The Hero's Journey (Paperback edition)

A voyage of self-discovery

By: Stephen Gilligan, PhD , Robert Dilts


Or purchase digital products from our partners:


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 234 x 156mm
Pages : 288
ISBN : 9781785831621
Format: Paperback
Published: September 2016

Stephen Gilligan and Robert Dilts truly take you on a voyage of self-discovery. The Hero’s Journey examines the questions: How can you live a meaningful life? What is the deepest life you are called to, and how can you respond to that call?

It is about how to discover your calling and how to embark on the path of learning and transformation that will reconnect you with your spirit, change negative beliefs and habits, heal emotional wounds and physical symptoms, deepen intimacy, and improve self-image and self-love. Along this path we inevitably meet challenges and confronting these challenges forces us to develop and think in new ways and push us outside our comfort zone.

The book takes the form of a transcript of a four day workshop conducted by Stephen and Robert. It is a powerful way of learning as you are so absorbed by the experiences of the participants that you feel you are actually there. A wonderful voyage of discovery for everyone who thinks ‘there must be more to life than this’.

There is also a hardback edition available, ISBN 9781845902865.

Picture for author Stephen Gilligan, PhD

Stephen Gilligan, PhD

Stephen Gilligan PhD, has become a leading figure in Ericksonian hypnotherapy. He is the developer of the Generative Self approach to personal growth. A licensed psychologist, Stephen maintains a private practice in Encinitas, California.

Click here to read Stephen Gilligan’s blog.

Picture for author Robert Dilts

Robert Dilts

Robert Dilts has been a developer, author, trainer and consultant in the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) - a model of human behaviour, learning and communication - since its creation in 1975 by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. A long time student and colleague of both Grinder and Bandler, Robert also studied personally with Milton H. Erickson, M.D., and Gregory Bateson.

Robert is the principal author of Neuro-Linguistic Programming Vol. I (with John Grinder, Richard Bandler and Judith DeLozier, 1980), which serves as the standard reference text for the field, and has authored numerous other books on NLP. Changing Belief Systems with NLP (1990) and Beliefs: Pathways to Health and Well Being (with Tim Hallbom and Suzi Smith, 1990) describe his work in changing limiting beliefs and creating functional belief systems. Tools for Dreamers (with Todd Epstein and Robert W. Dilts, 1991) and Skills for the Future (with Gino Bonissone, 1993), explore the applications of NLP to managing and enhancing creativity. Effective Presentation Skills (1994) covers the key skills necessary for successful public speaking. Strategies of Genius Volume I, Volume II & Volume III (1994-1995), apply the methods and distinctions of NLP to model the thinking processes of important historical figures including Aristotle, Sherlock Holmes (a.k.a. Arthur Conan Doyle), Walt Disney, Wolfgang Mozart, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Leonardo da Vinci and Nikola Tesla. Dynamic Learning (with Todd Epstein, 1995), explores the development of effective strategies for learning and teaching. Visionary Leadership Skills (1996), studies tools and skills necessary for 'creating a world to which people want to belong.- Tools of the Spirit (with Robert McDonald, 1997), explores how NLP principles and processes may be used to encourage and enhance spiritual growth and development. Modeling with NLP (1998) covers the tools and skills for modeling the behavior of exceptional people, illustrating the application of NLP modeling procedures to the study of effective leadership ability. Sleight of Mouth (1999) describes the set of verbal reframing patterns he developed to conversationally influence beliefs. The Encyclopedia of Systemic Neuro-Linguistic Programming and NLP New Coding (with Judith DeLozier, 2000) provides a comprehensive overview of the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, including its wide range of applications, techniques and influences. Alpha Leadership: Tools for Business Leaders Who Want More From Life (with Ann Deering and Julian Russell, 2002) describes a new model of leadership that captures and shares the practices of effective leadership, offering approaches to reduce stress and to promote satisfaction.

