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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.

History and founding

1970s

The first popular book on NLP, Frogs into Princes, first published in 1979, was based on transcripts of its co-founders, Bandler and Grinder, presenting at seminars.


NLP originated when Richard Bandler, a student at University of California, Santa Cruzmarker, was transcribing taped therapy sessions of the Gestalt therapist Fritz Perls as a project for the psychiatrist Robert Spitzer. Bandler believed he recognized particular word and sentence structures which facilitated the acceptance of Perls’ positive suggestions. Bandler took this idea to one of his university lecturers, John Grinder, a linguist, and together they produced what they termed the Meta Model, a model of what they believed to be influential word structures and how they work. They also 'modeled' the therapeutic sessions of the family therapist Virginia Satir.

They published an account of their work in The Structure of Magic I: A Book About Language and Therapy in 1975. The main theme of the book was that it was possible to analyse and codify the therapeutic methods of Satir and Perls. Exceptional therapy, even when it appears 'magical', has a discernible structure which anyone could learn. Some of the book was based on previous work by Grinder on transformational grammar, the Chomskyan generative syntax that was current at the time. Some considered the importation of transformational grammar to psychotherapy to be Bandler and Grinder's main contribution to the field of psychotherapy. Bandler and Grinder also made use of ideas of Gregory Bateson, who was influenced by Alfred Korzybski, particularly his ideas about human modeling and encapsulated in his oft-quoted expression 'the map is not the territory'.

Impressed by Bandler and Grinder's work with Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir, the British anthropologist Gregory Bateson agreed to write the preface to Bandler and Grinder's Structure of Magic series. Bateson also introduced them to Milton Erickson who was selected as the third model for NLP. Erickson, an American psychiatrist and founding member of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis, was well known for his unconventional approach to therapy; for his ability to "utilize" anything about a patient to help him or her change, including his or her beliefs, favorite words, cultural background, personal history, or even neurotic habits, and for treating the unconscious mind as creative, solution-generating, and often positive.

At that time, the Californian human potential movement was developing into an industry. Its founders claimed that in addition to being a therapeutic method, it was also a study of communication, and by the 1970s Grinder and Bandler were marketing it as a business tool, claiming that 'if any human being can do anything, so can you'. After 150 students paid $1,000 each for a ten-day workshop in Santa Cruz, Bandler and Grindler gave up academic writing to produce popular books from seminar transcripts, such as Frogs into Princes, which sold more than 270,000 copies. According to court documents, Bandler's NLP business made more than $800,000 in 1980.

1980s

In the early 1980s, NLP was hailed as an important advance in psychotherapy and counseling, and attracted some interest in counseling research and clinical psychology. In the mid 1980s, reviews in The Journal of Counseling Psychology and by the National Research Council (1988; NRC) committee found little or no empirical basis for the claims about preferred representational systems (PRS) or assumptions of NLP. Since then, NLP has been regarded with suspicion or outright hostility by the academic, psychiatric and medical professions.

In the 1980s, shortly after publishing Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Volume I with Robert Dilts and Judith Delozier, Grinder and Bandler fell out. Amidst acrimony and intellectual property lawsuits, the NLP brand was adopted by other training organisations. Some time afterwards, John Grinder collaborated with various people to develop a form of NLP called the New Code of NLP which claimed to restore a whole mind-body systemic approach to NLP Richard Bandler also published new processes based on submodalities and Ericksonian hypnosis.

1990s

In July 1996 after many years of legal controversy, Bandler filed a lawsuit against John Grinder and others, claiming retrospective sole ownership of NLP, and also the sole right to use the term under trademark. At the same time, Tony Clarkson (a UK practitioner) successfully asked the UK High Court to revoke Bandler's UK registered trademark of "NLP", in order to clarify legally that 'NLP' was a generic term rather than intellectual property.

Despite the NLP community's being splintered, most NLP material acknowledges the early work of co-founders Bandler and Grinder, and also the development group that surrounded them in the 1970s.

