Part Thirteen: Part C Re-Modelling Perceptual Positioning and Processing

This article first appeared in Rapport 58, Winter 2002

New Models

Having identified that much of the key perceptual processing is beyond the PP model, even with my additions, the next step is to build new models that supply the necessary detail. The result will be a more extensive, accurate and useful model.

Benefits of New Modelling

  1. Even better at fulfilling the identified benefits of subjective processing.
  2. Offers additional benefits of developmental modelling.
  3. Identifies new processes
  4. Promotes new skills
  5. Leads to new techniques
  6. Greatly increases in our understanding of subjective experience and a subsequently offers a richer basis for further modelling of subjective processing
  7. Promotes a developmental approach and avoids the “dead-end dogmatic thinking of closed models
  8. An explicit modelling of double vision and multiple description.

The PP model identifies different positions to process “FROM”. We can improve on this by also including what we are attending “TO”. We can improve on this further if we include the context to process “IN”. These elements are integrated in the DBM “In-From-To” model.

In – From – To Model

The aim of this model is to identify the three universal components in any information processing. No matter what position is adopted you are always somewhere (Spike Milligan), attending to something in relation to some context. As you are attending to these words, you are attending from a particular point of view and within a context of ‘learning’, ’curiosity’, maybe even criticism. As you make sense of what you read there will emerge an internal ‘from’ and ‘to’; you will be attending to the sense you make from a subtly different spatial position.

The In-From-To model can replace the PP model as a guide to positioning. It is more naturalistic in language and does not need to be learnt by clients, as they already know how these terms function, although they won’t have used them systematically in a formal model.

Comparison of instruction using PP model and In-From-To Model

In the following table I have given a comparison of the two models in use. I have also highlighted some elements in the PP model text that indicates some of the variations outlined above. You will also notice that there is a lot use of “To” and “From” and relevant subjective and objective language when instructions for the PP model get more specific. In addition notice that with the PP model specific distinctions need to be ‘taught’ to the subject whereas with the In-From-To model they are followed by presupposition. This highlights the potential for conversational and informal change.


PP Model In-From-To Model
Adapted from Dilts and DeLozier (2000), P. 9421. “Think of a relationship you have with someone you consider a mentor or a ‘sponsor’. Equivalent instructions using this model1. Think of someone important to you that you think of as a mentor.
2. “Put yourself fully into 1st position by imagining that the mentor is here right now and that you are looking at him or her 2. From your point of view, if they were here now how does he or she look.
3. “Now imagine that you are “in the shoes” of this person looking at yourself. Take on the perspective, beliefs and assumptions of the mentor; as if you were that person for a moment. From this perspective describe the you that is in first position and express your feelings (as the mentor) about that person. Use second person language (“you”) when you refer to the first position you. 3. If you were living as them at this moment looking at you. How are things from this ‘mentor’ perspective. Describe what are you thinking and feeling as you attend to the world from here. From this mentor perspective, looking over at you, what feeling do you have about that you there, making sure to talk cleanly from this point of view.
4. Now view the relationship between yourself and the mentor as if you were watching the movie of both of you interacting. Keep in mind what you have experienced about past perspectives, beliefs, assumptions and feelings of both yourself and your mentor. 4. Now from an outside point of view look at you and the mentor interacting together keeping in mind all you know for a fact about both of them, their beliefs, assumptions and feelings.
5. Explore this observer point of view, restricting yourself to what you know about only your own beliefs and assumptions (leaving out any knowledge of the mentor’s internal experience).
How does that influence your perception from this perspective?
5. Explore things from this point of view including what you know about your own beliefs and assumptions while being careful not to bring in any thoughhts you have about the mentors possible internal experience. How does this influence your perception from this perspective?
6. Staying in this observer perspective, view the interaction as if you did not know either of the people, as if you were watching a “movie”. How does that change your perspective? 6. Keep attending from this point of view and imagine that they are both strangers to you. How does that change your perspective?

With the In-From-To model more complex instructions are equally easy to give. How would you use the PP model to give the following instructions?

Exploration Exercise:

Follow the instructions and then reflect on your experience. How would you describe the relationship within and between the of experiences:

a. Using the perceptual positions model to think about it.
b. Using the relationship of In, From and To.

“Become aware of yourself and how you feel at the moment. Think of things you could do this weekend. What comes to mind?
Thinking as a friend, what comes to mind? Thinking as a family member, what comes to mind?
Thinking as a professional, what comes to mind?
Thinking as an individual, what comes to mind?
Thinking as a whole person with many interests and responsibilities, what comes to mind?
In terms of relaxation what could you do and how could it be useful for each of these aspects? Think of the next few weeks, does that make a difference to what would be useful? Think of the next few years, does that make a difference?
Repeat in terms of family harmony.
Repeat in terms of your professional development.
Repeat in terms of novelty and excitement.
Repeat in terms of meaningfulness.
Now feel yourself doing all of these and notice what feels the most relevant for you to be doing.”