Robert's more recent books include From Coach to Awakener (2003), which provides a road map and set of toolboxes for coaches to help clients reach goals on a number of different levels of learning and change and The Hero's Journey: A Voyage of Self Discovery (with Stephen Gilligan, 2009), which encourages you to embark on a path of learning and transformation that will reconnect you with your deepest calling, transform limiting beliefs and habits, heal emotional wounds and physical symptoms, deepen intimacy, and improve self-image. And published in October of 2010 is the long awaited NLP II: The Next Generation (with Judith DeLozier and Deborah Bacon Dilts). This book reviews the new developments which have enriched the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming since the publication of NLP Volume I. During the last 30 years, NLP developers and practitioners have expanded the boundaries of NLP, creating a new generation of models and applications.

Robert is also a co-founder (with Tim Hallbom and Suzi Smith) of the Institute for Advanced Studies of Health (IASH). Established in 1994, IASH is a non-profit organization which supports research and networking relating to the application of Systemic NLP methods to the area of health. As part of this mission, IASH provides administration for The NLP World Health Community and Health Certification Training. IASH maintains an international directory of certified NLP Health Practitioners.

For information regarding training opportunities contact:

In the USA:

Tel: +1 (831) 438 8314

NLP and Coaching Institute
Tel: +1 (801) 277-2014

In Latin America (Mexico) CMPNL ph. 52-33-3615-8447

In Europe: Coaching Plaza - ph. 31-010 227-0667

View Robert's seminar schedule:


  1. In a nutshell -˜The Hero's Journey' is about responding to your deepest calling and living a meaningful life. This book sets out to help the reader hear and heed that calling; living a life connected and aligned to it.

    Stephen Gilligan is one of the foremost practitioners and teachers of Ericksonian hypnotherapy while Robert Dilts is a primary voice in the practice, training and development of NLP. They worked extensively with Bandler and Grinder in the early days of NLP and now collaborate in seminars and workshops all over the world.

    The majority of this book is a transcript of one of these seminars and reading it almost creates a sense of being on the journey with them. The journey follows an 8 step map drawn from Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces and the work on the journey is designed to develop the necessary tools and consciousness through the Generative Self approach.

    On the journey we engage three aspects of consciousness; cognitive, somatic and field. The Generative Self has the capacity to access what is required in each aspect, expanding the notion of the mind-body connection to a state in which it is possible to learn “to be what is moving through you”.

    For NLP practitioners there is much that is recognisable in this process but it is looking at NLP from an expanded perspective. Much of it is working at an energetic level; possibly it is about having all our energies working in alignment, with integrity and authenticity and always in the context of our deepest calling.

    This journey is both a challenge and a delight and I recommend it to anyone who wants to expand their practice, their experience or their mind beyond.
  2. -˜Train yourself to feel excited when you're really stuck' says Steve Gilligan in this intriguing take on the classic Hero's Journey work of Joseph Campbell. Conflict is the energy that shifts us out of our comfort zone over the threshold as we hear our calling into a new world of adventure.

    What a great reminder for us coaches that it's good not to have the answers for the client and to go with the discomfort of the -˜stuckness.' It's OK for us to be out of our depth and metaphorically to capsize the boat unintentionally. And for those of us looking for new and creative solutions, different ways of thinking, this book offers insights and inspiration.

    With Gilligan and Dilts, we witness two great personal development masters, giving us a privileged insight into their work as trainers and healers. They encourage curiosity and listening at a deeper, broader level with an elegance that belies the sophistication of their approach. Above all the generosity of spirit of both guys shines through as they dance, play, tell stories and entertain the audience. Nowhere do you get the sense that they want to be celebrities on the centre of the stage. It's the work and the clients who matter most as the true heroes.

    The book is derived from transcripts of a four day workshop and through careful editing, enables the reader to feel engaged in the experience. Wisdom, healing, laughter and energy exude from the page. The pair weave intellectual concepts from NLP, Hypnosis, Aikido, Buddhism, the Five Rhythms and more into the structure of the Hero's Journey as well as Gilligan's own model of the Generative Self. Those who want more than theory are well served with a range of well-explained practical exercises. You can have a go at these on your own or with a coach or colleague.