2000s

In 2001, the lawsuits were settled with Bandler and Grinder agreeing to be known as co-founders of NLP. Since 1978, a 20-day NLP practitioner certification program had been in existence for training therapists to apply NLP as an adjunct to their professional qualifications. As NLP evolved, and the applications began to be extended beyond therapy, new ways of training were developed and the course structures and design changed. Course lengths and style vary from institute to institute. In the 1990s, following attempts to put NLP on a regulated footing in the UK, other governments began certifying NLP courses and providers, such as in Australia for example, where Neuro-linguistic programming is accredited under the Australian Qualifications Framework. However, NLP continues to be an open field of training with no 'official' best practice. With different authors, individual trainers and practitioners having developed their own methods, concepts and labels, often branding them as "NLP", the training standards and quality differ greatly. The multiplicity and general lack of controls has led to difficulty discerning the comparative level of competence, skill and attitude in different NLP trainings. According to Peter Schütz, the length of training in Europe varies from 2–3 days for the hobbyist to 35–40 days over at least nine months to achieve a professional level of competence.

In Europe, the European NLP therapy association has been promoting its training in line with European therapy standards.

In 2001, an off-shoot application of NLP, neuro-linguistic psychotherapy, was recognized by United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy as an experimental constructivist form of psychotherapy.

Today

Today, NLP is a lucrative industry, and many variants of the practice are found in seminars, workshops, books and audio programs in the form of exercises and principles intended to influence behavioral and emotional change in self and others. There is great variation in the depth and breadth of training and standards of practitioners, and some disagreement between those in the field about which patterns are, or are not, "NLP".

NLP and science

There are three main scientific criticisms of NLP. First, critics argue that NLP's claims for scientific respectability are not based on the scientific method. In response advocates of NLP argue that NLP is a pragmatic discipline, largely interested in what "works" rather than existing theory. Second, there is a lack of empirical research or evidence to support the core aspects of NLP or the claim that NLP is an effective and rapid set of techniques for enhancing psycho-therapeutic practice, interpersonal communication and social influence. One of the originators of NLP, John Grinder, retorts that the meta model, was based on his expertise in linguistics and empirical work in collaboration with Richard Bandler in the early 1970s. However, critics maintain that the experimental research that does exist has been overall unsupportive of the central assumptions and core models of NLP and it is therefore up to the proponents to back up their models and claims of effectiveness with evidence.

In a recent article, professional psychologist Grant Devilly (2005) stated that at the time it was introduced, NLP was heralded as a breakthrough in therapy, and advertisements for training workshops, videos and books began to appear in trade magazines. The workshops provided certification. However, controlled studies shed such a poor light on the practice, and those promoting the intervention made such extreme and changeable claims that researchers began to question the wisdom of researching the area further.

Critics argue that NLP's claims for scientific respectability are not based on the scientific method. They believe the title of "neuro-linguistic programming" is simply a pretense to a legitimate discipline like neuroscience, neurolinguistics, and psychology. Michael Corballis (1999) stated that "NLP is a thoroughly fake title, designed to give the impression of scientific respectability". Furthermore, NLP adapted many scientific sounding terms, such as eye accessing cues, metamodeling, micromodeling, metaprogramming, neurological levels, presuppositions, representational systems, and submodalities, intended to obfuscate and to give the impression of a scientific discipline. According to Canadian skeptic Beyerstein (1995) "though it claims neuroscience in its pedigree, NLP's outmoded view of the relationship between cognitive style and brain function ultimately boils down to crude analogies."

