What is NLP?

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What is Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)?

NLP explores the relationships between the way we think (Neuro), the way we communicate whether verbally or non-verbally (Linguistic) and our patterns of behaviour (Programming).


The field of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) was born out of work conducted by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s. The goal of their research was to understand why certain people achieved great results and then to create models to install this excellence in others. Bandler and Grinder's studies initially focused on renowned therapists of the time; people like Milton Eriksson, Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir. Over the last three decades, countless others have contributed to the further development of NLP.

It is important to understand that NLP is NOT a magic formula; it is framework of techniques that are underpinned by a series of guiding principles and attitudes.
Once we understand what affects our current behaviours, we are able to understand what we need to change to modify these behaviours into ones that serve us and our future plans more positively.

What does that mean?

Here's a question for you… Do you remember learning to drive? Sitting in the driver's seat for the first time, wondering how you were going to cope with coordinating clutch, accelerator, brake and gear stick while steering the car and watching where you were going?

Now, here's another question for you…how would you have felt if you had been sitting there on your own with no instructions? Would you have been happy to muddle along, making it up as you went along? Would you have got very far?

Or another example, perhaps you have a new mobile phone. Without the manual you may work out how to make a phone call but what about all the other stuff the phone can do?

How is this relevant to NLP? Well, what Bandler and Grinder studied was the structure of HOW people think and experience the world, and this lead to techniques for rapidly and easily changing thoughts, beliefs and behaviours. It gave people choice; a choice to choose their behaviours, and emotional states and to remove self-imposed limits.
Note, NLP focuses on the structure of HOW people think, not necessarily WHAT they think, and this explains why much of NLP in therapy is content-free. This means you don't necessarily need to share private information while looking for solutions.

You will sometimes hear NLP referred to as an Instruction Manual for the Mind. We're not given one at birth so we muddle along making it up as we go along. That's a bit like working out how to use a mobile phone without an instruction manual; you may eventually work out how to make a phone call, but there are so many other functions that could be useful to you, if only you knew how to get to them.

NLP allows us to use the language of the mind to consistently achieve specific and desired outcomes.