    Gilligan's three part Generative Self model address the somatic, cognitive and field aspects of self. My own take is that this means first learning to centre ourselves in the body, getting in touch with breathing and bodily sensations -” the somatic knowledge. Secondly we need to accept and sponsor all aspects of ourselves, good and bad at the cognitive level, and then the third element involves connecting with the broader world opening ourselves up beyond our regular experience -” the field.

    Of course, it's all easier said than done. This is why the book offers leaves the reader wanting more; it's a tempting taste of what it is like to experience the workshop for real. As those already familiar with NLP and other disciplines know, the words are simply the surface structure of a deeper experience which happens when people get together.

    The book offers a rich version of a live learning experience to read and absorb at leisure, to reflect on and decide how to make these concepts inform your own hero's journey. It's one book that will reveal different nuances each time you re-read it and well worth its place on any bookshelf.
  3. Come along on a wonderful journey with these two master teachers and playfully deep thinkers. Gilligan and Dilts will challenge you, delight you and move you. With poetry, humor, exercises, and some amazing language, you will feel like you are in the room with them as they invite you to journey far and return to yourself again in a new way. Heed their call; read this book
  4. I actually found this to be a very good journey and one to remember, the 4 days of twists and turns which had my mind working throughout. The demonstrations which help my understanding were very good.

    An excellent addition to any bookshelf, well written and a very good read.
  5. If you've ever felt denied in experiencing your destiny, if you every felt obstructed then these masters, story you right back into permitting your own inner hero to come alive. They open you up to the succulent, luscious, ripe, moist aspects of your life that a ripe for change and transformation. The scandalous, spicy, exciting, aspects of your life that you may want to hide are brought into a caring appreciative workshop programme and given loving attention. If you have ever felt dried out, or dried up, then this is your read. Juicy, juicy!

    Well recommended.
  6. This book is a transcription of a four day workshop, conducted by Robert Dilts and Steven Gilligan. I was, at first, under the impression that the Hero's Journey of the title was mostly based on a variation of Parts Therapy but, reading further into the book, I realised that what the authors were using was actually much more than this.

    As students, they both trained with Milton Erickson, Bandler and Grinder and Virginia Satir and the Hero's Journey is based very much on Virginia Satir's method of using psychodrama with some of the families she was helping. Each session begins with an explanation of the process, a demonstration, by the authors, of what the session entails, followed by work with volunteers from the delegates on the workshop.

    Each part of the Journey is acted out, incorporating many NLP techniques and with tots of humour from both leaders. For some people, especially those who are primarily kinaesthetic, using this method will bring home the necessity for change much more strongly than, , say, a session of hypnotherapy or other technique which relies on the client's imagination.

    I found the book very interesting and entertaining and I think many therapists, especially those who work with groups, will find it a very useful addition to their library.
  7. -˜The Hero's Journey' is a transcript of a seminar on this topic which the authors facilitated in Barcelona. Essentially, -˜The Hero's Journey' is a metaphor for leading a meaningful life, and the authors invite their readers (as they invited their seminar participants) to identify and respond to “the deepest life you are called to.” They acknowledge that this isn't necessarily an easy or comfortable process (hence their use of the word -˜hero') and present the process as a challenge, which offers the potential for both great benefits and great costs. For this, they are to be applauded, as the recognition that quests for personal enlightenment/self awareness involve risks as well as prizes is conspicuously absent from many similar personal development books.

    The format of the book is clear and easy to follow, and presented in such a way that at times, the reader feels as though they are actually participants in the seminar themselves. Exercises are clearly explained and moments of humour and drama are skillfully captured in the narrative. My sense is that the book will probably be most valued by readers who already have a basic knowledge of NLP -” or at least an openness to NLP's presupposition re. the value of working with people's subjective realities and sensory experiences. This is not a book to be passively read. It's a book to be worked through with a notepad and pen, so that you can record your learning as you go, and keep a note of your responses to the exercises and demonstrations that are both the book's strength and its uniqueness.'
  8. This is an absolutely outstanding collaboration between two of the world's foremost transformational pioneers and a breakthrough contribution in the field of personal development.