There is a lack of empirical research or evidence to support the the core aspects of NLP or the claim that NLP is an effective and rapid set of techniques for enhancing psycho-therapeutic practice, interpersonal communication and social influence. Heap (1988) remarks that if the assertions made by proponents of NLP about representational systems and their behavioural manifestations are correct, then its founders have made remarkable discoveries about the human mind and brain, which would have important implications for human psychology, particularly cognitive science and neuropsychology. Yet NLP is rarely discussed in learned textbooks and has limited number of journal articles dedicated. Most often NLP has been taught via short seminars and workshop, audio programs and books in a variety of application areas rather than at university. Although it is sometimes taught at continuing educational colleges connected to university. A small number of universities are offering postgraduate courses in neuro-linguistic programming in the United Kingdom, and in Australia a postgraduate course is accredited. In a Delphi poll of experts in psychology and psychotherapy, 73.3% of respondents reported they were familiar with NLP as an approach to treatment mental and behavioural disorders ranged. However, most of them reported that NLP has been discredited for the treatment of mental and behavioural disorders. Heaps states that generalisations about the mind and behaviour, such as the those purported by NLP proponents, can only be arrived at through prolonged, systematic, and meticulous investigation of human subjects using empirical procedures. Heap (1988) stated "There is just no other way of doing this". In general, authors in the field of NLP have rarely expressed an interest in providing a coherent theory instead they often state their primary aim in modeling "what works". They also claim there is ample evidence for NLP as an eclectic approach drawing from existing "cognitive-behavioural approaches, Gestalt therapy, hypnotherapy, family therapy, and brief therapy. A counter example is offered by John Grinder who argued, in retrospect that the meta-model, for example, drew from his expertise in transformational grammar and empirical work in collaboration with Bandler between 1973 and 1975. Tosey and Mathison state that "the pragmatic and often anti-theoretical stance by the founders has left a legacy of little engagement between practitioner and academic communities".

The experimental research that does exist was mostly carried out in the 1980s and 1990s and on the whole it was unsupportive of the central assumptions and core models of NLP. It consisted of laboratory experimentation testing Bandler and Grinder's hypotheses that a person's preferred sensory mode of thinking can be revealed by observing eye movement cues and sensory predicates in language use. A research review conducted by Christopher Sharpley which focussed on preferred representational systems, in 1984, followed by another review in 1987 in response to a critique published by Einspruch and Forman, concluded that there was little evidence for its usefulness as an effective counseling tool. Reviewing the literature in 1988, Michael Heap also concluded that objective and fair investigations had shown no support for NLP claims about 'preferred representational systems'. A research committee working for United States National Research Council led by Daniel Druckman came to two conclusions. First, the committee "found little if any" evidence to support NLP’s assumptions or to indicate that it is effective as a strategy for social influence. It assumes that by tracking another’s eye movements and language, an NLP trainer can shape the person’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions (Dilts, 1983). There is no scientific support for these assumptions." Secondly, the committee "were impressed with the modeling approach used to develop the technique. The technique was developed from careful observations of the way three master psychotherapists conducted their sessions, emphasizing imitation of verbal and nonverbal behaviors... This then led the committee to take up the topic of expert modeling in the second phase of its work."

These studies, in particular Sharpley's literature review, marked a decline in empirical research of NLP, and particularly in matching sensory predicates and its use in counsellor-client relationship in counseling psychology. Barry Beyerstein (1995) states that NLP was based on outmoded scientific theories, and that its 'explanation' of the relationship between cognitive style and brain function was no more than crude analogy. According to Efran and Lukens (1990), claiming that "original interest in NLP turned to disillusionment after the research and now it is rarely even mentioned in psychotherapy"(p.122)

However, the conclusions of Sharpley's review have been contested on the grounds that the studies carried out were not sufficient tests of the specific models and techniques tested, and that the studies contained numerous methodological errors.

Concepts and methods

The early models

NLP began with the studies of three "master psychotherapists", Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, and Milton Erickson. Grinder and Bandler reviewed many hours of audio and video of the three therapists and spent months imitating how they worked with clients, in order to replicate or 'model' the communication patterns which supposedly made these individuals more successful than their peers. The studies were an attempt to identify why particular psychotherapists were so effective with their patients. Rather than take a purely theoretical approach, Bandler and Grinder sought to observe what the therapists were doing, categorize it, and 'model' it.

