Understanding NLP

Principles & Practice - Second Edition

By: Peter Young


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Size: 234mm x 156mm

Pages : 320

ISBN : 9781904424109

Format: Paperback

Published: August 2003

Understanding NLP opens a doorway into a more imaginative and coherent way of understanding and using NLP. This completely revised edition unites the many strands of NLP using an elegant paradigm which Peter Young calls the Six Perceptual Positions model. The book provides numerous examples of the paradigm in practice.

Many NLP concepts are tracked back to their origins, and some of the metaphors used to explain NLP are reinterpreted. New material includes: the NLP Presuppositions, Polarity thinking, Logical Levels, an expanded view of Outcome Setting, and a clarification of Perceptual Positions. There are new chapters on the Art of Asking Questions, and Working with Parts and Roles.

This practical guide for the NLP practitioner, coach or therapist, has numerous suggestions about good practice and offers many practical tips on actually doing NLP and utilising the Six Perceptual Positions model. As a result, readers will develop a better understanding of different kinds of clients, and be able to make more effective interventions for creating change.

Picture for author Peter Young

Peter Young

Peter Young studied Psychology at the University of Hull, researched brain function at Adelaide University and studied Drama at the Flinders University of South Australia. He is an innovative thinker, with a talent for making connections between different forms of knowledge, and identifying underlying patterns, metaphors and stories. Peter is a creative and humorous writer with an extensive knowledge of NLP, psychology and drama, who is able to explain complex ideas in a clear language.


  1. In Peter Young's book you can “breath” his intent to help the reader to enlarge his/her map of the world. In Understanding NLP you will find deep illustrations of the real meaning of the most important presuppositions in NLP; you will also find many techniques using spacial anchors like the Disney strategy, the 6 Perceptual Position's Model, future pacing, meta positions, dissociation, ”

    I believe that Young's work with this book is really to deeply understand and experience the idea of learning to change points of view and create more choices.
  2. This is an excellent book both for the newly qualified and the experienced NLP practitioner. Young has used his considerable experience and skill to great effect, within the true spirit of NLP, to produce a model of NLP which provides a framework in which various techniques and tools come together. This blend offers the opportunity to freshen up and integrate approaches within the ethos of a generative methodology. It is a book that delivers a message that NLP is a living art form and that NLP is not there purely to be studied but to be developed beyond what we already think we know.
  3. I have read with great enjoyment an NLP book that is far above the conventional NLP heritage. This book makes it easy for people to be their own innovator, change engineer and even self-therapist. There is no need to follow the exercises as have been repeated routinely by NLP practitioners any more, for Peter gives us the key to design our own. Unfortunately, some of the old NLP dogma is shredded into slogans that people recite without paying attention to or reflecting on their life or the life of their clients. We know that reflection plus life equals learning and learning introduces us to change. If people accept my definition of NLP as: “It is the tool that we can use to restructure our past experiences, or even create new ones to build different reality maps than the ones we used or habituated to build”, then we have to equip ourselves with a skill of rotating in different realities model. This book introduces several interconnected paradigms and especially a four realities model that people can sit-down and locate where they are or were and where they want to be and then create a new map to their reality. I found that this book is a must read one, especially for practitioners who think of NLP as nothing but a useful myth. This book may be unfamiliar in addressing conventional NLP topics, but once you invest in understanding Peter Young's insights, NLP can then be a piece of cake and you can realize that you reinvent the wheel and discover a model that everyone unconsciously uses to change. Knowing this model and using it at the conscious level will speed change and make it an outcome-directed and/or related. Peter has also addressed the NLP presuppositions from a new angle, and commented on few. I really like very much the way he related some of these presuppositions to his four realities or thinking models.
  4. I am not an NLP practitioner, but, like many consultants and trainers I have been using some of the techniques and principles underlying NLP for a number of years. In Understanding NLP Principles & Practice, Peter Young has managed to compile a book which does exactly what it sets out to do ” to provide a text which describes NLP practice and its origins. He does it in a way which is easy to follow and understand, using a number of models which seek to integrate the practice strands, and using a range of metaphors from film ” he is particularly fond of the Wizard of Oz ” and other stories.

