Review: Time Line Therapy and the Basis of Personality

Time Line Therapy and the Basis of Personality
by Tad James & Wyatt Woodsmall

I have long been a fan of Time Line Therapy and find it to be one of the most powerful techniques in the field of NLP. In this book from 1988, James and Wyatt give a very clear description of Time Line Therapy including how to elicit the Time Line, release a limiting decision or trauma, remove anxiety, or set a goal in the future Time Line. All of these are explained with clear language and easy-to-follow steps. For this alone, this book is well worth having, but it offers much much more.

In Section I, the authors explain the NLP Communication Model and the filters which we use as we process the world around us. At their best, these filters delete, distort, and generalize experience so that we can function effectively in the world. When they are optimal, they limit our options and cause problems in our lives. These filters are the substance of the NLP expression: The Map is Not the Territory. In other words, the way that we represent the world in our heads is not the same as the world itself.

The filters include: Metaprograms, Values, Beliefs, Attitudes, Memories and Decisions. The authors postulate that these form the basis of our personalities, and after the excellent description of Time Line Therapy in Section II, Section III explores Meta Programs in great detail and Section IV explores the formation, evolution, and changing of values.

The description of meta programs in Section III is divided into simple meta programs and complex meta programs. Simple meta programs are based on Jung’s work into human archetypes and also form the basis of the Myers Briggs personality testing system. These are Introvert/Extravert, Intuitor/Sensor, Thinker/Feeler, and Judger/Perceiver. In another post, I described the complex meta programs discussed in this book. Many different NLP trainers and researchers have explored a variety of Meta Programs, but the description and means of elicitation described in this book are among the best to be found.

Section IV is a very valuable discussion of Values. James and Woodsmall give a nice metaphor for values and beliefs. If beliefs are considered to be cups, then values can be considered to be the cup holders onto which they hook. In other words, beliefs are supported by values. The authors also make the suggestion that beliefs are generally conscious, whereas values are more embedded in the unconscious mind. In particular, core values can be completely invisible to the conscious mind unless we explicitly explore them in some way. Even more unconscious are meta programs which are the unconscious strategies by which we live our lives. This section also includes an excellent exercise for eliciting values and shows how the hierarchy/order of values can be changed by altering the submodalities.

The book finishes with a long transcript of a therapy session with a cocaine addict which illustrates many of the concepts of the book very well and shows how personality can potentially be changed in positive and practical ways in order to help people to live happier lives.

Much of the material in this book has found its way into NLP practitioner courses around the world, but returning to the original source is always valuable and highly recommended for anyone interested in either Time Line therapy or the nature of human personality.

Excellent Free Hypnosis Resources

The Internet is truly an amazing resource, and amidst all the hyperbolic marketing and dubious products, I am sometimes very pleasantly surprised by the quality resources that people make available free of charge. Here are two examples of great resources for learning and practicing hypnosis that are available free.

Rene A. Bastarache carries out hypnosis trainings, but also offers his massive training manual as a free download without any commitment. It is 446 pages long and contains great lessons as well as numerous basic scripts that will help get beginner hypnotists practicing right away.

Dylan Morgan offers a huge array of resources at his website. The most accessible book for beginners is his free book:Hypnosis for Beginners. I have used it as the course book for hypnosis workshops and it has excellent exercises and explanations. It is a much more exploratory approach than other courses-the learner is asked to test everything to see if it actually works rather than simply accepting the teacher’s ideas. I am very impressed by Dylan Morgan’s ideas and generosity and would have loved to have had the opportunity to meet him, but unfortunately he passed away earlier this year. Perhaps the greatest tribute that can be paid to him now is to download and use his books-that is why he made them available–the more widely the powerful ideas of hypnosis are spread, the more people can be helped to utilize hypnosis to improve their own lives and the lives of people around them.

Stephen Brooks – The Art of Indirect Suggestion

Over the last few months, I’ve been listening to some audio recordings of a hypnosis training by Stephen Brooks, a British trainer with a long history of teaching hypnosis. The audio consists of eight sections, each about 90 minutes in length, making a total of 12 hours. There is a good article about Stephen on Wikipedia.

