physical abuse – other people can only have an undesired effect on our emotional state if there is a ’resonating’ or ’corresponding’ part within ourselves. In other words: the behaviours of another person must activate important existing aspects of our model of the world, in order to change our emotional state. Carl Jung had described this, when he said: “The arrows that wound us most, are the ones fired at bus from the ambush of our own unconscious”.

The technique stemming from this model (usually also referred to as ’the Inside/Outside Model’) involves identifying and communicating with this resonating or corresponding part. The technique is a special application of the general principles of ’Communicating with a Part’. Some of the steps are the same as – or very similar to – steps in Six Step Reframing.

The steps involved are:

  1. Define the disturbing behaviour in the other person.
  2. Think of a moment when someone said or did something that disturbed you, e.i. irritated you, saddened you, infuriated you, depressed you, or similar emotional effects.
  3. Find the corresponding part within yourself.This would be the part that is just like the disturbing other person, or the part that would like to be like this person or the part that enjoys or endorses what the other person does. Concentrate on you inner experience and say: “I would like to communicate with the part of me (or the part of my un conscious mind) that is just like this other person. Or the part of me that would like to be like that person, or the part that agrees with what that person does or that endorses it.” Any ensuing images, feelings, sounds or words may be responses from the part, just as in Six Step Reframing.
  4. Find the positive intentions of this part.
    This step may involve more acceptance of the part and understanding how it defends personal boundaries, achieves valued goals, etc.
  5. Find behavioural alternatives.
    Defining what alternative behaviours the corresponding part – often in cooperation with other creative parts – can find, that will serve the same purpose.
  6. Translate into behaviour (future pace)
    The insights and alternatives are then translated into behaviours towards the disturbing other person. “Next time when you are confronted with this person and his/her behaviour, how can you respond differently?”.
  7. Downside planning and ecology.
  8. Other parts are asked if they have objections. These are integrated – if necessary – along the lines of six step reframing. The behaviour of the other person is then described in a way representing the very pinnacle of disturbance to see whether the new solutions ’hold’.


The Social Panorama

(Dutch: ’Het sociaal panorama’)
Developed by Dutch psychologist and NLP trainer Lucas Derks, the social panorama is designed for the solution of relationship- and social problems. Taking a broader perspective, the social panorama may be viewed as a new basis for social psychology. The model takes the concept of sub modalities, focussing mostly on them spatial component, and applies to to social relationships. The social panorama encompasses beliefs and emotions. This is probably the Dutch NLP model that is best known outside Holland.

To find their way in the social world, people need a mental map. To be of any use, such a map must be a simplified image of the ever changing events that make up their social life. But how simplified, generalised and abstract must it be? The word `relationship’ denotes the relevant level of simplification for a useful social map. A `relation’ is an abstraction of an ongoing series of interactions. `I have a relationship with you’ means, that I brought permanence and stability into my thoughts about our ongoing and ever changing contact. So the question is, how do people represent people on this level of relationships? It appears that the cognitive maps people make, are spatial constructions. The same holds for our social maps. These are structured like an three dimensional inner landscape, composed of abstracted images of people. The abstraction is of such a level that we still can recognise who such an image is representing.
The self is in the center of this ‘social panorama’; all significant people are projected on their own locations around it. The exact locations where the images of others are placed, have proven to be extremely meaningful. This lead up to the social panorama’s maxim: relation equals location. Or more precisely: The quality of a social relation is to a great extend governed by the spot where the image of the person is projected in mental space.

So, while all the real people in the world crawl around in any direction, come and go to finally disappear, this inner landscape of social images shows them as stable objects, even beyond their deaths.

People’s social panoramas are the way they relate to people. They are built from the inside and are basically the filters people use to decide where, in their internal hierarchy, people fit in. For example, do you ‘grade’ a doctor as higher than a medical student – would you accept the diagnosis from the med student as trustingly as from the doctor?


The I Wonder Strategy

(Dutch: ’Ik ben benieuwd hoe…’)
This is a compact technique for involving the unconscious mind in the exploration of conscious issues. Developed by Dutch psychologist and NLP trainer Anneke Meijer after modelling Gene Early, it is a reflection of the idea that “There are things that only the mind can seek, but which, on its own, it will never find. These things only instinct can find, but it will never seek them” (Bergson, 1933).

