Neuro Linguistic Programming

Although I was trained to the level of Master Practitioner of NLP, I currently do not use this modality solely, but as an important supporting tool in the energy work that I do. If you are interested in finding a practitioner whose main focus is NLP, I would suggest visiting this website for more information.

What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a term that designates a group of techniques, practices and exercises developed in the latter part of the 20th century that has now become, among other things, a comprehensive therapeutic practice for change and personal development. As you can deduce from the name, it involves three major components of the human experience: neurology, language and programming.

The neurological system regulates how our bodies function, language determines how we interface and communicate with other people and our programming determines the kinds of models of the world we create. Neuro-Linguistic Programming describes the fundamental dynamics between mind (neuro) and language (linguistic) and how their interplay effects our body and behavior (programming).*

Developed by Richard Bandler (a mathematician trained in Gestalt therapy) and John Grinder (a linguist) in the 1970’s, NLP is the brainchild of these two men who were looking to create specific models for human excellence. They worked with Fritz Perls (the creator of gestalt therapy), Virginia Satir (a renowned family therapist) and Milton Erikson (founder of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, and one of the most clinically successful psychiatrists of our time). The technique that emerged from their work was called modeling excellence. NLP has since developed some very powerful tools for communication and change and is used in a wide range of professional settings, including psychotherapy and counseling, health, education, business, management, law, etc. It is also very effective in a more personal setting of creating and maintaining the right communication for successful parenting and relationships.


What can NLP do for me?

Becoming involved with the NLP process enables one to engage with self and with others from a totally different viewpoint than what we learned as children growing up in western society. Basically, it allows us to become aware of the different ways in which we have been limiting our experience, and thus narrowing our set of choices in dealing with the world. NLP teaches us how to understand and transcend those limitations, and thus enlarge our life map to include new territories to explore. More territory allows more movement, which gives greater choices.

When we go through certain life situations, some of which can be very painful (separation, divorce, loss of a job, sickness or death of a loved one), the defense mechanisms we learned as young children in our attempts at apprehending the world come back full force, and we sometimes find ourselves thinking, “I thought I had already dealt with that problem.” Quite often these problems are not new – they are just a different version of an old theme. What NLP does is to generate new and different types of behavior to deal with these problems, and provide us with a new approach and new solutions to these repetitive situations, so that we can, once and for all, resolve the issue, move past it and get on with our lives.

There are a number of techniques and exercises within the framework of NLP, and many of these help us deal with trauma, misunderstandings or simply gaps in our comprehension of the world, while others are aimed at helping us explore our identity and our mission in life. NLP informs us about the process of change, establishes a system of empowering beliefs and presuppositions about what being human actually means, and provides a framework for understanding the spiritual side of the human experience, going beyond the individual to the family, community and global systems.

NLP is not only about competence and excellence, it is also about vision and wisdom.*

How does NLP work?

We perceive the world using our five senses, but no one has the exact same experience as anyone else. There seems to be another set of parameters that determine how we perceive reality. One could call these parameters “filters” through which the information coming from our sensory organs is sent. These filters can be neurological (having to do with the differences in our individual sensory organs), socio-cultural, or individual. The information coming through to our awareness is also selected, distorted and/or generalized, according to our individual psychological makeup. Add to that our belief systems, and we have our subjective experience of reality. Our behavior and actions are conditioned less by the “real world” than by the inner representation that we have of it.

Our experience of reality is not only subjective, but it is created by language. Cognitive function translates what we perceive through our senses into words and phrases, which then become a constant presence in our experience. Language gives meaning to that experience, and allows us to engage in communication with ourselves and with others, at least those who speak our language. Non-verbal communication is of course a huge part of the communicative process, and as we all know, allows us to communicate in spite of language barriers. However, having access to language makes things a lot easier. Language is a tool that enables us to communicate at all levels, from taking care of basic survival to engaging in complex thought patterns and concepts necessary to our intellectual and spiritual development. Language as a tool is a major actor in the NLP process.

This brings us to Programming, the key to change. Using language to access the subjective reality of a client, the NLP practitioner will then offer him the possibility of changing his behavior by modifying certain aspects of his inner experience. Sometimes a simple suggestion of bringing more light or color, or sound into the experience will change it enough to make it tolerable, acceptable or even agreeable to the client. Other times, it will take an entire progression from the moment the practitioner has accessed the client’s reality to the time he gains understanding and creates more choice in his actions. Whatever path is taken, the client’s integrity and pace will always be respected. The practitioner serves as a guide in the process of self-discovery, assisting the client to gain knowledge and understanding about his own inner workings and enabling him to undo certain patterns and replace them by new, more ecological ones.


In conclusion

NLP is based on two basic principles: 1) The map is not the territory – as humans, we will never know objective reality, only the inner, subjective reality that we have created from our senses and filters and beliefs. We have access to our own personal map, but the territory (objective reality) remains out of reach. 2) Life and Mind are systemic processes – we do not exist as lone individuals, we are part of a system, which is part of a greater system, which is part of an even greater system. Within us are also systems, and all of these systems, from the greatest to the smallest, are interconnected and intertwined into a complex network. As the English poet John Keats once said, “To pick a flower is to disturb a star.” These two principles are found in every technique or model that NLP offers in order to fulfill its purpose: “to create the richest map possible that respects the systemic nature and ecology of ourselves and the world we live in.” By engaging in the NLP process, you are giving yourself a great opportunity to enlarge and enrich your map of the world, thereby increasing your chances of living a more effective and happy life. “Excellence comes from having many choices. Wisdom comes from having multiple perspectives.” NLP can help you to generate more choices and have more perspectives in your life. It’s worth thinking about, right?

* From Robert Dilts’ article, “What is NLP?” © 1999, San Diego, CA