He teaches students the different types of hypnotic patterns they can use, including binds, double binds, reverse yes-sets, time binds and many more.

Stephen also offers a one-year online certification course that is available free of charge at:


Review: Hypnosis for Beginners

There are a large number of books/DVDs etc. available to learn hypnosis, and there are many different schools. Out of the many resources that I have used to gain a deeper understanding of hypnosis, one of the most straightforward and clearest books that I have found is Hypnosis for Beginners by Dylan Morgan. Apart from being very well written, it has the added bonus of being available as a free download from the author’s website:

The website is a huge treasure trove of material about hypnosis and the author comes across as a man of great integrity who wishes to share his knowledge freely with as many people as possible to achieve the greatest benefit. Having read this book and browsed several of the others on the website, I wish that I had the chance to meet Dylan Morgan, but it is sad to see that he passed away in March 2011. His website is still preserved in its entirety and I recommend it highly.

I found this book so useful that I am planning to use it as the core text for a hypnosis workshop that I am starting up with an NLP friend in Nagoya over the next few months. Like the book, the workshop is intended to consist of simple exercises and an exploratory approach to hypnosis. Even though many of the participants will not be beginners, all come from different backgrounds and revisiting the basics in an open-minded and exploratory style will certainly be of benefit to all.

I’ve shown the contents of the book below. It is quite short (147 pages) and so cannot cover many of the elements of other introductory books. For example, Morgan starts out by explicitly stating that the book is not a history of hypnosis and it is not a collection of scripts.

1. Simple Connections.
2. Switching Systems Off.
3. The Visual Imagination.
4. Directing and Controlling the Imagination.
5. Exploring Inductions.
6. Posthypnotic suggestions.
7. Focussing Attention.
8. Resistance and Rapport.
9. Self-hypnosis.
10. Bringing it all Together.

From Chapter 1, Morgan has the reader explore their own mind and gives exercises for exploring the concepts of hypnosis with a friend or a partner. He takes a systems view of hypnosis. In his descriptions, hypnosis is a natural phenomenon that involves connections between systems within the human body. For example, words in the verbal system can stimulate or visual system, or alternatively cause it to relax and become less active. Similarily, other sensory and body systems can be used to affect systems to make them become more or less active.

It is a pleasant change from many other beginner books which simply present inductions and scripts, often wrapped up in a certain amount of mysticism. Morgan’s book takes a very practical, exploratory approach, and I look forward to using it in our workshops over the coming months.


Review: Skinny Bitch

While this isn’t an NLP book, it is a fine example of a book that uses very persuasive language to achieve its main point: think carefully about what you put into your body. In the acknowledgements, the authors thank Anthony Robins and Wayne Dyer, both proponents of NLP, and it is clear that they have used the language of NLP effectively to get their message across.

The book is aimed at women and takes a very light tone, as if a woman were talking to her girlfriends at a cafe or wine bar. It is sprinkled with lots of effective cursing. The authors are also very aware of the power of visual images in persuasion and use some very graphic ones indeed to tell the reader about the horrors of slaughterhouses. Similarly, they use powerful language to reframe meat as rotting carcasses.

I enjoyed the book very much and while I’m not planning to become a vegan (I’m already vegetarian for most of the week) or radically change my eating habits, they have certainly made me think about what I’m putting into my body and how the food industry and overseeing governmental bodies are set up to ensure the financial success of farmers, not the safety of consumers.

Review: Full Facts Book of Cold Reading


I don’t generally watch much television. We don’t actually have a television in the house, but of course, pretty much anything is available online these days for viewing, and recently I began to watch episode after episode of a fun murder investigation drama called The Mentalist. Each episode begins with a murder and the main character, Patrick Jane, uses his powers of sensory acuity, hypnosis and cold reading to solve the crime. Jane used to work as a psychic, but now claims that there are is no such thing as a psychic.

I had never heard the term cold reading until I came across a few books on Amazon related to it. Wikipedia defines it as follows:

Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalists, illusionists, fortune tellers, psychics, and mediums to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do.

