NLP Neuro-linguistic Programming

NLP Neuro-linguistic programming

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States in the 1970s. Its creators claim a connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”) and behavioural patterns learned through experience (“programming”) and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life.

Neuro – All of our experience is gained from the neurological processes that govern our five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and sound.

Linguistic – We make sense of these experiences through a set of filters, including language. The language we use can also affect the way we experience things.

Programming – Programming is a way of controlling the outcome of something. Using NLP, one can predetermine excellence by adjusting the language we use.

Bandler and Grinder claim that NLP methodology can “model” the skills of exceptional people, then those skills can be acquired by anyone. Bandler and Grinder also claim that NLP can treat problems such as phobias, depression, habit disorder, psychosomatic illnesses, myopia, allergy, common cold, and learning disorders, often in a single session. NLP has been adopted by some hypnotherapists and in seminars marketed to business and to government.

Main components and core concepts

NLP can be understood in terms of three broad components and the central concepts pertaining to those:


NLP is an approach used by many coaches and hypnptherapist at ACCPHWe experience the world subjectively thus we create subjective representations of our experience. These subjective representation of experience are constituted in terms of five senses and language. That is to say our subjective conscious experience is in terms of the traditional senses of vision, audition, touch, olfaction and gustation such that when we—for example—rehearse an activity “in our heads”, recall an event or anticipate the future we will “see” images, “hear” sounds, “taste” flavours, “feel” tactile sensations, “smell” odours and think in some (natural) language. Furthermore it is claimed that these subjective representations of experience have a discernible structure, a pattern. It is in this sense that NLP is sometimes defined as the study of the structure of subjective experience.

Behaviour can be described and understood in terms of these sense-based subjective representations. Behaviour is broadly conceived to include verbal and non-verbal communication, incompetent, maladaptive or “pathological” behaviour as well as effective or skilful behaviour.

Behaviour (in self and others) can be modified by manipulating these sense-based subjective representations.


NLP is predicated on the notion that consciousness is bifurcated into a conscious component and a unconscious component. Those subjective representations that occur outside of an individual’s awareness comprise what is referred to as the “unconscious mind”.


NLP utilises an imitative method of learning—termed modelling—that is claimed to be able to codify and reproduce an exemplar’s expertise in any domain of activity. An important part of the codification process is a description of the sequence of the sensory/linguistic representations of the subjective experience of the exemplar during execution of the expertise.

Psychotherapeutic Applications

Early books about NLP had a psychotherapeutic focus given that the early models were psychotherapists. As an approach to psychotherapy, NLP shares similar core assumptions and foundations in common with some contemporary brief and systemic practices, such as solution focused brief therapy. NLP has also been acknowledged as having influenced these practices with its reframing techniques which seeks to achieve behaviour change by shifting its context or meaning, for example, by finding the positive connotation of a thought or behaviour.

How can NLP help me?

Because it is essentially a tool-kit for the mind, NLP can help all areas of life. It is particularly effective for improving the following situations:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Business
  • Arts and creativity
  • Fears and phobias
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Relationships
  • Sport

NLP Operational Principles

It is important to have specific outcomes are a requirement for any success to occur. To achieve any outcomes it is necessary to change – think, act and speak in more efficient ways. NLP provided a set of linguistic and behavioural patterns that have proved highly to be effective in creating such changes.

These variations in behaviour and speaking are not random, they involve the application of specific NLP patterns. A person then needs to take action – nothing ever happens until action is taken.

OP 1 Achieving Outcomes
Most people wander through life with no conscious outcomes in mind, but they often know what they don’t want. So for most of their life they are moving away from things. NLP requires movement towards those things are wanted.
Well-formed Outcomes. Sometimes called ‘well-formedness conditions’. There are 7 of these ‘well-formedness conditions’

  • the outcome needs to be stated in positive terms.
  • the outcome must be testable and demonstrable in sensory experience.
  • the desired state must be sensory specific.
  • the outcome or desired state must be initiated and maintained by the subject.
  • the outcome must be appropriately and explicitly contextualised.
  • the desired outcome must preserve any positive product of the present state.
  • the outcome or desired state must be ecologically sound.

OP 2 – sensory awareness
Once you know your outcome you must next have sufficient sensory acuity to know if you are moving towards it or not.

OP 3 – changing behaviour

Keep varying your thoughts, emotions, behaviours and language until you get the response you want.

OP 4 – time for action

Taking action now. ‘Don’t delay; act today.’

NLP presuppositions

There are certain presuppositions underlying NLP. These are things that are presupposed in effective communication.

  • The meaning of a communication is the response you get
  • The map is not the territory. We all live in the same world but have our unique map of how to navigate it
  • Language is a secondary representation of experience
  • Mind and body are parts of the same cybernetic system and affect each other
  • The law of requisite variety
  • Behaviour is geared towards adaptation
  • Present behaviour represents the very best choice available to a person
  • Behaviour is to be evaluated and appreciated or changed as appropriate in the context presented
  • People have all the resources they need to make the changes they want
  • If it is possible, I should be able to do it; it is only a matter of how
  • The highest quality information about other people is behavioural
  • It is useful to make a distinction between behaviour and self
  • There is no such thing as failure; there is only feedback

NLP Techniques and Definitions

NLP consists of a set of powerful techniques to effect change. Some of these techniques are outlined below:


These may be naturally occurring or can be created deliberately. They hold us to a fixed stimulus – a smell, taste, memory, movie, etc. They may elicit positive or negative internal states.

  • Anchoring – The process of associating an internal response with a trigger stimulus so that the response can be re-accessed by activating the trigger.
  • Stacking anchors – The process of associating a series of positive stimuli with one specific anchor. This will increase the intensity of the person’s response to the anchor.
  • Collapsing anchors – A process of eradicating negative states by triggering a more powerful positive one.
  • Chaining anchors – A process by which a series of anchors is created to lead from an undesired state through to a desired state.

Associated state

Paying total attention to a state so as to experience if fully with all the senses..

Dissociated state

Recreating a negative past experience from the perspective of an outside observer. The person does not have the original emotion but experiences as an observer.

Double kinesthetic dissociation

The process of a person watching a past experience as if it is a film or TV programme.


The process of a person monitoring their internal responses to a situation and matching them against specific criteria.

Changing personal history

A process that uses very powerful anchors to elicit positive states. With these in place the person can re-experience past negative situations and not feel the negative effects.


The process of establishing a very positive relationship with another person.


If a person has an experience they don’t like, what they actually don’t like is their response to it. That response is based on the meaning they give it. If they can change what an experience means to them, they can change their response to it.