The steps in this technique are:

  1. Define the process you want to optimise.
    Where does my thinking/feeling/doing become difficult, or stiff or unsatisfactory? Where is it being held up?
  2. Generate images of the present and the desired state.
    Visualise where you are now, regarding this issue – the issue you were representing when your process stiffened or stopped – and where you want to be.
  3. Ask the I Wonder question.
    This involves:

    • A basic attitude of curiosity.
    • An ’upward’, visual physiology: sitting with your back straight, your head high and tilted slightly upward.
    • Looking at an inner screen, like a movie screen or a billboard..
    • Asking the question: “I wonder how….. I can take a next step….. in this process of …..”.
  4. Respect any answer that emerges.

Respect whatever appears or emerges on the screen, or elsewhere in your inner experience. Consider it to be a response to your question. Don’t dismiss any responses as illogical or irrelevant. Take everything that – mentally or emotionally – occurs within minutes of the question seriously.


The Nano Tech Power Deck

(This application was developed in English originally)
Developed by Dutch psychologist and NLP trainer Jaap Hollander, in cooperation with is Graham Dawes, Jennifer DeGandt and Anneke Meijer, is a card game. It was developed to generate unlimited amounts of NLP guidance. It embodies many of the principles and procedures of NLP in a playful format. It is only a deck of cards, and yet it often brings about personal developments and insights that people had wanted, but not achieved before. The Deck helps people, each time in a different way, to achieve goals, to solve problems, to develop personal strengths, to overcome personal weaknesses, to obtain unexpected advice and last but not least: to relate in a new way to the other people they play with.

Essentially, the Nano Tech Deck combines NLP with the old principles of the oracle, as they were passed on to us from Greek, Celtic and Germanic civilisations. The NLP-aspect is represented by the general structure of the game, which has a phase where an issue is defined and a phase of general orientation followed by a series of small change techniques. ‘Nano’ means ‘small’. The techniques are so small that they can be done in a few minutes. The game ends with a systematic future pace. The oracle aspect comes in where a live NLP practitioner would normally determine the general direction the change work should take. In the game this general direction is offered by an oracle system that gives advice on a high level of abstraction. This general direction is developed further by the use of three small change techniques. The change techniques used are called Nano Techniques, ’nano’ meaning ’very small’. A nanosecond for instance, is one billionth of a second. The word Nano Technique refers to a very small NLP-technique that only takes a few minutes. There are 32 different Nano Techniques in the Deck, most of which are adaptations of ’full size’ NLP techniques and can have very similar effects. After having done the three Nano techniques, the player combines the three results. The whole game, including finding an issue to play with, obtaining the advice from the oracle, doing the three Nano Techniques and doing the future pace, takes between fifteen and forty five minutes.

The game progresses through four steps or phases:

  1. The Entrance
  2. Consulting the Life Processes Oracle
  3. Doing Three Nano Techniques
  4. The Future Pace

How can a game be an effective change agent? A game can obviously never offer the relationship, the nonverbal communication and the complexity of a live person. A game can not operate within the TOTE-model. A live person can do that and more. Generally speaking, we would therefore expect a live person to achieve far more in terms of change and

development than a game ever can. That having been said, we have observed that a game like the Nano Tech Power Deck can occasionally be more effective than a live person. We have been surprised by this and we suspect there are interesting lessons to be learned from this observation. We believe it is possible for a game to be an effective change agent because (a) a game maintains, by rules, procedures and spatial markers an often highly complex structure in which relationships between players can take new forms, (b) a game does not respond to unconscious messages to avoid certain issues nor does it qualify its own messages and (c) people have a striking ability to construct a coherent whole from the random elements a game offers them (d) a game uses all of its distinctions, principles and procedures, rather than a limited part of them.



(Dutch name: ‘Pragmagie’)
After having met Brazilian psychiatrist David Akstein, Dutch psychologist and NLP trainer Jaap Hollander embarked on a long modelling voyage that led him to diverse trance rituals. Somewhere along the way he realised that magical practices are the dominant psychotherapeutic method on the planet, both culturally and historically speaking. For what does a person do when they have psychosocial problems they cannot solve? If we look beyond the limits of our own time and culture, we see that the common pattern is to ’take it higher up’. People with problems turn to a priest, a shaman or a witchdoctor in order to enlist the help of spirits, demons, ancestral souls or other powerful non-material entities. The global pattern of goal-directed psychosocial change is not one where a therapist or a doctor speaks with a patient. The dominant pattern is one where a priest or a shaman performs a ritual in order to regulate cosmic energies to the benefit of his client. And this regulation, viewed from the belief systems belonging with it, ensures that the sick will heal, the insecure will gain confidence, the unemployed will find work, marital conflicts are settled, businesses find new customers, unruly children will do what his parents tell them, et cetera. From this perspective he started modelling magic (although this term may not be anthropologically proper for some of the practices we studied). In other words: he started approaching the magical powers of priests, witchdoctors and shamans with the classical NLP-question: `How does he (or she) do it?’. This entailed him going to Brazil to observe Candomble possession rituals, for instance, or to Morocco to observe Gnawa dancers. Based on both his direct experience and his dissociated observation, he endeavoured to define the beliefs, the mental strategies and the overt behaviours of both priest/shaman and believer/client. Subsequently, he translated these `pragmagical patterns’ into structured techniques adapted to our own culture. By using them in `Pragmagics’-workshops in Europe and the USA, he further adapted and refined these techniques.