One of the books, How to be a Mentalist, was the one that first caught my attention, but when I looked through the comments, there were some very negative reviews, along with some comments suggesting that the positive reviews were the result of a discount being offered by the author to people who agreed to write positive reviews. The negative reviews did have the positive result of recommending some alternative books, and Full Facts Book of Cold Reading does indeed warrant these recommendations. The author is Ian Rowland. His website is a good indication of his highly amusing, self-deprecating, and extremely honest writing. It says “Ian Rowland – Internationally known as Ian who from where?” There are so many ridiculous and self-important claims made on websites, especially ones trying to sell self-help products, that Rowland’s style is refreshing.

Rowland often poses as a psychic for television shows and uses his cold reading skills to make predictions about the lives and future lives of the volunteers. Afterwards, it is always revealed that he has no psychic power whatsoever. Rowland does not claim directly that there is no such thing as psychic power, but he certainly implies it extremely strongly with his in-depth explanations of how cold reading can be used to create the effect. This debunking of psychics, astrologers, tarot readers, and other spiritualists had me laughing out loud at many points during the book. The author can be very funny.

For me, the most interesting and useful part of the book is the analysis of the elements of a ‘psychic’ reading. I have given some examples below (summarized from the book) that will give you a taste of his ideas.

1. The Rainbow Ruse

The Rainbow Ruse is a statement which credits the client with both a personality trait and its opposite.

“You can be a very considerate person, very quick to provide for others, but there are times, if you are honest, when you recognise a selfish streak in yourself.”

2. Fine Flattery

Fine Flattery statements are designed to flatter the client in a subtle way likely to win agreement. Usually, the formula involves the client being compared to “people in general” or “most of those around you”, and being declared a slight but significant improvement over them.

“…I have your late sister with me now. She tells me she wants you to know that she always admired you, even if she didn’t always express it well. She tells me that you are… wait, it’s coming through… yes, I see, she says you are in many ways more shrewd, or perceptive, than people might think. She says she always thought of you as quite a wise person, not necessarily to do with book-learning and examinations. She’s telling me she means wise in the ways of the world, and in ways that can’t be said of everyone. She’s laughing a little now, because she says this is wisdom that you have sometimes had to learn the hard way! She says you are intelligent enough to see that wisdom comes in many forms.”

3. Sugar Lumps

Sugar Lump statements offer the client a pleasant emotional reward in return for believing in the junk on offer.

“Your heart is good, and you relate to people in a very warm and loving way. The tarot often relates more to feelings and intuition than to cold facts, and your own very strong intuitive sense could be one reason why the tarot seems to work especially well for you. The impressions I get are much stronger with you than with many of my clients.”

4. The Jacques Statement

This element consists of a character statement based on the different phases of life which we all pass through. Jacques Statements are derived from common rites of passage, widely-recognised life patterns, and typical problems which we all encounter on the road to mature adulthood.

“If you are honest about it, you often get to wondering what happened to all those dreams you had when you were younger; all those wonderful ambitions you held dear, and plans which once mattered to you. I suspect that deep down, there is a part of you that sometimes wants to just scrap everything, get out of the rut, and start over again – this time doing things your way.”

5. Barnum Statements

These are artfully generalised character statements which a majority of people, if asked, will consider to be a reasonably accurate description of themselves.

“You have a strong need for people to like and respect you.”

“You tend to feel you have a lot of unused capacity, and that people don’t always give you full credit for your abilities.”

“Some of your hopes and goals tend to be pretty unrealistic.”

6. The Fuzzy Fact

A Fuzzy Fact is an apparently factual statement which is formulated so that (a) it is quite likely to be accepted (b) it leaves plenty of scope to be developed into something more specific.

“I can see a connection with Europe, possibly Britain, or it could be the warmer, Mediterranean part?”

