What is NLP?

healing health mental health mindset nlp therapy Nov 21, 2021

NLP stands for Neuro-linguistic Programming and was first created in the 1970's by Richard Bandler and John Grinder (a mathematician and information scientist) in the United States. It's based on the premise that there's a connection between neurological processes (neuro), language (linguistic) and behavioural patterns learned through experience (programming), and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life. Different to Hypnotherapy, which requires getting the client to enter a hypnotic state, thereby allowing the therapist to access their unconscious mind, NLP works at the conscious, as well as unconscious levels of an individual, using language to bring about positive changes to one's thoughts and behaviours. It was also popularised as a method of controlling the mind and influencing people by mimicking the communication and thought patterns of successful people.

How does it work?

Everyone perceives the world differently - we use our five senses to experience things subjectively, which then forms a structure or a pattern to our thinking. Although NLP does not require direct access into the unconscious mind, there are subjective representations people perceive that are on the conscious level, as well as those on the unconscious level, or outside of an individual's awareness. 

The 'power of positive thinking' is found in many tools and various therapy methods, all of which help people to break away from the negative thought patterns that prevent them from living life to the fullest. But it's NLP's forward-thinking perspective that really helps people to gain control of their thoughts and ultimately enable them to maintain this new outlook with reframed positive thinking patterns - something that's critical for long-term and sustained positive change.

There are various techniques within NLP that enable the restructuring of thinking patterns:

ANCHORING: Trying to remove negative thoughts and feelings associated with a past event.

RAPPORT: Turning sensory experiences into triggers for certain emotional states.

SWISH PATTERN: The practitioner tunes into the person by matching their physical behaviours to improve communication and response through empathy.

VISUAL/KINESTHETIC DISSOCIATION (VKD): Changing patterns of behaviour or thought to come to a desired instead of an undesired outcome.

What are the uses and benefits of NLP?

Neuro-linguistic Programming can be used as a complementary therapy for physical, emotional and mental health. It can be used to help calm emotions, lower anxiety levels, and has even been used to treat physical pain, depression, phobias, PTSD and many other serious and chronic conditions of the body and mind. But similar to any complementary health modality, there is limited scientific research and insufficient evidence to make medical claims for the health benefits.

The therapeutic uses of NLP help individuals to change their perceptions, behaviour and communication to give them a more positive mindset, thus helping them to attain their goals. These can be used as self-development tools and include:

  • gaining self-confidence
  • overcoming limiting beliefs
  • strengthening leadership qualities
  • managing difficult people or relationships
  • improving public speaking skills
  • becoming a better negotiator
  • helping in understanding others better
  • becoming more resilient to change obstacles
  • developing new strategies for problem-solving
  • creating a calmer and happier life  

When a person has more control over their thoughts, then this consequently gives them control over their actions leading to more empowerment for that individual. And by expanding one's outlook and equipping them with the tools that once resided outside of their own subjective thoughts and belief patterns, they can use these to gain a more positive mindset and possess the methods to reach the goals and objectives they have in their lives.

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