    The book is not a “How To' do NLP, more a description of the techniques and, most importantly, providing a sound theoretical and referenced basis for them. The early chapters in the book contain some useful exercises to demonstrate some of the basic understanding of how change works and the presuppositions of NLP. These exercises do not last throughout the book, and as the discussion moves towards the development of his Six Perceptual Positions model, the reader is left to ponder their own application, assuming a more reflective learning style.

    I am sure that this book offers something to the experienced NLP practitioner, especially in the detailed underpinning of the practice of NLP, but I cannot comment on the description on the cover that it takes understanding of NLP to a higher level. For me, as a trainer and consultant in interpersonal skills, it provided a welcome overview and concise description of the origins and impact of the techniques
  5. With the publication of the 2001 text, Understanding NLP: Metaphors and Patterns of Change, Young assembled into a streamlined paradigm the collection of ideas about Neuro-Linguistic Programming that had evolved since the advent of NLP in the 1970s. This completely revised and renamed second edition reflects recent changes in the author's thinking about the different ways in which people perceive their reality and how they change. The ideas have been extended and refined throughout, creating a new edition designed specifically for those who wish to reexamine their existing knowledge of NLP and enhance their understanding of it. Young is a freelance writer, course designer, and trainer who has written for NLP magazines and presented at NLP conferences.

  6. Who this book is for

    Initially my thought was that it is for everyone. On reflection, I conclude that it is more suited to Practitioners and above who work with therapy and coaching clients. Beginners who have not grasped the basic techniques may have a tougher time trying to get to grips with the Four Realities model and how Peter has applied NLP techniques to his Six Perceptual Positions model.

    Style and Readability
    The cover colour is energetic, exciting, and inviting. The layout is clear and text size is easy on the eyes. Each chapter is easy to follow with appropriate subheadings. The exercises are easy to find as they are printed on a shaded background. The contents match the title; the book is actually about understanding NLP principles and practice. It is very easy to follow and written in a very gentle, caring manner. This is demonstrated in the way Peter has taken the time to go into detail to explain concepts before moving on to the next point.

    It can be tempting to dip into chapters that you are particularly interested in and this may be more worthwhile after you have read the book through at least once.

    In this book, Peter has, to use his words, "combined two basic models: the Three Levels model of Body, Mind and Spirit, and the Four Realities model of styles of cognitive processing " Unitary, Sensory, Social and Mythic " to produce a composite Six Perceptual Positions model which offers an elegant and practical framework for change."

    Peter uses examples from films, stage, stories, drama, and mythology to weave his magic through thirteen chapters covering Understanding NLP, Patterns of Change, How Change Happens, Definitions of NLP, The Philosophy and Presuppositions of NLP, Rapport, Rapport and the Four Realities, Setting Outcomes, Asking Questions, Working with Parts and Roles, Perceptual Positions, Exploring the Metamirror and Conclusion. There is Appendix A outlining Four-fold patterns and Appendix B on Doing NLP Exercises. The Bibliography and index are extensive. The exercises are relevant and useful.

    An element missing in the other NLP books I have read and really value in this book is Peter's explanations about the origins of many of the NLP techniques, with references, so that I can go and read more if I wish. I like the way Peter has taken care to explore and explain the NLP Presuppositions rather than state them as a matter of fact.

    By the end of the book Peter achieves his intention of demonstrating one way of transforming the jumble of pieces into a coherent and structured pattern which gives you a set of guidelines to help you make your own picture.

    "Understanding NLP"also means that you will gain a sense of many alternative worldviews and beliefs about the nature of human existence"

    For me, the indication of a good book is one where I feel stretched by reading it. I certainly feel stretched and taken to a different level in my thinking after having read this book. Furthermore, this is the sort of book that the more it is read, the greater the understanding becomes. I will certainly be reading it again and applying my new learnings to the work I do with clients.

    This book is a welcome addition for NLP Practitioners in all areas who are constantly on the look out for ways to enhance their knowledge and excellence.

