CBT – Six logical levels of change


Environment is about the external conditions in which behaviour takes place and in which we operate. The level of the environment contains all external conditions that affect a person. They can be experienced externally with the senses and can be answered with the questions “Where?”, “When?”, “Who?”, “With whom?”, “Who else?”.


Behaviour is actions and reactions by an individual within the environment. Behaviour can be described with sense-specific terms. This is about the “What?”


Capability might be considered the ‘how’ level. Activities are cognitive and emotional processes that a person goes through to make a certain behaviour possible. They are not perceptible from the outside. It is about knowing, thinking and feeling, including awareness of these abilities. The question is “How?”.


Belief might be thought of as the level of ‘why’ and is sometimes also described as ‘values’. Core beliefs are deeply held beliefs about ourselves, others and the world. Core beliefs are learned early in life. They are influenced by childhood experiences and seen as absolute


Identity is about ‘who’ you are and could also be considered as the sense of self. The self-image, the ideas a person constructs about themselves and their behaviour, abilities and beliefs, mostly unconsciously. Identity, with the poles of personal and social identity, can also be conceived as a special religious belief. It is the central model about the overall personality.


This spiritual level guides and shapes our life and gives our existence a foundation. It is about the “big questions” in life: “Why do we live?”, “Why are we here?”, “What is the meaning of life?”

Levels of change in NLP: Beck, A. T. (1976) Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders, New York: Penguin.CBT