So what do we end up with when we model magic? To answer this question, we will describe a technique we adapted mainly from a Gnawa ritual. The three main ingredients of this technique are:

  1. Kinetic trance induction
    (Inducing an ecstatic trance using emotional/motorical synesthesia and rhythmic movement on fast drum rhythms)
  2. Association with a non-material (spirit) entity
    (Visualising and entity, giving is submodalities of reality and stepping into it, i.e. going in second position with it)
  3. Oracular communication from a spirit state
    (Observing another person from the `entity-state’ and giving them verbal, metaphorical advice or `energy’ through touch).

As we describe the technique the meaning of this pragmagical jargon will hopefully become more clear to you.


Step 1: Representing the spiritual panorama

The first step in this technique is for the participant (the `dancer’) to form a representation of his personal spiritual panorama. In his mind, he creates an overview of all Gods, spirits, deities, ancestor-souls, cosmic energies, forces of nature, totem animals, universal principles, core states, ghosts or any other non-material entities that play a role in his life. As you can see from our listing, we leave the content entirely up to the dancer. Generally, a dancer’s spiritual panorama will become more densely populated as they do more pragmagics work.

At first they represent the spiritual panorama where it is usually located spontaneously: high above (and sometimes deep below) themselves. Thereupon the dancer is asked to `lower’ his spiritual panorama, bringing it down the level where he is standing. This is the level where normally the social panorama is located. The participant now finds himself in the middle of his spiritual panorama with his spiritual entities around him. The metaphorical metamessage is something like: `You can communicate with these entities on a basis of equal merit’. It is also, in a sense, an integration of two great spiritual traditions. It combines aspects of the traditional spirituality of hunter-gatherer tribes, where a human traveler communicates with the spirits on a basis of equality, with the tradition of agricultural spirituality, where a worshipper’s body is possessed’ or `ridden’ by a spirit. It does not matter whether or not the participant believes these entities are `real’. The issue is representation, not reality. If the representation of the entities releases new resources in the participant, it is a good representation.


Step 2: Realisation of the spiritual entities

In the next step in this technique, the dancer `realises’ his entities. This may sound strange, but what we mean is simply that he gives his representation of the entities submodalities of `realness’. There are submodalities that tell us whether something is real or not. Someone may experience something as real when it has color, it moves visibly and he can touch it. He may experience something as `unreal’ or `a dream’ or `a hallucination’ or `a fantasy’, when it is less colourful, it doesn’t move and he can not touch it. In theory the critical submodalities that distinguish `real’ from `unreal’ can vary greatly depending on the individual, but in actual practice they seem to be the same for most people, although the emphasis can differ:

  • Real: strong, clear colours
    Unreal: vague, dull, pale colours or black-and-white images
  • Real: moving visual image
 Unreal: stationary visual image
  • Real: clear kinaesthetic experience, especially tactile
 Unreal: minimal or no kinesthetics
  • Real: feelings of movement
 Unreal: no feelings of movement
  • Real: close (location)
 Unreal: far away (location)
  • Real: clear or vague smell
 Unreal: no smell

By giving the entities in his spiritual panorama submodalities of realty, the participant can literally `realise’ them, make them more real. The opposite is also true and also important. Some experiences with spirit entities lead to a less resourceful state. In that case the dancer can do the opposite and `derealise’ the entity and all his communications with it, by giving it submodalities of unreality. This is one way out of the `athroloplogists’ trap’ we described earlier and it gives a participant freedom to experiment with pragmagical procedures. We have found that `realisation’ and `derealisation’ work especially well in hindsight. It is certainly possible to change submodalities of reality in `real time’, but it is easier to `realise’ or derealise’ memories.


Step 3: Kinetic trance induction

In the third step in this procedure, the dancer goes into an ecstatic trance. It may sound odd when we put it that simply, but basically going into an ecstatic trance is not difficult or complicated. The dancer simply concentrates on his spiritual panorama, registers his feelings and allows his body to let a a simple movement develop from this. This is emotional/ motorical synesthesia: a feeling is translated into a movement. We have found, by the way, that uncommon synesthesias often play a role in ritual practices. We know a Hungarian shaman. for instance, who is adept in translating emotions into sounds. The movement the dancer develops needs to be easily repeatable, which means that has to be quite simple. In this technique the dancer works together with an `auxilar’, a personal helper who will catch and protect him if necessary and who plays a drum for him. We often have a professional percussionist drum for the whole group simultaneously, distilling a general rhythm from all the individual rhythms produced by the auxilars. As soon as the dancer starts moving, the auxilar, will beat his drum (or rattle his rattle) in the rhythm of the dancer’s movements. He sets up a kinesthetic/auditory loop for the dancer, which is also a way of making rapport. The dancer keeps repeating the same movement to the rhythm of the drum. When the auxilar notices that he has rapport, meaning that the dancer follows slight variations in his drum rhythm, he increases the tempo, that is, he starts drumming faster and faster. This results in a trance state, a kinetic (movement-) trance in which all hypnotic phenomena known to traditional Western hypnosis can occur (we will list these in a later article). By this time, the situation in the pragmagical working space is quite reminiscent of a Gnawa djerdeba.


Step 4: Association with a spiritual entity

Once in a trance, the dancer oversees his spiritual panorama once more, as he has been instructed to do beforehand. He waits until one of the entities approaches him. If this doesn’t happen spontaneously, he invites an entity. We do not specify the manner in which he is to do this, but usually he will simply dance in the direction of an entity. At first he dances together with the entity and he asks the entity to give him advice about his goal (which he has defined at the beginning of the pragmagics session). There upon he steps into the entity. He associates with the entity, goes into second position with it, becomes one with it. That is, if he feels this to be ecologically justified. Once associated, he dances with the movements of the entity. breathes the entities breath, perceives with its senses and understands with its understandings. Some new participants, especially if they have recently watched movies like `The Exorcist’, feel some apprehension about doing this. We interpret this as fear of representations within one’s own bio-psycho-social system, but of course we will not force anyone to do this and consider just representing the entity a valuable option too.


Step 5: The associated oracle

From second position with the entity, being the entity so to speak, the dancer ends his dancing and starts giving advice to other participants. The associated participants stay wherever they are standing or sitting in the room, while the auxilars (who are other participants who will later become dancers) seek them out to receive advice and guidance. The dancers identify the entity from which they speak, observe the other with whatever sensory filters they posses in their entity-state and give their advice. This is a direct, practical application of what we have described in our earlier article about possession trance. The dancer has access to resources they do not normally have entry to, and these resources are strongly contextualised, as soon as they step out of the entity, these resources are no longer active.

We sometimes have associated dancers give three different forms of advice:

  1. Direct suggestion
    They give direct advice.
  2. Metaphorical suggestion
    They tell a story that contains the message
  3. Energetic suggestion

They do not speak, but convey their message through touches and `passes’.

In this stage of the procedure, the situation in the pragmagical working space bears a strong resemblance to an Umbanda terreiro where mediums possessed by the spirit of the `Old Indian’ or the `Old Negro Slave’ give advice to their (non-possessed) fellow believers.


Step 6: Dissociation from the entity

In this final step of the technique, the dancer thanks the entity and says goodbye to it. He steps out of the entity and represents it once more as separate from himself, visualizing it outside himself. The entity is invited to take its place in the spiritual panorama again and the spiritual panorama as a whole is lifted up to its original location high above (or deep below, as the case may be). Usually this is done with a meditative dance on a slow rhythm.

There are several possible issues that can be addressed in this final phase. One possibility is for the dancer to make arrangements with the entity about future cooperation outside the pragmagical space. Another possibility is to generalize and future-pace the different oracular recommendations the dancer has received (from his own entity and from other associated dancers). What is the common denominator in these different pieces of advice? This procedure is similar to the `Resonance pattern’ taught by Robert Dilts. A final issue is future pacing: how precisely will the dancer implement the recommendations he has received in the future? Should there be any disagreeable side-effects, negative emotional states, new limiting beliefs, or ecological problems, the dancer also has the option of `derealizing’ some or all of his experiences by giving them submodalities of unreality. We have also found that negative emotional states resulting from this kind of work are highly probable to disappear after a second round of ecstatic trance, although we don’t understand why this should be so.

With this technique of the `associated oracle’ we have transferred to our own culture, on a modest scale to be sure, some of the magical patterns found in Gnawa, Umabanda and Candomble.