Bandler and Grinder aimed to learn and codify the "know-how" (as opposed to "know-what" [facts] or "know-why" [science]) that set these experts apart from their peers. The expert therapists knew what they were doing, but there were tacit aspects of this knowledge (i.e., subtleties which cannot be explained or codified and can only be transmitted via training or gained through personal experience). In the initial phase of the modeling process, Bandler and Grinder spent months observing, in person and via recordings, and imitating how their models worked with clients. The initial part ("unconscious uptake") of the modeling process involved putting aside prior knowledge or expectations.

While the style and approach of these psychotherapists were apparently different, Bandler and Grinder believed that all experts in human communication (including Perls, Satir and Erickson) have patterns in common that could be learned by others:

They claimed that there were a few common traits expert communicators – whether top therapists, top executives or top salespeople – all seemed to share:
  • Everything they did in their work was in active pursuit of a clearly held goal or objective, rather than reacting to change.
  • They were exceedingly flexible in approach and refused to be tied down to using their skills in any one fixed way of thinking or working.
  • They had a strong awareness of the non-verbal feedback (unconscious communication and metaphor) they were getting, and responded to it - usually in kind rather than by analyzing it.
  • They enjoyed the challenges of difficult ("resistant") clients, seeing them as a chance to learn rather than an intractable "problem"
  • They respected the client as someone doing the best they knew how (rather than judging them as "broken" or "working")
  • They had certain common skills and things they were aware of and noticed, that were intuitively "wired in".
  • They worked with precision, purpose and skill.
  • They kept trying different approaches until they learned enough about the structure holding a problem in place to change it.


As a result, Bandler and Grinder (1979) believed that there a few behaviour essential patterns underlying successful communication in therapy, business and sales, summarized as four main patterns:
  1. the ability to set specific goals and outcomes
  2. the behavioral flexibility to attain the specified goals and outcomes
  3. the sensory acuity to be responsive to feedback and to adjust current behavior and/or goals if it is not working
  4. self-maintenance to be able to monitor one's internal state and make adjustments as needed


The methods of observation and imitation Bandler and Grinder used to learn and codify the initial models of NLP came to be known as Modeling. Proponents maintain that NLP Modeling is not confined to therapy but can be applied to all human learning. Another aspect of NLP modeling is understanding the patterns of one's own behaviors in order to 'model' the more successful parts of oneself.

Meta model

The meta model can be seen as a heuristic that responds to the words and phrases that reveal unconscious limitations and faulty thinking — the distortions, generalizations and deletions in language. Bandler and Grinder observed similar patterns in the communication of Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir (and gleaned from a set of transformational grammar language categories). The meta model seeks to recover unspoken information, and to challenge generalization the other distorted messages that involve restrictive thinking and beliefs. The intent is to help someone develop new choice in thinking and behavior. By listening to and carefully responding to the distortions (generalizations and deletions) in a client's sentences, the practitioner seeks to respond to the syntactic form of the sentence rather than the content itself.

For example, if someone said, "everyone must love me," the message is overly general as it does not specify any particular person or group of people. Examples of meta model responses include "which people, specifically?" or "all people?" and questions to define the criteria that would be acceptable for this person to know when he or she is experiencing the state of "love". The practitioner also understands that words such as "must" also indicates necessity or lack of choice on the part of the speaker. A meta-model response might be, "what would happen if they did/didn't?" Practitioners choose when to respond and when not to, using softeners and linkage phrases from the Milton model to maintain rapport.

Milton model

In contrast to the Meta Model of NLP, which seeks to specify information, is the Milton Erickson-inspired Milton model described by Bandler and Grinder as "artfully vague". In it the communicator makes statements that seem specific but allow the listener to fill in their own meaning for what is being said. It makes use of pacing and leading, ambiguity, metaphor, embedded suggestion, and multiple-meaning sentence structures. It has been described as "a way of using language to induce and maintain trance in order to contact the hidden resources of our personality". The Milton model has three primary aspects:
  1. to assist in building and maintaining rapport with the client.
  2. to overload and distract the conscious mind so that unconscious communication can be cultivated.
  3. to allow for interpretation in the words offered to the client and allow the client to fill in their own meaning for what is said.


