In NLP the Meta-model is a set of specifying questions or language patterns designed to challenge and expand the limits to a person’s model or ‘map’ of the world. When a person speaks about a problem or situation, their choice of words, (or ‘indicators’), will distort, generalize, and delete portions of their experience. By listening to and responding to these language patterns the practitioner seeks to help the client to recover the information that is under the surface of the words. A therapist who ’listens’ on the basis of their existing belief systems may miss important aspects.

The NLP meta-model, being based on the verbal patterning of Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir, is intended to facilitate detecting the indicators of limiting beliefs and restrictive thinking. The questions in the meta-model are designed to bring clarity to the clients language and so to their underlying restrictive thinking and beliefs.

In business or therapy, the meta-model might be used to help a client elaborate the details of problems, proposals and objectives by asking about the important information that has been left out. For example, a person states that “we need to make a decision”, a response could be to ask who will actually be doing the deciding and how exactly the process of deciding (from decision) would take place. The word ‘we’ does not specify who is doing the action. Also, the word ‘decision’ is a process which had been turned into an abstract noun. In that statement there was also an implied necessity (from need) which could also be challenged to find out if it really is a necessity.