NLP Milton Model : Introduction
The Milton Model is one of the techniques used for Neuro-linguistic Programming or Neuro-linguistic therapy, and was co-created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder using the hypnotic techniques developed by Milton H. Erickson, who was well known for founding clinical hypnotherapy. The principles of the Milton Model are a sharp contrast to the ones used in the Meta Model of Neuro-linguistic Programming, both of which form the basis for the development of the field of Neuro-linguistic Programming.
Unlike the Meta Model, the Milton Model relies essentially on skillful vagueness of the language. The fundamental principle of Milton Model is that a generalized use of the language and a wider scope will generate a clear, complete understanding of the problem at hand. On the other hand, limiting the scope of the thought process by using explicit language will result in exclusion of vital aspects of the issue and important concepts of the person’s experience. The model lists down the type of patterns and parts of speech that must be used in order to help the client find the correct line of thought, and help him include all the actual details, feelings and beliefs that lie beneath an experience by using generic terms for questioning.
Dr. Richard Bandler and Dr. John Grinder used to meet up with Milton H. Erickson regularly to model his techniques and work spanning a period of several months. The duo published their first book on the Milton Model in 1975, named “Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson Volume I”. In 1977, they went on to publish the second volume of their research into the book named “Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson Volume II”. These two books are described to have formed the foundation of the Milton Model, which proposes using vague language in order to help the client reach the depths of his unconscious mind rather than wander about and restrict his thoughts on a conscious level.
The Goal of Using Milton Model Techniques
The techniques employed by the Milton Model are most commonly used for reaching into the unconscious depths of the mind, where the actual information of an experience is stored, and then retrieving this information by helping the client reach an altered state of mind. The goal is to prevent the client from using his conscious mind, which usually tends to distort the facts, modify or delete key aspects of the experience. The Milton Model also tries to follow and understand the reality as perceived by the client in order to build a genuine rapport or portrait of the event.
The Milton Model used in Neuro-linguistic Programming suggests that a conscious mind will create resistance to any authoritative statements made by the therapist using Neuro-linguistic training. Therefore, it is not feasible to reach the unconscious mind by using conscious commanding instructions. By using statements that are more open in nature, include metaphors, present new opportunities or contain contradictions, the therapist can reach the unconscious mind more easily.
This is known as hypnotic suggestion. It leaves room for thought for the client, who can then fill in appropriate details in the present gaps using their unconscious mind. The client in this case may be unaware of the actual happening, as his unconscious mind has temporarily taken over, which resembles a kind of trance. An expert therapist trained in Neuro-linguistic courses can adeptly create such gaps as per the specific mental state of the client and thereby cause a desired result.
The main reason behind using the unconscious mind to create a change in behavior is that a conscious mind will not heed to the suggestions of the therapist because of the person’s tendency to exhibit resistance. In general, people are slightly scared or skeptical about hypnosis and its therapeutic powers. They will therefore exhibit a special kind of resistance to any authoritative suggestions of the therapist using Neuro-linguistic training. Milton Erickson realized that this resistance should not be mitigated; instead, it should be accepted as natural by the therapist trained in Neuro-linguistic courses and utilized to generate a responsive behavior. Erickson suggested that a good therapist should always give an opportunity to the patient to exhibit resistance. Any effort made by the therapist to modify or rectify the clients behavior by forcing them to take certain actions against their wishes, will result in subduing the state of trance, and the unconscious mind of the client will not reached.
On the other hand, if a therapist trained in Neuro-linguistic courses can accept and use the initial resistance of the client to his advantage, leading to the client accepting at least one suggestion of the therapist; the client will then more willingly accept any further suggestions. The primary skill of the therapist using Neuro-linguistic training then depends on finding the first suggestion that the client can readily agree to. The client will feel more comfortable with a therapist who encourages the client to choose and respond to a suggestion as per their wish, and not because the therapist is forcing them to take a certain action.
More often than not, the initial resistance exhibited by the client is just a measure of testing the therapist, whether the therapist is willing to adjust to the clients’ demands instead of merely asking them to do certain things.
As an example, if the client has an incessant habit of biting nails, the therapist trained in Neuro-linguistic courses would encourage the client to grow his nails more in order to enjoy the true pleasures of the biting process. The client then grows all his nails deciding to bite them after they reach a certain length. Over a period, the client loses interest in the activity, not feeling the desire of biting nails any more.
The Relationship between the Unconscious Mind and NLP
The core concept behind the Milton Model in Neuro-linguistic Programming is that the unconscious mind is always alert, and listening to the external world. Suggestions made by the therapist trained in Neuro-linguistic courses can have a hypnotic influence on the patient, provided they are in accord with the openness and uninhibited characteristics of the unconscious mind. The patient might well by oblivious to the surroundings or the actual happenings.
With the aid of indirect suggestions, the therapist can cause the unconscious mind to be actively involved in the therapeutic process. Even a seemingly normal conversation with the therapist using Neuro-linguistic training can have a therapeutic effect on the patient, by employing the unconscious mind using hypnotic trance.
The Milton Model allows the therapist practicing Neuro-linguistic Programming to enter a state of trance, as it helps the therapist to be more open and understanding of the language nuances and choice of words of the patient. A trance can help the Neuro-linguistic therapist listen more attentively what the client is trying to portray, and then see the underlying details and beliefs more clearly.
According to Erickson, the state of being in trance is a common phenomenon. We get involved in certain activities everyday, which cuts us off from the surrounding extraneous stimuli, engrossing our entire attention on a particular pursuit. The activity could be anything that is common, such as watching television, listening to music, exercising, reading a book or working. This immersion can be called a state of trance, and is so common that we generally do not recognize entering this hypnotic experience. In such cases, our attention is captured by the activity, either with some question of through an unusual interesting experience.
When our interest is captured, the left or the right brain takes over, and we tend to give a blank or lost gaze. In some cases when the brain is engaged in an activity such as recalling a name or experience, the eye lids close, the body becomes temporarily motionless, involuntary actions such as breathing, swallowing are subdued, and a state is reached where the conscious mind in impervious to the surroundings until the unconscious mind has finished its thought process or activity. Once the activity is over, the patient comes back to the normal conscious state of reality.
It can be said that we constantly keep on switching between momentary trance and actual reality in our everyday life.
NLP Milton Model Conclusion
The Milton Model of Neuro-linguistic Programming therefore uses this basic phenomenon of being in trance to reach the unconscious mind. It is quite easy to help a client reach a state of trance, using certain non-verbal and verbal methods developed by Erickson. Erickson established the concept that day-to-day experiences such as confusion, engrossment and astonishment are nothing but a state of trance. Using these techniques, and indirect suggestion, the patient can be helped to overcome his problems, fears and bad habits using Neuro-linguistic therapy.
Another technique was the handshake induction. Here the usual pattern of a handshake is interrupted in between, resulting in a light trance. Since the process of doing a handshake is well known and widely recognized, any variation in the method will make the receiver enter a state of wonder or inner search. Any suggestion made at this point will not be heard by the conscious mind. Richard Bandler particularly supported the handshake induction method, and created his own version, which he taught at several Neuro-linguistic training workshops.