The NLP Lifeboat

(Dutch name: ‘NLP Capsule’)
This is a procedure for simultaneous interpersonal support and bottom-to-top organisational restructuring, developed by Dutch psychologist and NLP trainer Jaap Hollander. A Lifeboat project offers coaching, mentoring and general human support in a small group, meeting bi- weekly within their organisation. When the ship starts keeling over, it’s good to have something that floats. Lifeboat groups (called Crews) consist of six people from different departments and different hierarchical levels of the organisation. In their Lifeboat meetings (called Journeys) they support each other on a human level. As an added result members learn problem solving skills, basic experiential skills and communication skills. Also, they come to better understand each others ways of thinking an feeling, which is an important benefit given that they work in different departments and at different hierarchical levels in their organisation. Lifeboat sessions are conducted in a clearly structured manner, in which roles and methods are precisely defined. They are led by a Lifeboat Chief, who trains the crew in lifeboat procedures.

Presuppositions of the Lifeboat
The Lifeboat project is based on the following three presuppositions:

• Presupposition 1: Human survival is based on (a) tools, (b) intelligence and (c) social organisation. Organisations will achieve more and people will be more effective when they receive human support (social organisation) and have a chance to think problems through systematically and productively (intelligence).

• Presupposition 2. Human thinking consists of sensory representations. Human thinking consists of sensory representations (mental representations of images, sounds, feelings, smells, tastes and movements). A certain train of thought consists of a series of these representations. Humans organise these representations by language, which they use to ascribe meaning to their sensory impressions and memories. Therefore, people will gain new understandings and find new solutions, when they learn to systematically change their inner representations and/or the meanings they ascribe to them. The Lifeboat is a social tool to achieve precisely this.

• Presupposition 3: Organic development is a bottom-to-top affair. Natural development in any organisation emerges from below, rather than being dictated from above. Although there is definitely a place for top-down, centrally organised development, most organic growth occurs as a result of simple patterns being repeated many times at lower organisational levels. Organic, stable, systemic development is most often a bottom-to-top, rather than a top-to-bottom process. Therefore, in order to achieve elegant organisational change, it is best to

  • (a) set up relatively small and simple processes at a low level in the organisation,
  • (b) have these simple processes repeated as many times as possible and
  • (c) let structural change emerge naturally.

    Lifeboat roles
    In the lifeboat meetings, the roles of the crew members (participants) are very clearly defined. Different people will be in different role during different journeys (sessions). These roles are:

  • Role 1. The Traveler
  • The Traveler is the hero of the Lifeboat session. He is the person who formulates a problem he wants to solve. The Traveler describes the problem, the situation in which it most commonly occurs and how he would like to be different when the same circumstances occur in the future. He mentally steps into the problem situation and specifies his experience; he describes in minute detail what he sees, hears, imagines, thinks, feels, says and does. The other Crew members assist the Traveler in this. After the rest of the Crew have processed the problem, the Traveler listens to their advice with an open mind and mentally tries out the solutions they present him with.
  • Role 2 and 3: The Pilot of Experience and The Pilot of Meaning
  • The Pilots help the Traveler to clarify the problem and to find solutions. They first help the Traveler to precisely specify his experience in the problem situation. Then they identify with the Traveler; they ’take on’ the Traveler’s experience. Having done this, they go into a creative state and ask themselves: “What would I do, when I experienced this?”, “How would I solve this?”. They allow answers to emerge from their unconscious as well as their conscious minds. They give the Traveler their advice.
  • Role 4: The Ghost
  • The Ghost’s task is to register the Traveler’s emotional state and any unconscious messages that he expresses nonverbally. To this end the Ghost sits or stands next to the Traveler and precisely mirrors the Traveler’s body posture, movements, gestures, facial expressions, breathing rhythm, etc. The Ghosts registers the thoughts and feelings that result from these nonverbal expressions for him or her and comments on them. Like the Pilots, the Ghosts gives the Traveler suggestions for solutions.
  • Role 5: The Tail gunner
  • The Tail gunner has two tasks. 1. He protects the Lifeboat against interruptions from the outside and 2. He does everything within his power to ridicule the goals and solutions the Traveler selects. This inoculates the Traveler against doubts and negative expectations encountered after the Lifeboat session.
  • Role 6. The ChiefThe Chief’s task is to steer the Crew safely and productively through the Journeying Format. He helps the Crew to help the Traveler. The Chief actively structures and coordinates the activities of the Crew. He keeps a record of the Lifeboat’s journeys and monitors the Traveler’s progress in solving the problem in daily working life. The Chief stimulates Lifeboat Loyalty as best he can. Eventually, the Chief asks the Crew to invite new members and when they are ready to form a new Lifeboat, he appoints a Chief for it.

