Reverse Meta Model: Nominalizations


Reverse Meta Model: Nominalizations


The Meta Model teaches us that nominalizations are verbs that have been changed into nouns. In other words, they are a process that has been changed linguistically into a thing. As an example, we hear people speak about their “relationship,” instead of “how they are relating to their partner.”

It’s really good to recognize them because clients use them all the time. A person seeking therapy may complain of “their depression.” They are speaking as if depression was a thing rather than the act of acting depressed. Dave Dobson taught that a useful response to them would be, “what are you acting depressed about?” This way of responding effectively turns their nominalization back into a verb. 

You’ll notice that the ending “ion” is common for nominalizations. 

discussion, completion, objection, consideration, decision, evolution

But there are many of them that do not have that ending.

discovery, movement, resistance, reaction, hope

(If you’re not sure about a particular word, use the wheelbarrow test: Can you put it into a wheelbarrow? As an example – a relationship may seem like a thing, but can you put it into a wheelbarrow?)

So then, how can we reverse the meta model and use nominalizations artfully and purposefully? Notice all the ones in the following example:

and you can feel that feeling

of trance deepen as you 

drift down and allow 

your unconscious

to find exactly the right resources 

to create the perfect solution

and let that understanding

permeate your spirit


or in sales:

The experience of this car’s responsiveness will cause you to feel a surge of elation that starts … right … there … and then spreads out and fills you with that intoxication of adventure that means you must possess it now.

Remember the rule, “The client must never be vague, the hypnotist — always.”

About Doug O'Brien

Doug O’Brien is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, and a Certified Hypnotherapist. In 1988, while assisting at NLP and NAC training seminars with Anthony Robbins, Doug achieved the designation of Master Trainer. He now conducts numerous seminars of his own around the globe (specializing in the “Sleight of Mouth” patterns of Robert Dilts, NLP Certification Courses, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy) and helped found Columbia-Presbyterian’s Department of Complementary Medicine with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

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