There are lots more in this fascinating book including:

  • The Stat Fact
  • The Trivia Fact
  • The Cultural Trend
  • The Childhood Memory
  • The Seasonal Touch
  • The extended veiled question
  • The jargon blitz
  • The vanishing negative

If you have an interest in cold reading, communication, or just want to have a fun and informative read, Full Facts Book of Cold Reading is a good choice. Have fun. You can purchase it from the author’s website at:


Alpha Power Patterns

I was listening to an interesting audio program by Steve G. Jones about conversational hypnosis in which he introduced several sets of what he terms alpha power patterns. He draws this collection of powerful words from alpha male language patterns, but emphasizes that they can used by anyone, male or female, to take control of conversations and direct them in useful ways. I have described some of these power patterns below with some additional examples. As with any of these conversational hypnosis patterns, it is interesting to listen to other people’s conversation to see which ones they are using (often without being aware of doing so).

1. Direct Power Patterns

The direct power patterns consist of three words: Yes, Stop, Now

Yes is a very powerful word in response to a question because it is fully committal without giving any excuses or reasons. It is best used on its own rather than in a sentence like “Yes, but …” or “Yes, because …”

Stop is obviously a powerful word and people tend to respond to it at an unconscious level because it is so culturally ingrained. It is a powerful way to change the topic or to take over the control of the conversation. When you say stop, allow only a very short break before moving on with your own utterance.

Now can be used as an addition to a command. For example, parents instinctively say to their children, “Clean your room … Now” and the now acts as a strong emphasis to the command. Now can also be used to change topic in a conversation by signaling a return to the present moment and thus a new starting point.

2. Consequential Power Patterns

These patterns are used to tell someone what to do by suggesting that there is a consequence. The example pattern that Steve gives is because.

Because you are late, class couldn’t start on time… and the other students were disturbed… and you are going to lose points.

Here, the consequences of the person’s actions are given clearly (joining them with ‘and’). The consequences need not necessarily be true.

Because you are leaving the city for the weekend, I will be alone … and I will have nothing to do … and I will eat too much icecream … and I will get fat.

There is no logical reason for all of these consequences to occur, yet the structure of the sentence implies that the consequences are real, especially if the first item in the chain of consequences is true.

3. Expansive Power Patterns

These are words that cause people’s thinking patterns to expand and to understand more possibilities. These patterns include beyond and expand.

I know that you can see beyond the little difficulty that you are having now and to a much brighter future.When you begin to expand the number of people that you meet, you will find that it is easy to go beyond your current level.


The audio program mentioned a few more similar patterns – all useful language to notice and perhaps to use in those times when you want to be a little more persuasive.


Review: Richard Bandler’s Guide to Transformation: Make Your Life Great

This is one of the most useful NLP books that I have read recently, and it reminds me again that Bandler’s work lies at the very heart of NLP, remaining far more important than some of the other components that have been bolted on to classic NLP over the years. In particular, it focuses on submodalities and the utilization of trance states. The book is divided into four sections.

Part 1: Patterns of Process and Elicitation: How People Create Their Reality and How We Can Know
This introduces some basic NLP techniques such as disocciation, the visual squash, submodalities, and modeling in a very reader-friendly fashion.

Part 2: Patterns of Induction: Hypnosis and the Art of Creating Powerful Learning States
Here we get into the core of the book where Bandler discusses trance induction.

Part 3: Patterns of Utilization: Using the Tools of Trance-formation
This section gives examples of how to utilize trance states effectively to achieve change.

Part 4: Trance-formation in Action
Here we find two full trance inductions which show the mastery of Bandler’s language. This is followed by two transcribed client sessions with editorial annotations showing how Bandler uses the language patterns of NLP and hypnosis to achieve change in clients. The transcriptions show effective use of humour, great listening skills, and a corresponding ability to identify the client’s important submodalities.
The resource files at the back of the book are a useful reminder of the Metamodel, Milton model, submodalities, and other useful areas.

The book also includes a DVD which features Bandler on stage carrying out rapid inductions. While he is clearly a fine entertainer and he entertains the audience greatly, he also carries out phenomenal learning trances and healing trances on the volunteers. He turns traumas into giggles and makes neck pains disappear within a couple of minutes. Bandler’s long experience and mastery with inducing and using different forms of trance is apparent through his instant inductions and powerful embedded commands. The DVD alone would have been worth the price of the book, and it is worth coming back to again and again to see a true master of hypnosis at work.

