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The Art and Science of Effectively Developing from Setbacks.

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves. – Gandhi

Life is seldom perfectly predictable and easy; it is full of challenges; from simple things like working a new DVD player through economic depressions and redundancy to accidents and bereavement.

Some of these challenges will result in disruption, some sort of “upset” at some time in our lives; from simple things like the computer crashing, the car breaking down, through to the more serious upsets of economic downturns, illness, traumas, and bereavement. These experiences, large and small, upset our stable well being in life. Often the larger challenges result setbacks to our development in life.

Often when we are disrupted we right ourselves and keep going. Sometimes the disruption sets us back; from undermining our confidence, creating anxiety and fear to negative developments such as reduced self esteem and aspirations.

Our immediate need in response to disruption and setbacks is to COPE. Coping is necessary to stabilise things so that we can then intervene in a useful way. Sadly all too often people do not get beyond coping.

Not all attempts at coping are useful. Frequently advice is offered by friends and family to help people to cope with the upset, the discomfort and emotional pain. Common advice such as “forget about it”, “give it time”, “time is a great healer”, “move on”, “put it behind you” while well intended would, if followed, be detrimental and result in further loss.

While coping is necessary it does not by itself right things, work toward making things better, to “Recovering” from the setback. Just as there are many different ways that we can be setback there are also many different ways to recover. These include: Recovery, Convalescence, Healing, Improvement, Mending Rallying, Recuperation, Return to health, Revival, Turn for the better, Amelioration, Improvement, Rehabilitation, Restoration, Revival, Upturn, Recapture, Reclaim, Redemption, Repair, Repossess, Restoration, Recapturing, Returning, Rebalancing, Righting, Returning, Re-establishing, Re-Aligning, Going Back, Getting Back, Healing, Mending, Balancing, Harmonising, and Retrieval.

With such a selection an additional challenge is selecting the most appropriate form of recovery. We often take longer to recover, expending too much energy or effort in the process because we are not taught explicitly the most effective ways to recover. Even if we have one effective way it is unlikely to be effective for all upsets. Time and effort can be wasted pursuing forms of recovery that are inappropriate and on occasions damaging.

The more effectively we recover the less the upsets will reduce our happiness and quality of life.

Development is necessary in life if we are to adapt to changes in the world and to optimise our ability to deal effectively with the world and to maximise quality of life.

Coping and recovering are always only effective when evaluated in relation to our development. Indeed if we resist change and always recover our old ways we will not be developing in response to new things in the world. Sometimes trying to right things, to recover, is not the most useful response. Only if we maintain a developmental perspective can we choose the most effective developmental response to setbacks; to recover or move on, to make new changes

Some forms of Coping and also some forms of recovery can actually result in negative developments. When we try to get back how we were before the setback we are attempting the impossible. We can only move forward in life. We may be able to re-create something similar but we can never create exactly the same thing as before. We can never recreate the former innocence and we now have the memory of the upset and setback that we didn’t have before. Thankfully there is also the possibility to make things better than before.

Ideally we would combine all three levels of responding to setbacks. From an overall prioritising of development we would work effectively to cope developmentally while also working to recover, make things better, developmentally.

This is what John McWhirter has created with Developmental Behavioural Modelling DBM®.

What is DBM®

Developmental Behavioural Modelling DBM®is a new field that offers a unique set of skills. The uniqueness lies in that it operates at a deeper level than the usual techniques and ready-made answers and solutions. DBM® is a methodology not a fixed method. It offers a set of behavioural modelling skills to apply in any situation. DBM DBM® modelling skills are used to identify the specific needs of the situation and to create answers that fit the particular circumstances rather than applying a pre-packaged solution. This makes DBM® a very practical approach. It also means that there is a greater need for skills and appropriate models.

Over twenty years of development and practical applications in Social Services, Education, psychotherapy and Business have gone into the development of DBM. John McWhirter, the developer and Master Trainer of NLP, has drawn upon the most effective approaches in therapy, education and business together with skills and approaches of Neuro-linguistic Programming, Ericksonian hypnotherapy, Gestalt therapy, General Semantics, all within a framework developed from the work of Gregory Bateson, Cybernetics and Systems theory. The result is a constantly developing field that works with the total situation applies modelling technology through a systems methodology and the developmental modelling to ‘re-model’ the situation.

Developmental Behavioural Modelling is a revolutionary approach to understanding human behaviour and learning. One of the achievements of this modelling was the creation of a methodology for NLP – an explanation of how NLP works. By integrating his developments of NLP with Systems Theory, Cybernetics and the work of Gregory Bateson, he has been developing a model that explains why change occurs.

Initially DBM® was used to improve the quality and effectiveness of Sensory Systems’ NLP training. It has been further developed through application in the fields of personal development, therapy, education, and business consultancy

The DBM® Developing from Setbacks Framework

This integrated framework is designed to work developmentally with all stages of working in relation to setbacks from preventative (with the Robust, Resilient and Resistant to Change Model) through to managing different types of Coping, different types of righting things (Recovery) and Developing form Setbacks.


The DBM® Developing from Setbacks Framework









1. CopeBehavioural priority and necessary basis for righting and developing..

“It is not length of life, but depth of life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. Recover / make rightTraditional level of righting Setbacks (recovery).

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”


3. DevelopThe life priority; improving our ability to live effectively, meaningfully and happily.

Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”



Who can benefit from The DBM® Developing from Setbacks Framework?

Everyone can benefit personally from the effective application of the developing from setbacks model. It will be especially useful for setbacks in the fields of sports, health, education and therapy. It is also very useful for managers and business consultants for working with financial setbacks, project setbacks and career setbacks.