    Procedure: The Journeying Format
    The procedure with which the Crew helps the Traveller solve his problem, is defined in the Journeying Format. The Journeying Format is a sequence of steps which lead to the clarification and solution of a problem. It is the systematic problem-solving method the Crew uses. In addition to this standard Journey, the Lifeboat also has special procedures (called ’Excursions’) for special categories of problems, like unclear outcomes, inner conflict or limiting beliefs. The Journeying Format is divided into six steps (as most NLP-techniques traditionally are) and proceeds as follows, using the roles described earlier:

  • The Chief discusses which Crew members will take which roles for the current Journey. He briefly summarises the tasks for each role and the Journeying Format. He asks for a confirmation from each Crew member.
  • Step 2: The Traveller describes a problem and the Pilots help him or her clarify it.
  • The Traveller describes his problem. He describes the situation in which it occurs and how he would like to be different when they occur again in the future. He mentally steps into the problem situation and specifies his experience; he describes in minute detail what he sees, hears, imagines, thinks, feels, says and does. The Pilot of Experiences asks the Traveller questions to help with the specification. The Pilot of Meaning asks questions that help the Traveller specify the meanings of these experiences. All Crew members have cue-cards which spell out some of the questions they may ask. The Ghost mentions any relevant emotions and other nonverbal signals he picks up by mirroring the Traveller. At this point the Tail gunner may already suggest that the Traveller will never be able to solve the problem.
  • Step 3: The Pilots identify with the Traveller and seek solutions
  • When they have enough information to be able to step into the Traveller’s experience, the Pilots elicit a creative state in themselves and think about solutions for a few minutes. In their creative state, the Pilots may seek contact with the Wholeness or Spirit of Unity that is an important aspect of their spirituality. They may use this to receive healing energy and ideas. On the one hand, many of the solutions that the Pilots come up with will be relevant to the Traveller, because they are based on a precise sensory specification of the Traveller’s experience. On the other hand the solutions will be different from what the Traveller has come up with himself, simply because the Pilots have different perceptions and different life experiences.

Suggestion phase
After they have thought about if for a few minutes, the Pilots and the Chief stand behind the Traveller and make contact again with any spiritual forces they are in touch with. In a state of wholeness they put heir hands lightly on his shoulders and give as many suggestions as they can. At the same time they visualise a stream of healing, inspiring energy flowing into the body of the Traveller. Because of the large number of suggestions, some of them will be remembered by the Traveller, while others go straight into the Traveller’s unconscious. It is often funny to hear how someone who was the Traveller in a Journey, reports in a following Lifeboat session that he has spontaneously come up with a solution or an idea, while hiss fellow crew members recognise it as one of the suggestions that were given to him in a previous session.

  • Step 4: The Traveller tests the solutions
  • The Traveller listens to the suggestions attentively in a very receptive state while he visualises the healing, inspiring energies flowing into himself. He pauses for a few moments and chooses one or more suggestions he will bring into practice. Often he will combine several suggestions. He mentally goes back to the problem situation, to a moment just before the problematic emotional state occurred. He now tries out the suggested solutions in his mind and comments on their result. The Ghost mirrors the Traveller’s physiology and checks whether a positive shift in emotional state occurs. The Chief will accept a solution as valid only when the Ghost registers this shift. This prevents the Traveller from selecting solutions that sound logical but that he knows (on an unconscious level) will not work in actual practice.
  • Step 5: The Tail gunner challenges the selected solutions
  • The Tail gunner now does everything within his power to ridicule the selected solutions and undermine the Traveller’s faith in them. The Tail gunner has a disgusted expression in his face and he has a stick with which he stamps on the ground, He talks in a loud belligerent and condescending tone of voice. He claims that the solution is impossible to put into practice, or at any rate that it is impossible for the Traveller. And even if it were possible for the Traveller, he doesn’t deserve it of it will have hosts of negative side effects. The Traveller defends his chosen solutions against this attack, supported, if necessary, by the Chief and the Pilots.
  • Step 6: The selected solution is stabilised and generalised
  • As a finishing step, the Traveller internalises the Pilots, that is, the Chief suggests the Traveller take a few moments to imagine the Pilots are with him in problem situation. The Traveller practices mentally hearing them give even more suggestions. This is an important step. Having multiple mental mentors available in many situations can be a valuable resource. 

The Chief registers the Journey in his Chiefs Log, noting down the problem, some of the specifications, the selected solutions and a date and phone number for checking with the Traveller how he did in actual practice.

The Chief asks the other Crew members what they will do outside the Lifeboat context to help the Traveller. Some of them will pledge to do some specific activities for the Traveller, like call him at a certain time to encourage him, or bring him in contact with certain people, or buy him something that expresses his intentions, et cetera.


