Neuro-Linguistic Programming

What is NLP?

What can it do from a therapeutic point of view?

NLP is a science and methodology for understanding and changing human behaviour. It is the study of someone’s subjective, perceived, 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. We are like shiny diamonds at our birth, until the mud of life is thrown on us, and we can forget that we are diamonds and think we are muddy stones! 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 us 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 despite 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 as we have before.

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 is 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.

Once the therapist understands how someone is making themselves feel a certain way, she can help them to 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 difference between what it imagines and reality. However this can be used 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.
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 our 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.
Whatever you already do reasonably well, do it even better.
Feel more positive and spend more of your life happy.
NLP facilitates change in your perception of fear in one session – fears 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.
(Adapted from N.R.A.H. website, with thanks)
Georgina uses NLP as a basis for her Liberation! Technique