My modelling of the work of Milton Erickson was greatly enhanced by these models that I created. It became easier to track multiple processing as well as multi-level processing. The In-From-To Model can also be used for multiple processing (4th position), “from the point of view of the group, how do you think things are going?” It is also used for “fractal Modelling”, and advanced DBM modelling tools.

DBM Structural Processing Model

I have been committed to a systems approach for over twenty years, indeed my own company “Sensory Systems” was chosen to emphasise this. In recent years I have noticed an increase in reference to systems and systems thinking. Initially I was really pleased but became increasingly uncomfortable, something felt wrong. Although I was hearing references to systems and systems thinking many of the people I was hearing this from were still operating in the same old linear thinking style. I came across the same thing in a number of organisations I was working with. Managers would use systems flow diagrams but they were outside the system, talking from a single point of view rather than from the system. Over many years of modelling I recognise this feeling as a great source of new modelling. In this case I used the “In-From-To” model, as a common element in most of the examples was how people were thinking “From” and how they attended “To”, together with a number of models of thinking that I had created and eventually created the following model. This model outlines the different processing structures in the three areas of In, From and To. It is easy to realise what I was reacting to. Systems thinking is an objective skill in attending to. It is very different from thinking systemically, the subjective skill of thinking from. This model is useful for much more. It outlines the progressive development of attending to simple units, atomic processing; of attending from a single perspective, attending atomically.

Processing INContextual ProcessingStructures Processing FROMSubjective ProcessingStructures Processing TO Objective ProcessingStructures
Atomic Thought Thinking Atomically Atomic Thinking
Component Thought Thinking Componently Component Thinking
Linear Thought Thinking Linearly Linear Thinking
Circular Thought Thinking Circularly Circular Thinking
Recursive Thought Thinking Recursively Recursive Thinking
Systemic Thought Thinking Systemically Systemic Thinking
Hierarchical Thought Thinking Hierarchically Hierarchical Thinking
Heterarchical Thought Thinking Heterarchically Heterarchical Thinking
Eclectic Thought Thinking Eclectically Eclectic Thinking
Holistic Thought Thinking Holistically Holistic Thinking
Developmental Thought Thinking Developmentally Developmental Thinking
Ecological Thought Thinking Ecologically Ecological Thinking
Evolutionary Thought Thinking Evolutionary Evolutionary Thinking
Revolutionary Thought Thinking Revolutionary Revolutionary Thinking
Subjective Processing Development Exercise

This is a very rich model. The following exercise gives a simple introduction to the different elements and how they can be practised to improve your flexibility and choice in perceptual processing. We will only use the FROM and TO for this exercise. The IN greatly increases the possibilities but space is limited. After you have explored this exercise the changes in context (IN) may be easier to work out and use.