For someone new to NLP, this book will not give a comprehensive picture of the field of NLP as it is generally known and taught, but what it does offer is a strong introduction to the work of Richard Bandler with a much stronger focus on trance states than most NLP books or training programs.

Trance Induction Utilizing the First 10 Patterns of the Milton Model

This is a trance induction to illustrate the first ten patterns of the Milton Model. If you already know the MetaModel, you can recognize that these patterns are exactly the same, but are being used in the opposite way. In the MetaModel, the practitioner is aiming to get the client to restore the distortions, deletions, and generalizations and to get back to the original experience. In the Milton Model, the practitioner is aiming to get the client to move away from current experience using ambiguous statements which facilitate trance.

1. Presuppositions

As you sit here listening to my voice and noticing the things in the room around you …  I really don’t know exactly how you will begin to go into a trance … because it’s true that you can go into trance with your eyes open or closed … and you can even go into trance thinking consciously about how you can’t … because it’s … your unconscious that allows you to go into a trance … and some people can go into a light trance, or a medium trance, while some people can go into a very deep trance … and it’s not important whether you go very deep and slow … or whether you go into a trance quickly … because what’s really important is being able to discover your own ability to go into trance …  and to use that ability now … and you know that some people prefer to relax a little … then go down into a trance for a while … and then come back up before going all the way back down … while others prefer to … wait a few minutes and then drop deeply down, all the way down, at once … others prefer to go in and out of trance … up and down through deeper and deeper states… until eventually … at some point … everyone can go down and forget to come back up for a while … because trance is something that everyone can do …

2. Mind Read

you may be wondering just how easy it is for you to relax … now … and it’s good to wonder … and to wander … and you may be curious about how easy it is to relax … or you may be thinking that it will be a few moments more before you can really begin to go into trance … and perhaps you’re not sure whether you can go into a light trance … and that’s just fine … because when you think you can only go into a deep trance slowly … your mind is already starting to make the changes that help you to enter that trance state … right now …

3. Lost Performative

because when you wonder, you may become curious, and curiosity is the beginning of learning, and it’s good to learn new things, isn’t it

4. Cause and Effect

and just by thinking about relaxing, that may cause your unconscious mind to now relax, and to slow down your breathing and to let a wave of beautiful sleepiness pass right through your body

5. Complex Equivalent

… and that means that you long to feel that relaxation spread through your body … and if you let that feeling just spread out now … maybe slowly … or perhaps you will allow it to spread quickly … that means that each breath that you take will help you to relax even more

6. Universal Quantifier

… eventually reaching every part of your body … perhaps the kind of feeling of deep relaxation that always makes you feel good … and that everyone feels sometimes …  and it would be nice to feel that relaxation everywhere, wouldn’t it … because it’s true that everyone likes to relax and feel good

7. Modal Operator

… and you can just enjoy this feeling or you might simply observe it spreading … or you could even just let your conscious mind go as … your unconscious now … may like to continue that process … and you don’t have to go deeper into relaxation any sooner than your breath can slow down even more … and as you exhale, you could simply go deeper each time

8. Nominalization

… and as a deeper peace moves through your body … you can notice any areas that have not yet relaxed completely … and allow your unconscious now … to continue increasing the blood flow to those areas … and to bring you complete peace and relaxation and a deep sense of ease … that permeates every cell of your being

9. Unspecified Verb

and while you continue to slow down … and to … relax … your unconscious mind … can now begin to integrate the learnings that naturally occur in a state of deep relaxation … you can start to understand … and a situation that may have been a problem for you in the past starts to clarify now … to resolve itself naturally … and to simply … be right … make sense

10. Simple Deletion

because when you relax, you can just be … and that is a good state to … isn’t it … and if there was some change that you wanted to make, you can simply … do … now, can’t you … because it’s … right … right now