MindSonar – MetaProfile Analysis

(Originally developed in Dutch, now available in English, Spanish, French, Czech and Polish)
 Last but not least: MindSonar, an on line system for measuring meta programs, developed by Dutch psychologist and NLP trainer Jaap Hollander. Like the social panorama and the nano tech deck, MindSonar is used by NLP-practitioners all over the world.

MindSonar is a psychological test that measures people’s meta programs, their criteria (what they find important), the hierarchy in their criteria, and what type of criteria they are. MindSonar is like an x-ray machine for the mind. It is assumed—and this is different from most other psychological tests—that someone’s meta programs and criteria will be different in different situations. For instance, when someone is leading a team, he or she may be thinking completely differently from when they are playing with their children. Therefore MindSonar always measures someone’s thinking style for a specific context.

MindSonar presents the respondent with seventy-two questions and two tasks (criteria sorting and criteria categorisation). It also registers the time it takes the respondent to finish each test item.

The program starts by explaining (in text and audio) how the system works, what the respondent may expect, and the importance of answering the questions based on how they think rather than how they would like to think or ought to think. Next, the program asks the respondent to identify the context in which he or she wants their meta-profile to be measured. Alternatively, this context may be predefined by the professional using the system, in which case the program simply states the context.

Once the context has been defined, the respondent is asked to concentrate on that context for a few moments while a piece of music is played. This process is repeated twice later on, thereby anchoring awareness of the context to that particular piece of music. The respondent can change the music if they wish. A wide range of music styles is offered to choose from. Later on during the questionnaire, the program will play the same music (“fire” the anchor) to stimulate continued awareness of the context.

Next, the program asks for identifying and demographic information: name, birth date, educational level, work area, work function level, and marital status.

Then the program asks the respondent to define four things they find important in the chosen context (four criteria) and then to order their criteria from most to least important (hierarchy of criteria). He or she is then shown the four criteria and asked to define the opposites (e.g., the opposite of “vigour” might be “weakness” for a given respondent). Different respondents will define different opposites for the same criteria, thereby clarifying the meaning (complex equivalence) of that criterion.

The hierarchy (top two positions) is tested in the following way. The respondent is asked whether or not he or she would accept a small loss of criterion #2 in return for a large gain in criterion #1. For example: is he or she willing to accept a little loneliness in return for a lot of creativity? If the respondent does not accept the offer, they are directed back to their list of criteria and encouraged to make changes. Sometimes criteria are components of or conditions for other criteria. MindSonar resolves this by encouraging respondents to combine criteria. For instance, if a respondent believes that they can only be creative together with other people, they cannot accept some loneliness to get a lot more creativity, because the loneliness will in turn decrease their creativity. The respondent is then advised to combine “creativity” and “communication” into one new criterion (e.g., “creative communication”). This enables the respondent to create a “clean” set of criteria (without direct dependencies) which can then be sorted.

Next, the respondent is shown one criterion and seven groups of two words representing seven Graves categories. After doing the Graves categorisation, the respondent is presented with seventy-six questions related to meta-programs. The number of questions per meta- program varies between four and seven, depending on how many questions are needed to achieve the desired statistical reliability (Cronbach’s Alpha = 0.7 or higher).

There are six types of test items for meta-programs:

  1. Identification items: Photographs showing people thinking different things (in text balloons). The respondents indicate which person thinks most like them.
  2. Symbolic items: The respondent chooses from a set of symbols.
  3. Avoidance items: An avoidance question is asked (“What do you want to prevent?”).
  4. Key word items: The respondent chooses from different key word combinations.
  5. Proverb items: The respondent chooses from two or three proverbs.
  6. Straightforward items: The respondent is asked directly about the meta-program in question (“Do you think more like this or more like this?”).

MindSonar also measures response times (i.e., how long it takes the respondent to answer the questions).

Meta programs are patterns in people’s thinking. In the term neuro-linguistic programming, the term “programming” refers to mental strategies (sequences of inner images, sounds, and feelings). Meta-programs are “meta” to these strategies; they describe general trends in the content of these strategies. Since most NLP-readers will be familiar with meta-programs, they will be described here only briefly. The following meta-programs are measured by MPA MindSonar:

  • Proactive (preference for acting quickly and taking the initiative) versus
  • Reactive (preference for waiting, considering, and reflecting).
  • Toward (focus on achieving goals) versus
  • Away From (focus on avoiding problems).
  • Internal Reference (using one’s own standards in evaluations) versus
  • External Reference (using other people’s standards in evaluations).
  • Options (preference for many different possibilities) versus
  • Procedures (preference for step-by-step plans).
  • Maintenance (preference for things staying the same) versus
  • Development (preference for gradual change) versus
  • Change (preference for fast and radical change).
  • Global (focus on broad overview) versus
  • Specific (focus on details).
  • People (focus on people) versus
  • Activities (focus on activities) versus
  • Information (focus on information).
  • Concept (focus on concepts and principles) versus
  • Structure (focus on relationships between elements) versus
  • Use (focus on practical applications).
  • Together (preference for working closely together with shared responsibility) versus
  • Proximity (preference for mutual support with individual responsibility) versus
  • Solo (preference for working alone).
  • Matching (focus on what is good and correct) versus
  • Mismatching (focus on what is bad and incorrect).
  • Internal locus of control (focus on how someone influences their circumstances) versus
  • External locus of control (focus on how someone’s circumstances influence them).Past (focus on the past) versus
  • Present (focus on the “here and now”) versus
  • Future (focus on the future).
  • Visual (focus on images and movies) versus
  • Auditory (focus on sounds and words) versus
  • Kinaesthetic (focus on feelings and movement).

(These last three distinctions are sensory modalities rather than meta programs. They are measured together with the meta-programs for the sake of convenience.)

Criteria are values. They indicate what someone finds important in a given context. In the TOTE (Test–Operate–Test–Exit) Model of goal-directed behaviour, the present situation is compared with a criterion to determine whether operations (actions) are necessary.3 Meta-programs can be understood as ways in which people handle their criteria. MPA MindSonar asks the respondent to define:

  • Four criteria (four things they find important in the context their profile is measured for).
  • A meta-criterion (what happens when the first four criteria are met).
  • The opposites of all criteria (e.g., for a particular person, the opposite of “inspiration” might be “dullness”).
  • The hierarchy of the criteria (their order of importance).

Originally, MPA MindSonar simply took stock of people’s criteria by storing their verbal descriptions. This made it difficult to compare criteria, since different people attach different meanings to the same words. We wanted to be able to accurately define and compare criteria based on numbers. To achieve this, we needed a typology of values, and we chose the Graves (Spiral Dynamics®) model. Graves theorised that there are eight value systems which evolved over the course of human history.4 He assumed that each value system flows from the previous one as a response to ever more complex living circumstances and the problems which are inherent in the last system. MPA MindSonar now measures the extent to which criteria are associated with seven of the eight Graves categories, using colours derived from Spiral Dynamics5 theory:

  • Purple Drive: When someone has a strong purple drive, their criteria in that particular context have to do primarily with security and safety. Other key words for this drive are: belonging, tradition, feeling at home, togetherness, and seniority.
  • Red Drive: When someone has a strong red drive, their criteria primarily relate to power and respect—to getting respect in particular, but also to showing respect. They act impulsively, quickly, and forcefully without thinking of the consequences. Other key words for this drive are: reputation, power, strength, honour, and courage.
  • Blue Drive: When someone has a strong blue drive, their criteria have to do primarily with order and security. Other key words for this drive are: discipline, reliability, duty, and control.
  • Orange Drive: When someone has a strong orange drive, their criteria have to do primarily with competition and winning. Other key words for this drive are: success, achievement, results, progress, and influence.
  • Green Drive: When someone has a strong green drive, their criteria have to do primarily with ideals and loyalty to the group. Other key words for this drive are: harmony, community, connectedness, love, social contact, and consensus.
  • Yellow Drive: When someone has a strong yellow drive, people criteria have to do primarily with learning and independence. Other key words for this drive are: creativity, analysis, and personal growth.
  • Turquoise Drive: When someone has a strong turquoise drive, their criteria primarily have to do with the big picture and a holistic vision. Other key words for this drive are: responsibility for the earth as a whole, spirituality, balance, and integration.

MindSonar works with a gradual responding system, meaning that the respondent does not have to make absolute yes-or-no choices. He or she indicates to what extent an alternative applies to him or herself by moving a ball.

Respondents take the test via a website on the Internet. The report is available to the professional administering the test one minute after the respondent finishes the test. No reports are sent to respondents directly.

The report describes thirty-two elements distributed over thirteen meta-programs and seven criteria dimensions (Graves categories). The scores are expressed in numbers, graphs, and interpretive texts.



About the Author Jaap Hollander

Psycholoog, NLP-trainer, Trainer provocatief coachen, schrijver (11 boeken), directeur IEP --- Geeft NLP- en provocatieve workshops en -opleidingen. --- Stond vijf jaar achtereen in de top-500 professionals van ‘Quote’. --- Ontwikkelde MindSonar.

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