    Robert Dilts and Stephen Gilligan have produced a superb account of a magical four day seminar -” so vivid and dynamic, you feel you are part of it as you read.
    They've developed a truly profound, integrated and evolutionary model from leading-edge approaches in NLP, Ericksonian Hypnosis, Aikido, Meditation, Five Rhythms and much more, and co-train it -˜live' with tremendous humour, compassion and wisdom.
    If you want to come more alive, be more present, bring more of yourself to the party with all its joys and difficulties then I wholeheartedly recommend 'The Hero's Journey' as your guide.
  9. This book provides an ideal format for groups who want to explore new dimensions of personhood. For me, it crystallized concepts that I had wondered about, yet had never known how to discuss. Gilligan and Dilts establish a vocabulary for spirituality that for goes beyond the philosophical, into the experiential. They are teaching what mystics have always known and done.
  10. I have just finished reading this book by Stephen Gilligan and Robert Dilts and want to share my thoughts about it.

    The first thing I have to say, is that this is not a passive read. To gain maximum value, readers need to participate fully because it is very much a -˜hands on, do-it-yourself' book. As a player and instructor of tai chi chuan I easily understand many of the principle, but Robert's & Stephen's explanations are more than able to convey.

    The authors synthesise concepts and principles from many disciplines and philosophies, including Tai Chi, Aikidi, Zen Buddhism, Yoga, etc in terms of opening the channels of the body, grounding, balance and centring. It is about replacing antagonistic or confrontational reactions, behaviour and emotions with accepting, welcoming in and using somatic questioning to identify the positive intentions and working with them. It guides through aligning our energies (resources) so taking negatives and barriers ancountered in life's journey, understanding them and converting them into positives.

    I particularly liked working with the -˜Archetypal Circle' defining the dragon (the problem) and working through various transitions to resolve issues. 
    Another exercise which I found illuminating as well as useful was the -˜Energy Ball', which is a concept I worked with when I used to practise Kung Fu. It's a marvellous mechanism for centring, so helping you cope with a variety od stressors. It has the added advantage of being highly portable and available in almost any situation.

    This is a highly experiential book serving both the individual reader's life journey but also adding another tool to the life coach's toolbox.
  11. I have read many NLP books, and have become tired of the sameness of many of them - the same NLP stories, the same exhortations to brighten those sub-modalities or collapse those anchors !. Consequently I was very excited to discover this new angle on self-development through NLP. “The Hero's Journey” provides a pathway to help identify your inner calling and deal with the negative energies holding you back. It's a refreshing approach, seamlessly building in many NLP and hypnosis tools including timeline, parts integration, and perceptual positions.

    I hope this book stimulates a new NLP literature to replace the stagnation of many current NLP works.

    This is not to say that this book is the whole answer. I have a number of reservations about it - I find the self-congratulatory style of the presenters irritating and the use of pseudo-intellectual language offputting (“the following exercise applies the systemic NLP processes of spatial sorting, somatic syntax and the concept of characterological adjectives ...”). Why can't the book be accessible to everyone ?

    But put aside the “new age” gloop (or as the authors have it - “extend into a field of fields, where there is an intelligence ... a mind beyond mind”) and you'll find a very interesting and useful resource for advanced NLPers seeking to help themselves and others along the path to self-fulfillment. If NLP is a major part of your self development, then this book is well worth reading. It helped me clarify my goals and issues. I hope other authors will develop the route further.
  12. This book is a transcript of therapists Gilligan and Dilts resurrecting the age-old metaphor of the Hero for an enthusiastic audience of workshop participants who eagerly embrace it in an effort to reframe chapters of their lives.
  13. If you could eavesdrop a conversation between two of the greatest contributors to the spirituality of NLP, this is it-¦.to ponder and cherish. A transforming workshop transcribed, it makes it possible for you the reader also to be transformed.
  14. Once again two of the masters of NLP have put together an exceptional personal development program.

    It's written as a conversation, which can be a little difficult to get used to at first, but after a few pages you are so engrossed in the words it's a though you are actually a part of the conversation. A very deep thinking and profound book that will open your mind to new ways of thinking that will have you challenged and motivated to continue the journey for yourself.

    It's like attending a workshop with them, but in your own home. Brilliant!

Write your own review