The Art and Science of Effective Relating: Relationships, Relating, Roles and Masks.

An Application of DBM®
John McWhirter,
Creator of DBM®

A defining feature of being human is our need to relate. We are social animals and all social animals need to learn to relate effectively if they are to be successful in their social group. This social relating is a “Subjective Relating” and includes many elements such as bonding, attending, responding, loving, communicating, caring, nurturing, and supporting. Through relating we meet many of our needs especially our social needs and is the basis for our highest attainments of Love, Belonging, Happiness, and Meaningfulness.


From our earliest experience as a baby through to old age we learn to form different kinds of “Relationship” as well as how to develop these relationships for example, from the totally dependant relationship of the baby with mother through to the, hopefully, independent relating of the adult to parent. How these relationships form and function will be the basis of much of our highest life attainment as well as much of our suffering. Knowing more about the range of different relationships and understanding how to develop them in our selves and others can greatly enhance our life experience.


As well as many types of relationship there are many different types of “Relating” and many different ways to perform the relating. With the demands of our modern society this variation and complexity makes the coordinating of these different kinds and ways of relating incredibly challenging and many people suffer as a result of not knowing how to relate appropriately or from relating in ways that are ineffective or even destructive.

Our ability to relate is not confined to social relating. As social animals we need to make sense of the world, to understand how the world works in order to respond effectively to meet our needs. The ability to perform this “relating” of how the world is organised, and how it functions is learnt and can be done in many different ways. This is an “Objective Relating” and some of the ways of objectively relating are more effective than others. If we can identify the most effective ways we would have a more accurate understanding and a richer basis for meeting our needs.

These two, our subjective and objective relating, are interrelated. We relate to the world as we understand it and we understand it through relating to it.


As part of the complexity of modern life we have to relate very differently in different contexts, and with different people in the same context. For this we develop an ability to perform and change “Roles”. Roles allow us to isolate specific behaviours, values and responsibilities and to concentrate on a narrower range of needs to be fulfilled. They allow us to do things that may not be important to ourselves a whole person, indeed they allow us to ignore other needs and responsibilities in order to make some things easier to do, such as professional jobs and family responsibilities. This strength is also what makes them potentially harmful, for example, if we sacrifice our deeper needs in order to fulfil a more superficial role. To avoid this risk we need to relate and integrate roles with ourselves as a whole person. This is another very important skill in relating.


For some of our “relating” and “roles” we want to emphasise some communication or meaning and hide others. For this we develop an ability to use “Masks”. At their most formal “masks” are physical things and have been created in many cultures as physical things to represent gods or demons, animals or monsters. In our behaviour they range from putting on a “happy face”, a “serious face”, “looking professional” through to the actors makeup. Masks also allow us to “hide” some of our true feeling and responses, something that all social animals learn to do, putting on a “brave face” to hide our fear. Some uses of masks can result in disconnecting us from relating honestly and effectively, some can trap us in superficial roles, others can stop us developing and fulfilling ourselves as human beings.

Another challenge in modern society is the effective relating of Relating, Roles and Masks. This training will offer a range of distinctions, understanding, and skills to manage relating effectively that have been created by John McWhirter through his modelling methodology of Developmental Behavioural Modelling DBM®.

Developmental Behavioural Modelling DBM®

All of us build our understanding of the world around us based on our experience. We continue to create and change this understanding throughout our lives. We call this understanding that each of us creates our ‘model’ of the world. By a model we mean “an organised dynamic representation of our world”. We do not respond to the world as it is. We respond to how we have made sense of it, how it is “meaningful” to us. We then respond to new things based on what we already “know”. Instincts build in responses for animals but human beings need to learn how to respond in our cultures, organisations, countries and families. This learning, the building of a model, is a process of Modelling. All our cognition and all our emotions are based on our understanding of reality, on our models of the world.

We build and use models; our clients build and use models. As professional we are more likely to build formal models (including theories) to extend our informal or “naturalistic” modelling. Both informal understanding and the formal understanding of science are models (and theories) built through the process of modelling. No matter what the epistemology underlying a theory both the epistemology and the theory require to be created in the first place.

Developmental Behavioural Modelling DBM® is the formal studying of the complete range of modelling. This includes the structure and function of models, how models are formally and informally constructed and applied. DBM® offers a practical and verifiable set of distinctions, models and processes for identifying HOW we relate, WHY we relate, HOW learn and improve our relating, WHAT to do to help others to relate better.

Modelling Relating With Developmental Behavioural Modelling DBM®

In this workshop John will introduce the key distinctions, models and processes for effective Relating he has created through the application of the modeling field of Developmental Behavioural Modelling (DBM®). John has been modeling the process of relating for over 30 years integrating his creative modeling with his work as a modeler, therapist, teacher and consultant together with extensive research and study including systems theory, communication theory, and information theory.

DBM® allows us to investigate in detail where relating fails or is problematic for example inappropriate, stagnant, abusive, manipulative, exploitative. DBM® also provides a wide range of understanding, distinctions, skills, models and processes to identify and resolve these relating problems.

John has also modelled in detail how the different Relating Behaviours work how they relate to each other including

The Training

This training is NOT about simplistic tricks and “quick fixes“. The workshop IS about developing a deeper understanding, an increased sensitivity, and more effective skills that when used appropriately will improve the quality all aspects of relationship and relating and the quality of life for all involved.

The training uses a combination experiential learning, and direct instruction within a caring and protective environment. Openness and willingness to explore and share experiences with others is a pre-requisite for all involved and will used to both create and test the new understanding and skills in communication.

Participants will learn:

The Science of Relationship, Relating, Roles and Masks; how they works, the processes and dynamics of Relationship, Relating, Roles and Masks
The Art of Relationship, Relating, Roles and Masks; how to create relationship, Relating, Roles and Masks

Core Syllabus:

  • The function of Relationships
  • Different kinds of Relationship
  • The function of Relating
  • Different kinds of Relating
  • The function of Roles
  • Different kinds of Roles
  • The function of Masks
  • Different kinds of Masks
  • Effective and Ineffective Relationships, Relating, Roles and Masks
  • Coordinating Relationship, Relating, Roles and Masks
  • The Benefits and Dangers of Relationships, Relating, Roles and Masks
  • Developmental Relating: the application of the Relating process for specific personal and professional developments
  • Self Developing Relationships, Relating, Roles and Masks
  • Helping others to Develop Relationships, Relating, Roles and Masks
  • DBM® Relate To, With, As Model.
  • Muti-Functional Relating
  • Multi-Level Relating
  • DBM® Hierarchical, Heterarchical, and Multiarchical Relations Model
  • DBM® Communication Model.
  • DBM® Analogue, Digital and Differential Information Model.
  • DBM® Performative, Literal and Metaphoric Communication Model.
  • Sensory sensitivity and how to develop sensory skills.
  • DBM® Sensory Experience, Meaning, Significance Model.
  • DBM® Input, Relate, Compute, Output Model.
  • DBM® Transitions Fiction, False Facts, Fallacies, Faults Model.
  • DBM® Dictate, Communicate, Relate Model.
  • DBM® Emit, Transmit, Communicate Model.
  • DBM® Openings, Opportunities, Choices Model.
  • DBM® Information, Understanding, Orientation Model.
  • DBM® Types of Distinction.
  • DBM® Managing Labels.
  • DBM® Types of Nothing.
  • DBM® Types of Feeling.
  • DBM® Types of Thinking.
  • DBM® Types of Doing.
  • DBM® Subjective, Objective, Contextual Communication Model.
  • DBM® Describe, Explain, Justify.
  • Muti-Functional Communication
  • Multi-Level Communication

Key Background Distinctions and Models

  • DBM® Natural Modelling, Mythical, Metaphoric, Magical, Formal Modelling
  • Causal and Transitional Modelling
  • DBM® Fractal Modelling
  • DBM® Life Skills Model
  • Specific Life Skills
  • DBM® Self Management Model
  • DBM® Consultancy Model
  • (Integration of Advising, Counselling, Therapy, Consulting, Teaching, Training and Coaching)
  • DBM® Knowledge Trees
  • DBM® Motivation and Attainment Model
  • DBM® Field Model
  • DBM® The modelling of Mind Model: 11 B’s
  • DBM® Transitions Model
  • DBM® Twelve Patterns of Change
  • DBM® Three models of Change
  • DBM® Seven Types of Change
  • DBM® Processing Preferences
  • DBM® Systemic Leadership Model
  • DBM® Motivation and Attainment model
  • DBM® Seven Types of Transitions
  • DBM® Five Stages of Transitions
  • DBM® Life Grid
  • DBM® Subjective, Objective, Context Model
  • DBM® Evaluation Model
  • DBM® Coaching D.A.N.C.E. Model


John has over 30 years experience in creativity. For 10 years in the 1980’s he worked in Social Work development projects to create new services for children and families. As part of this he created new intervention processes and new types of interventions in schools, family homes, and in the street. Through his experience and through exploring a range of therapies he identified the potential in the behavioural modelling that created Neuro-Linguistic Programming. He worked for Richard Bandler, the co-creator of NLP from 1989 – 1993. Richard certified him as a Master Trainer of NLP in 1990 in recognition of his therapy and hypnosis skills and encouraged hi to develop his modelling interests. From 1986 he had created the first models and ideas for DBM® and applied them to “Re-Model” the NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner syllabus making it more precise and effective.


Since 1993 he has greatly extended DBM® into a complete field of over 550 models. His experience in applying modelling as a therapist and consultant, creating a unique model for every client, requires creativity in a daily basis. As a business consultant he has developed many new models, processes and solutions. As a trainer he has created over 4,000 hours of different training content ranging from the University Masters degree in DBM® at the University of Valencia, Systemic Therapy and Consultancy, over 60 different Art and Science course, to the new Professional Certification as Behavioural Modeller.