What is NLP?
NLP relies on language processing but should not be confused with natural language processing, which shares the same abbreviation.
NLP uses perceptual, behavioral and communication techniques to make it easier for people to change their thoughts and actions.
NLP can be used for personal development, phobias and anxiety.
Who developed NLP?
NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who believed that it was possible to identify patterns of thoughts and behaviors in successful individuals and to teach them to others.
Despite the lack of empirical evidence to support it, Bandler and Grinder published two books, The Structure of Magic I and II, and NLP gained momentum. Its popularity was due in part to its versatility in dealing with the many different issues that people face.
How does NLP work?
The different interpretations of NLP make it difficult to define. It is based on the idea that people work through internal "maps" of the world that they learn through sensory experiences.
NLP seeks to detect and change subconscious prejudices or limitations of an individual's map of the world.
NLP is not hypnotherapy. Instead, it works through the conscious use of language to bring about changes in someone's thoughts and behavior.
For example, a central feature of NLP is the idea that a person is biased against a sensory system, known as the preferred representation system or PRS.
Therapists can discover this preference through language. Phrases like "I see your point" can signal a visual PRS. Or "I hear your score" can signal a hearing PRS.
An NLP practitioner will identify a person's PRS and base their therapeutic framework around it. The framework can include report building, information gathering and objectives with them.
NLP is a broad field and NLP-Trainers use many different techniques which include the following:
One of NLP's techniques is to try to remove negative thoughts and feelings associated with a previous event.
Anchoring: Transforming sensory experiences into triggers for certain emotional states.
Report: The practitioner adapts to the person by matching their physical behavior to improve communication and response through empathy.
Swish pattern: Change behavioral pattern or thought to get to the desired instead of an unwanted result.
Visual / Kinesthetic Dissociation (VKD): Attempts to remove negative thoughts and feelings associated with a previous event.
NLP is used as a method of personal development by promoting skills such as self-reflection, self-confidence and communication.
Practitioners have applied NLP commercially to achieve work-oriented goals, such as improved productivity or job development.
More commonly, it has been used as a therapy for psychological disorders, including phobias, depression, generalized anxiety disorder or GAD, and post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
Does NLP work?
To date, no thorough research has been done to prove the effectiveness of NLP.
Determining the effectiveness of NLP is challenging for several reasons.
NLP has not been subject to the same standard of scientific as more established therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT.
The lack of formal regulation and the commercial value of NLP means that claims about its effectiveness can be anecdotal or delivered by an NLP company. NLP companies will have a financial interest in the success of NLP, so their evidence is difficult to use.
Furthermore, scientific research on NLP has yielded mixed results.
Some studies have found benefits associated with NLP. For example, a study published in the journal Counseling and Psychotherapy Research found that psychotherapy patients had improved psychological symptoms and quality of life after having NLP compared to a control group.
However, a review published in the British Journal of General Practice of 10 available studies on NLP was less favorable.
It concluded that there was little evidence for the efficacy of NLP in the treatment of health-related conditions, including anxiety disorders, weight management and substance abuse. This was due to the limited quantity and quality of the research studies available rather than evidence showing that NLP did not work.
In 2014, a report from the Canadian Agency for Medicines and Technology in Health found no clinical evidence for the efficacy of NLP in the treatment of PTSD, GAD or depression.
However, a further research review published in 2015 found that NLP therapy had a positive impact on individuals with social or psychological problems, although the authors said that more investigation was needed.
The theoretical basis for NLP has also aroused criticism due to the lack of evidence-based support.
An article published in 2009 concluded that the theories behind NLP after three decades were still not credible and clear