New Code NLP – The modern approach

By Michael Carroll,

The field of NLP is moving forward in an exciting new direction. A group of collaborators working under the mentorship of the John Grinder team are creating and developing new processes that fall into the genre of New Code NLP.  NLP was originally coded using the underlying principles of early computers, hence the name ‘programming’. Imagine if we all insisted on using computers developed in the 1970s. While that may sound crazy, many in NLP are following that logic in sticking with the NLP of the 1970s. Yes, the Classic Code of NLP is great; it paved the way for the new developments. If you want the latest and most powerful change processes, take a look at the New Code of NLP.

The background of New Code NLP

New Code NLP is set of NLP tools and techniques developed by John Grinder initially with Judith Delozier, and then Carmen Bostic St Clair. In recent years other collaborators have joined John and Carmen to form a development team. When creating the New Code, Grinder originally sought to correct what he perceived to be coding flaws in the classic code. Another outcome was to create fast and effective change processes for working with clients. John was also concerned at the lack of personal congruency in NLP Practitioners, that is people well trained in NLP were stunningly effective at helping their clients experience miraculous change yet their own lives were in a mess. Self-application of New Code patterns is an essential part of training for New Code NLP Practitioners.

New Code is continually developing

When I came across the New Code and professionally hooked up with John and Carmen in 2002, I was instantly impressed by how easy it was to deploy these highly effective New Code NLP patterns. In my usual style, I continually tested the patterns to find their limits. As yet, the limits are few. I started merging components of different techniques and adding bits to see what happened. Then I started to create my own New Code processes, some of which John and Carmen began integrating into their trainings. I worked at increasing the profile of New Code NLP and with John and Carmen taught New Code NLP Practitioner and Trainers courses. We began attracting a lot of bright minds to the courses, who in turn also developed new techniques which are shared between the New Code Trainers. Before I knew it a team of developers were emerging, and lots of new patterns were being created. So while the New Code began its life back in the 1980s when one NLP co-creator wanted to continue it’s development, it is constantly being updated with new developments to stay current. What’s more we really do want the new generation in NLP to be contributors to the field and work with us on creating new patterns

Personal congruency

Earlier in this article I mentioned personal congruency. In NLP we say congruency is when the conscious and unconscious minds are in alignment. One part of developing personal congruency is establishing a clear signal between the conscious and unconscious mind. The first place a signal system appeared in NLP was in the old version of the six-step reframe. The utilisation of an involuntary signal in the six-step reframe was a breakthrough in NLP. An internal signal that a client has no conscious control over is elicited and tested as part of the intervention. The unconscious finds new choices that match the intention of the original behaviour (but creates more choice) without the conscious being aware of what had been selected. The unconscious communicates through the signals when it has found the new choices and the client is only aware of the change when next in the context of the issue. The ecology and thus congruency is at the unconscious level. Without the congruency of a clear signal system the pattern is ineffective.  The notion of unconscious selection of resources flows through the New Code.

High Performance states

In the New Code of NLP we usually work at the level of state to create new choices for clients (In the classic code, practitioners work at the level of behaviour). This is because state includes multiples of behaviours, some of which the client does not even have access to when consciously thinking about the new choices he wants in areas of his life. A highly effective way of accessing a high performance state is through a ‘New Code Game’. A New Code game includes the variables of utilising all three major representational systems, cross-lateralised movements to fully engage both hemispheres of the brain and scalability making the tasks more complex. The interaction of these variables produce a ‘high performance state’ and the highest level which is a ‘know nothing state’.  These states are then transferred to the context where the client wants more choice.

A high performance state is when the client is performing without thinking. A ‘know nothing state’ is when a client is performing at very high level without any conscious awareness. In life threatening situations the unconscious gives us access to these states where amazing feats of human behaviour can occur to save ones life. The good news is you don’t have to have a life-threatening situation to perform at such a high level, you can do so learning the New Code. Below are the steps for a New Code change format. Some of the well-known games are the Alphabet game, NASA game, various ball games and trampoline formats. For a copy of the Alphabet game and instructions you can email

The New Code Change Format

1. Identify the context where the client wants a difference in experience from 3rd position

2. Associate to context of where the change/state is desired.  (1st position), Fully access circuitry associated with the issue.

3. Separator state

4. Enter know nothing state, or high performance state via game or some other means

5. Coach manoeuvres client to the context with neural pathways fully activated from high performance state,


State as a digital and analogue concept

In the change New Code change format above there are two strong states.There is a ‘high performance state’ and a ‘context state’. There is also a separator state and the state in observer position. These states are marked out and utilised as digital entities by the coach. The intention is to push the high performance to the context of where the present state was located. The client will have access to the multiple choices inherent in the high performance state when he/she enters the real world context of the present state. There are several New Code processes where the coach will utilise state as an ‘analogue’ concept and work with the overlap of two states. This is particularly useful where clients’ experience situations where an unresourceful state absorbs them so quickly that they lose control as the state takes over their system. At the other end of the spectrum a state can also sneak up on someone so slowly that they are not aware what is happening until the state has engulfed them. The client didn’t realise the state was slowly building until it’s too late. In both of these cases you can work with the kinaesthetic ‘trigger point’ which happens way before that unresourceful state takes over.


In the above diagram you can see the early part of where the unwanted state occurs below conscious threshold and there is a period when both states overlap. The coach sets up a situation where through being sensitive to the trigger point of the unwanted state new choices can be created before the state takes over. I have found working at trigger point is particularly useful in working with addictions and allergies. My colleague Carmen Bostic St Clair has developed and is developing formats in this area of NLP.

About The Author

Michael Carroll

Michael CarrollMichael Carroll is the founder and course director of the NLP Academy and co-founder with John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair of the International Trainers Academy of NLP. He is the only NLP Master Trainer in the world certified by John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair and he works closely with them in developing and delivering high quality NLP training.


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