Continuing: These instructions (28 in all, 42 if we had included the context instructions, now where else have I read that number?) direct the subject’s perceptual processing in very different ways.Integrated ModelIN DBM we have integrated a number of these models for more effective application. When they are coordinated they operate as a true multiple description with the subsequent increase in relatedness and information.Note the hierarchy of structure and function. Bateson identified a similar structure in a number of communication and information processing models (Mind and Nature p. 194 –197).Concluding CommentsOur perceptual processing is a central life skill. Any models that help us to understand ourselves, and others, more, can be used to make the most useful changes.For beginners, the simple Perceptual Positions model is ideal. It draws attention to other areas to attend to in any interaction. As it is presented, as a complete model, it can be a dead end in terns of skill development. This is evident in the number of advanced NLP practitioners and trainers who use only this model.The original model of Satir’s outlined by Bandler and Grinder, that doesn’t seem to have been included in the creation of New Code Perceptual Positions model, is richer in distinction as it outlines what to attend to: self, other or context. The down side of the increase in richness is the extra commitment required to learn them.As a modeller, even the Satir distinction supplemented by Bandler and Grinder were insufficient for modelling the subtleties of our human subjective processing that I was exploring. To improve my modelling, I needed to once again increase my understanding of our perceptual processing. This required using modelling to model the HOW and WHY of subjective processing. Over many years of modelling, I created new models that could operate at the level of precision I required. These models offered many new possibilities for the modeller, therapist, consultant and educator. As with the Satir model the extra benefits of these new models also require more commitment on the part of the student.This range of tools offers a set of effective models for guiding the changing of perceptual processing. The level chosen will reflect the level of precision required by the user. I hope that readers interested in developing precision will be encouraged to experiment and explore other models beyond the basic ones, especially if you have experienced the frustration of simple classroom models not working beyond the classroom. In addition to more precision offered, there is also the potential satisfaction from a deeper understanding of the richness of our subjective processing through the ability to investigate and develop a deeper understanding.Using these models and improving our modelling skills will not only offer many new possibilities; it will also make us even better modellers, improve our flexibility and creativity, our openness to experience life in its fullest – as a whole and in detail.In the next article, I will outline some re-modelling of ‘Association’ and ‘Disassociation’ building on the In-From-To model. To get even more from this article, you could explore, ahead of time, your own experience of these concepts and what you have experienced in relation to them. You will then be in an even better position to use the article for your own learning.References: Bandler, Richard & Grinder, John, The Structure of Magic vol.1, Science and Behaviour Books, Inc 1975 Bandler, Richard, Grinder, John, and Satir, Virginia, Changing with Families, Science and Behaviour Books, 1976 Bateson, Gregory, Mind and Nature, Dutton, 1979 Bateson, Gregory, Angels Fear, Rider 1988 Bateson, Gregory and Ruesch, Jurgen, Communication, The Social Matrix Of Psychiatry, Norton & Co. 1951 Bateson, Gregory, Sacred Unity, Further Steps To An Ecology Of Mind, Harper Collins 1991 Dilts, Robert and DeLozier, Judith, Encyclopaedia of NLP, Grinder, John, and Bandler, Richard, The Structure of Magic vol.I1, Science and Behaviour Books, Inc 1976 Grinder, John, DeLozier, Judith, Turtles All the Way Down, Grinder, DeLozier and Associates 1987 McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 1 – Models and Modelling, Rapport (1998) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 2 – Re-Modelling Language, Rapport (1999) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 3 – Feeling, Conflict and Integration, Rapport (1999) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 4 – Basic Structures and Processes, Rapport (1999) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 5 – Planning, Problem-Solving, Outcomes and Achieving, Rapport (1999) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 6 – Understanding Change, Rapport (2000) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 7 – Facilitating Change, Rapport (2000) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 8 – Performing Change, Rapport (2000) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 9 – Organising Change, Rapport (2001) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 10 – Unconscious Processes and Hypnosis, Rapport (2001) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 11 – Metaphors, Rapport (2001) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 12A – Hypnotic Inductions and Hypnotherapy, Rapport (2001) McWhirter, Re-Modelling NLP, Part 12B – Hypnotic Inductions and Hypnotherapy, Rapport (2002) Perls, F., Hefferline, Ralph, F., and Goodman, Paul, Gestalt Therapy, Penguin Books 1973 (1st published 1951) Stevens, John, O., Awareness, Real Peoples Press, 1971DBM is a registered trademark of Sensory Systems Training.John can be contacted at:
Sensory Systems Training
162 Queens Drive
Queens Park
Glasgow G42 8QN
Phone: 0141 424 4177

Instruction Attending “TO”
Look around the room and begin by attending TO a simple object Atomic
Notice what other objects are in the room Component
Move your attention from one object to the other Linear
Keep moving your attention back and forward from one object to the other Circular
As you keep moving your attention back and forward what influence does the one object have on the other Recursive
What is the relationship between the two objects Systemic
Is one more important than the other Hierarchical
How could the other one become more important Heterarchical
Where could these objects be used Eclectic
What is the overall use of the objects Holistic
How will the objects naturally change over the next twenty years Developmental
How do these objects fit within their environment Ecological
How could these objects become something more that they are now Evolutionary
What could they usefully become Revolutionary
Instruction Attending “FROM”
Notice how you are now Atomically
How are you feeling and thinking Componently
Move your attention from your thinking to your feeling Linearly
Keep your attention flowing back and forth Circularly
Bring your feeling into your thinking and your thinking into your feeling Recursively
Feel your feeling and thinking relating together Systemically
Make one of them more important Hierarchically
Now make the other most important Heterarchically
What else can you think about Eclectically
How is all your thinking connecting together Holistically
What is your sense of the changing direction of your thinking Developmentally
Is this appropriate for your life as a whole Ecologically
What is the next major step forward in your thinking Evolutionarily
What radical changes will improve your overall well-being Revolutionarily
Structure –
Level From To In
Process How From To In
Structure What Processing From Processing To Processing In
Process Why (What) Subjective Objective Contextual
Structure How Placater Blamer Computer
Process What Feel Visual and Auditory External Auditory Digital
Structure Where 1st Position 2nd Position 3rd Position