Mcc670 – Metamodal Questions

Based on NLP which says that people create faulty mental maps of reality and fail to test these cognitive/linguistic maps against experiences from senses.  According to founders of Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) individuals frequently have faulty conceptualizations of reality . In order to address this issue, metamodal questions are used in therapy to understand how a client constructs their personal representation of reality. Through the utilization of metamodal questions cognitive errors such as overgeneralization, or all-or-nothing thinking can be uncovered (Ingram, 2012). The goal of these questions is to understand how the client processes information and develop clear idea of what is going on (Ingram, 2012).

Understanding the problem according to NLP

metaperspective defined

This concept is defined as the act of understanding our representation of reality is not the same as the true nature of things.  I discussed this concept briefly in another post after a conversation with my sister.  When we fail to acknowledge that our meta perspective doesn’t always adequately reflect the true nature of things we run into a proble.

The Gap Problem…

NLP defines this issue as a “gap problem”.  The inevitable gap between our cognitive map of things and real world experience, the bigger a problem is.   So in light of this we must begin asking ourselves what information we’re deleting and what we’ve distorted.

Understanding the NLP Solution via metamodal questioning…

The Goal…

The goal of NLP is to gather information that can help us determine where our informational gaps lie and if metamodal violations exist that can cause insufficient cognitive maps of reality exist.  As therapists our primary goal consists of helping the client develop a clearer understanding of what is happening and develop better informational processing skills.

The Metamodal Questioning Process.


Begin by ask for real data of experience to be fully described.  In the context of an intake interview you might begin by simply giving the client some time to tell the story of what lead them to seek counseling.


Next you might ask questions that can help clarify the information upon which the client is basing his view of reality on. For example, if the client states “everyone hates me” you might respond by asking for specific sensory data, interactions and/of events that lead you to this conclusion.


Finally, take time to explore further, any  information that may or may not support and not supporting the client’s perspective.  Here are a few Practicing Metamodal Questions (Examples) from Ingram (2012).

  1. Is the client missing some important details? (where, when, what, whom)
  2. Does the client use ague pronouns leading to generalizations (i.e. Everyone)? Ask for clarification and specifics
  3. Does the client tell his/her story with vaguely with few observable actions & behaviors ?  Again ask for them to clarify.
  4. All-Or-Nothing Thinking.  Is the client jumping to conclusions?
  5. Is the client making assumptions about others’ feelings?
  6. Cause/Effect Error.  Is the client assuming that “a” caused “b”? Attempt to and disconfirm the link between a & b.
  7. Is the client imposing values upon others? inquire on source of belief…

What follows are three examples of metamodal questions that could be utilized in the Case study of Clara assigned in my MCC 670 course.

Example One

In the Clara’s case study, she is said to making the following statement: “But my brother is an idiot and he’s just sticking around to get what money my father has left – I’m not going to let him win this one” (Author, 2015). Ingram, (2012) suggests a statement like this can reflect a cognitive error best described as “mind reading” (p34). A great multimodal response to this comment might be: “What is it specifically about your brother’s actions that has lead you to this conclusion?” When worded in this way, this asks the Clara to provide detail to support this assessment, while not making her feel you’re either negating or challenging this assertion.

Example Two

Clara also makes the following statement in an intake interview with the therapist: “Everybody has always shoved me around, telling me what to do. I’ve got a brain.” Our Ingram (2012) textbook would classify this statement as a potential overgeneralization (p33). A useful multimodal response, would require her to provide more detail in support of this generalized assumption (Ingram, 2012). For example, the therapist might state: “What is it that people do to make you feel this way? Can you provide examples?”

Example Three

Clara makes the following brief statement about her mother: “Mother believed in using the switch if everything wasn’t done just the way she wanted it.” This statement provides an opportunity to gather more information about a possible abuse history. In this example, my response would focus on gathering the missing details so I could develop a clearer idea of the specific incidents related to this comment. In this instance, I might say: “How does your mother like things done? Is it difficult to maintain your mother’s standards as her primary caretaker?


Author, (2015) Case Study – Clara.  Retrieved from:​10879816_2/courses/MCC670-T301_2163_1/Case%20Study%20_Clara.pdf
Ingram, B.L. (2012). Clinical Case Formulations: Matching the Integrative Treatment
​Plan to the Client. (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Share This: