Neuro Linguistic Programming

For those who specialise in this therapy look for the letter ‘J’ in the speciality column

Article 1 by Sarah BakerArticle 2 by Piers Thurston

NLP A Model of Human Excellence
The following information was kindly supplied by Sarah Baker

Neuro Linguistic Programming, NLP, is a powerful tool for fast and effective change. Just one or two sessions can eliminate unwanted habits and behaviour and help you adopt positive lifestyle changes. NLP is particularly useful in the treatment of any mind-related conditions such as phobias, addictions or self-esteem issues, and for managing stress.

However, NLP is not just a therapeutic tool – it is an attitude. The NLP attitude is characterised by a sense of curiosity and adventure, looking at life as a rare and unprecedented opportunity to learn. This attitude is perfect for achieving your goals which explains why NLP is widely used in professional training programmes in all types of businesses.

How it Works

NLP presupposes that all behaviour has a structure. Just as your computer functions according to its software, you have ‘mental software’ that runs your behavioural patterns. NLP techniques allow you to re-programme your brain for change.

For example, phobias are maintained by the mental programme, or strategy, for creating the specific fear in question. Three primary streams create the mental programme: physical feelings, self talk and the creation of pictures. Someone with a fear of flying may experience stomach churning and nausea, tell themselves “if anything happens I’m going to die” whilst conjuring up pictures of the plane crashing in a ball of fire.

The name Neuro Linguistic Programming represents these three streams:

  • Neuro – refers to the nervous system, the way we see, hear, feel, taste and smell
  • Linguistic – refers to how verbal and non-verbal communication, such as body language, is a representation of our internal worlds
  • Programming – refers to the habitual nature of our thoughts, feelings and actions and the fact that such habitual behaviour can be changed by upgrading our mental software

Your NLP practitioner will work with you using exercises to destroy self-limiting mental programmes such as phobias or unwanted habits, and then help you build new positive strategies supporting the way you’d like to live. In this way you can choose your mental, emotional, and physical states of wellbeing at any time.

The Development of NLP

In the 1970’s Richard Bandler and John Grinder asked themselves a simple yet intriguing question: “What differentiates someone who is merely competent at any given skill from someone who excels at the same skill?”

Bandler and Grinder decided to study the language and behaviour of three eminent psychotherapists of the period: Satir, Erickson, and Perls. They wanted to discover how these three were consistently achieving remarkable results in their treatments, results that were way above those of their peers. Bandler and Grinder wanted to find the secret of this success and NLP is a synthesis of what they learnt. It is a model of how to achieve human excellence.

Neuro Linguistic Programming – what’s behind that fancy name?
The following information was kindly supplied by Piers Thurston

NLP has grown in popularity and notoriety over the last ten years, and pops up in a diverse range of areas, from conflict resolution to flirting. But what is it? And how does it function in the area of personal therapy?

What is it?

NLP is a science and methodology for understanding and changing human behaviour. It is the study of someone’s subjective reality. NLP allows us to understand ‘how’ we do something, not ‘why’. It is based on the assumption that when we are born, we are a clean sheet with regards to fears and emotional baggage. Babies only have two inherent fears -loud noises and falling – everything else is programmed as we go through life, picking up responses and coping strategies from those around us. NLP identifies our pattern for how we do something and this awareness allows you to change it.

How did it all start:

Given the fact that we are more or less all born with the same resources, how come some people end up being hugely successful and happy, and others don’t? The founders of NLP, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, were interested in the answer to this question so they studied or ‘modelled’ the behaviour and thinking styles of highly effective and successful people in business, education, sales, therapy, sport, and personal development. From this model they discovered that we need to develop our own effective strategies for how to achieve something. NLP believes that we all have the resources we need to be happy and successful, we just haven’t worked to how to use them….yet!

And that name…..

NLP has succeeded despites its uninviting scientific name!
Neuro refers to the brain, and how the mind and body interact.
Linguistic refers to language and because we have to structure our reality around our language, insights into a person’s thinking can be obtained by careful attention to their use of language.
Programming refers to the fact that as our brains are designed to look for patterns our behaviour gets reinforced and forms a program. A bit like a computer and whenever we experience the stimulus we fire off the same response.

How does it work?

The ability to change the process by which we experience reality is often more valuable than changing the content of our experience of reality. What does that mean? Our brains can’t tell the difference between what is real and what we imagine! Which why we have fear – when we imagine what could happen we start to feel scared even though in reality nothing is actually happening to us.
All our experiences and distinctions concerning our environment and our behavior are represented through our sensory systems (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) – so our brain stores experiences represented by a series of pictures, sounds, and feelings. It is the characteristics of these pictures, sounds and feelings that determine how we feel about a certain experience.
As a therapist, once you understand how someone is making themselves feel a certain way, you can change it. For example someone who has a fear of public speaking will usually, at the mere mention of public speaking, begin to see pictures of themselves ‘failing’ at the event, have internal chatter giving themselves negative suggestions, and sensations of anxiety. These symptoms can happen when just thinking about the event because our brains can’t tell the different between what it imagines and reality. However you can use this to a client’s advantage, because in the same way that negative feelings can be manufactured, so can positive ones, i.e. if you vividly imagine yourself feeling super confident and relaxed you will become so.
Your brain doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what happens in your head
Your imagination is always more powerful than your will power

What can you use it for?

Simply to change the way you feel and therefore behave.
NLP provides us with choice; choice in what we feel, think, do, and therefore ultimately in what we achieve. It has transformed what is possible in the ways in which we can manage our states and reprogram out brains to think and behave differently.

NLP can help if you want to:

Feel more motivated, more positive, more focused.
Manage your emotions – so that you can be influential, more resourceful, proactive, and in control.
Increase self esteem, confidence and energy.
Do whatever you already do reasonably well, even better
Feel more positive and spend more of your life happy
NLP can cure phobias in as little as one hour – phobias that traditional psycho therapy would take weeks or months to solve.

In summary:

NLP is a methodology for understanding human behaviour and a variety of tools and techniques have been developed from it that can be beneficial in the area of personal change and therapy. Used in conjunction with coaching techniques or hypnosis (NLP has been described as eye open hypnosis) NLP can be extremely effective in facilitating change.