Solution Focused Addictions Counselling
Ricardo B. Serrano, R.Ac.
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"What a piece of bread looks like depends on whether you are hungry or not."

- Arabic saying

NLP Model and Presuppositions on Addictions

"What are in the mind of the addicted individuals? What are their beliefs and values that drove them to do their addictive behaviour? What are the NLP model and presuppositions in regards to chemical dependency?" you might have wondered.

NLP is a model. It is not a theory nor is it concerned with the ultimate truth of human behaviour. I would like to share my thoughts and answers to the above questions according to Neuro Linguistic Programming model (NLP) and its Feedback Frame versus the Failure Frame. Writing about addictions brought in mind the difference between the Feedback Frame & Failure Frame which is:


Outcome: what do you want?
Feedback: how can you learn?
How: how did that happen?
Opportunity: how is this an opportunity?

  Problem: what's wrong?
  Failure: whose fault is it?
  Why: why did that happen?
  Limitation: how could that limit you?

From the above difference between the two frames and the questions asked, anyone can obviously see why the Failure Frame is doomed to failure while the Feedback Frame is the preferred choice because it is solution focused. The addicted individuals obviously must have used the Failure Frame of mind which led them to perpetuate their addictions.

Let me relate or test the case of addictions to the first presupposition upon which NLP model is built which is that:

Everyone lives in their own unique model of the world. Reality is a function of agreement. (People operate most out of their internal maps and not out of sensory experience.)

Whoever is addicted to drugs and alcohol are addicted because he acted out of his internal map (set smart outcomes to experience his core beliefs or values - internal maps - behind his positive intention and he'll quit his addiction).

The second NLP presupposition which is applicable is that:

People always make the best choices available to them given their unique model of the world and of the situation. Meet them at their model of the world: resistance is an opportunity for agreement.

Whoever is addicted was responsible for his addiction when he took that choice because it is the only choice or the only model he knows best to deal with his model of his world or situation.

The third NLP presupposition that strikes me best as a solution focused oriented individual is that:

There is a solution (a desirable outcome) to every problem.

Whoever is addicted didn't apply this presupposition in finding a desirable outcome (solution) to their problem as shown above in the Feeback Frame.

The fourth NLP presupposition which should have been followed by the addicted individuals is that:

People possess the resources they need: the task is to organize these resources. Everyone already has everything they need from their own personal history to solve all of their problems. All they need to do is to figure out how to get what they want.

The addicted individuals didn't organize properly their resources because of their very limited choice (Failure Frame) rather than have more choices by gathering more information about their problem as shown above in the Feedback Frame.

The following NLP presuppositions which is at the heart of NLP is that:

   It is important to remember that the explanation, story, or metaphor used to relate facts about the person is not the person.
   It is useful to make a distinction between a person and the behaviour they exhibit. Especially when someone is learning something new, make a point to evaluate the behaviours only, while holding constant a positive valuation of self.
   Similarly, the behaviour a person exhibits is separate from the intention or purpose of that behaviour. It is useful to assume that the intention is positive. People make the best choice they can for themselves at any given moment, and their messages and behaviours deserve to be respected.

The addicted individual's positive intention behind their behaviour is commonly one of the values everyone is seeking such as Beingness, Inner peace, Love, OKness and Oneness. I would assume that the value for them would be beingness or OKness.

The other NLP presupposition which is applicable to our topic is that:

The meaning of a communication is the response it elicits. Obviously, "good intentions" make no difference if people "receive" a different communication. Their response is what matters.

There is definitely a communication problem among the addicted individuals conscious and unconscious mind regarding their addiction. Their "good intentions" made no difference because the unconscious response (peace, calm, okness) is what matters to them.

The last NLP presupposition which applies to addicted individuals is that:

In interactions among people, the person with the most flexibility and variation of behaviour can control the outcome of that interaction. In other words, doing more of the same behaviours will get you more of the same results. If what you are doing isn't working, do something else.

This crucial NLP presupposition if followed by addicted individuals could have assisted them in quitting their addiction. By realizing the intentions behind their behavior and learning a different desirable way to bring about positive personal change through dissociation, setting smart outcomes and creating a sense of future to experience their core value, addictions will disappear.

NOTE: The above (italicized statements) are the presuppositions upon which the NLP model is built. To test one or more presuppositions, act as if it or they were the case, and notice the results you get.

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Modified September 15, 2001 Ricardo B. Serrano, R.Ac.