    I look forward to Peter's take on the Linguistics side of NLP in his future book: Understanding NLP: Language and Change. Based on this book, I think the next one will also be a joy to read.
  7. This book unfolds to reveal many layers. However, all is explained by the end” Whenever I talk to people about these ideas, I warn them: “Make sure you are OK with knowing that you will never be the same again. These ideas will change how you think about NLP and about your life in general. Once you know this stuff there is no going back.”

    ” from the book When it first appeared, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) offered a radical shake-up of traditional therapy and change techniques. Although some rejected its ground-breaking approach, there were many who welcomed NLP's innovative way of working, and over the last three decades it has expanded greatly. New techniques and therapeutic procedures are constantly being developed and the number of training courses and books grows all the time. Many NLP practitioners believe that only techniques matter. Their books and trainings present students with a mass of useful facts, but with little integration of the material. Understanding NLP by innovative, freelance writer Peter Young overcomes this problem. By integrating into its structure tools from other change systems, and from drama, storytelling and mythology, it utilizes the pattern of human learning to produce a completely systematic way of investigating life. In creating a paradigm for understanding change, it examines aspects such as rapport, the Meta Mirror, the Four Realities model, Bateson's levels of learning, the Satir categories, outcome setting, the NLP language model, modal operators, beliefs, and modeling. Peter Young has written the most definitive book on NLP so far.

    ” Martin Weaver UKCP Reg, NLP Psychotherapist, Supervisor and Health Consultant The most important new contribution to NLP work in years. This book will inspire the next generation in NLP.

    ” Will McWhinney, The Fielding Institute, author of Paths of Change Understanding NLP provides a coherent model of NLP. Exploring four archetypal worldviews and three basic theoretical models, the book is an essential resource for both NLP beginners and practitioners, presenting a wealth of practical exercises and applications while revealing their underlying significance.
  8. This book is recommended reading for those studying or utilizing NLP in their professional activity. Young takes NLP to the next level of understanding by clarifying its underlying principles and concepts. This book makes sense of the structure of thinking and feeling. It also provides a deeper understanding of the big ideas that inform a NLP approach to personal change, rather than focus on individual change processes. By developing a “four realities” framework, and increasing the number of perceptual positions to six, the author has offered practitioners of NLP additional ways to best assist people to perform the key tasks for effective personal change: helping clients to construct clear and positive goals, asking life-changing questions, showing people how to think usefully, and helping people to make meanings that change less than useful responses to life events. This book is a successful attempt to explain how a NLP perspective can re-interpret, re-evaluate and enliven the archetypical patterns and intrinsic elements of what makes for effective human growth and development.
  9. Peter Young brings a new and fresh approach in a market where many books follow much the same route (to the extent of repeated the same old anecdotes from the original works). He offers a modern and insightful approach to the subject, and I was particularly impressed with the chapters on the presuppositions of NLP, rapport, setting outcomes, and, most of all, perceptual positions. Personally I am not totally convinced by Young's four realities model, but he must be congratulated for this completely new approach. Also the title is slightly deceptive. This is not a beginners book " a fairly advanced knowledge and experience of NLP is recommended to get the most out of it.
  10. In this book Peter is working towards an integration of NLP in a four realities model. For the NLP enthusiast it will offer a different view that challenges an -˜NLP tool kit' approach to the subject. For those of you looking to explore NLP even deeper it offers one framework that may well contribute to the future of NLP.
  11. Peter Young has written the most definitive book on NLP so far. More than simply a “workbook” or a teach yourself course this book goes back to the roots of NLP and links some of the basic NLP ideas to the thinking of non-NLP experts in the field. For perhaps the first time an exploration of NLP connects new thinking with the ideas and concepts from which NLP has grown. Some of these ideas and concepts are well know within the field and others will be new. However, in my 12 years of NLP experience I would say that most of what is in this book will not be found in NLP training courses.

    Most people in NLP do it. That the techniques work is clear. Exactly how they work and what is going on in the process of change is far less clear. This book seems to me to be the first time that a systematic description of NLP has been attempted which describes the workings of the change process. Peter Young has succeeded in creating a solid foundation for NLP. There is still a long way to go and yet with this book Peter Young has provided for those who work with or are learning NLP a sound theoretical basis from which to practice.

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