Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behaviour and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them” and “a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour”. The co-founders, Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder claimed it would be instrumental in “finding ways to help people have better, fuller and richer lives”.They coined the title to denote a supposed theoretical connection between neurological processes (‘neuro’), language (‘linguistic’) and behavioral patterns that have been learned through experience (‘programming’) and that can be organised to achieve specific goals in life.

NLP was originally promoted by founders Bandler and Grinder in the 1970s as an effective and rapid form of psychological therapy, capable of addressing the full range of problems which psychologists are likely to encounter, such as phobias, depression, habit disorder, psychosomatic illnesses, learning disorders.  It also espoused the potential for self-determination through overcoming learned limitations and emphasized well-being and healthy functioning. Later, it was promoted as a ‘science of excellence’, derived from the study or ‘modeling’ of how successful or outstanding people in different fields obtain their results. It was claimed that these skills can be learned by anyone to improve their effectiveness both personally and professionally.

Despite its popularity, NLP has been largely ignored by conventional social science because of issues of professional credibility and insufficient empirical evidence to substantiate its models and claimed efficacy. It appears to have little impact on academic psychology, and limited impact on mainstream psychotherapy and counselling. However, it had some influence among private psychotherapists, including hypnotherapists, to the extent that some claim to be trained in NLP and apply it to their practice. NLP had greater influence in management training, Life coaching, and the self-help industry.

Definition of NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming

Neuro: The nervous system (the mind), through which our experience is processed via five senses:

  1. Visual
  2. Auditory
  3. Kinesthetic
  4. Olfactory
  5. Gustatory

Linguistic: Language and other nonverbal communication systems through which our neural representations are coded, ordered and given meaning.

Includes:

  • Pictures
  • Sounds
  • Feelings
  • Tastes
  • Smells
  • Words (Self Talk)

Programming: The ability to discover and utilize the programmes that we run (our communication to ourselves and others) in our neurological systems to achieve our specific and desired outcomes.

In other words, NLP is how to use the language of the mind to consistently achieve our specific and desired outcomes.

Tad James