After spending months closely studying Erickson's language (verbal and non-verbal) and imitating the way that Erickson worked with clients, Bandler and Grinder published the Milton model in 1976/1977 under the title The Patterns of Milton H. Erickson Volumes I & II. In the preface, Erickson said, "Although this book [...] is far from being a complete description of my methodologies, as they so clearly state it is a much better explanation of how I work than I, myself, can give. I know what I do, but to explain how I do it is much too difficult for me." Erickson was known for his use of unconventional approaches, including the use of stories, and for deeply entering the world of his clients. The Milton model is a way of communicating based on the hypnotic language patterns of Milton Erickson.

Representational systems and accessing cues

The basic assumption of NLP is that internal mental processes such as problem solving, memory, and language consist of visual, auditory, kinesthetic, (and possibly olfactory and gustatory) representations (often shortened to VAK or VAKOG) that are engaged when people think about problems, tasks, or activities, or engage in them. Internal sensory representations are constantly being formed and activated. Whether making conversation, talking about a problem, reading a book, kicking a ball, or riding a horse, internal representations have an impact on performance. NLP techniques generally aim to change behavior through modifying the internal representations, examining the way a person represents a problem, and building desirable representations of alternative outcomes or goals. In addition, Bandler and Grinder claimed that the representational system use could be tracked using eye movements, gestures, breathing, sensory predicates, and other cues in order to improve rapport and social influence.

Some of these ideas of sensory representations and associated therapeutic ideas appear to have been imported from gestalt therapy shortly after its creation in the 1970s.

Accessing cues

Bandler and Grinder claimed that matching and responding to the representational systems people use to think is generally beneficial for enhancing rapport and influence in communication. They proposed several models for this purpose including eye accessing cues and sensory predicates. The direction of eye accesses was considered an indicator of the type of internal mental process (see the eye accessing cue chart).

The sensory predicates, breathing posture and gestures were also considered important. In the sensory predicate model, if someone said:
  • "that rings true for me", rings predicates auditory processing.
  • "I can see a bright future for myself. Things are much clearer now.", the sensory predicates see and bright indicates some internal visual processing. The sensory predicates clearer would indicate some internal visual representation.
  • "I have a good grasp of the concept", the sensory predicates grasp and hold indicates primarily kinesthetic processing
These verbal cues are often coupled with posture changes, eye movements, skin color, or breathing shifts. Essentially, it was claimed that the practitioner could ascertain the current sensory mode of thinking from external cues such as the direction of eye movements, posture, breathing, tone of voice, and the use of sensory-based predicates.

Preferred representational systems

The majority of research (as published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology in the early 1980s) focused on Bandler and Grinder's claim that a preferred representational system (PRS) exists and is effective in counseling-client influence. Put simply, they claimed that some people prefer visual, auditory, or kinesthetic processing. Further, a therapist (or communicator) could be more influential by matching the other's preferred system. Christopher Sharpley's review of counselling psychology literature on PRS found that it could not be reliably assessed, it was not certain that it even existed, and it could not be demonstrated to reliably assist counselors. Buckner (published after Sharpley) found some support for the notion that eye movements can indicate visual and auditory components of thought in that moment.

While some NLP training programs and books still feature PRS, many have modified or dropped it. Richard Bandler, for example, de-emphasized its importance in an interview with the Enhancing Human Performance subcommittee. John Grinder, in the New Code of NLP, emphasizes individual calibration and sensory acuity, precluding such a rigidly specified model as the one described above. Responding directly to sensory experience requires an immediacy which respects the importance of context. Grinder also stated in an interview that a representational system diagnosis lasts about 30 seconds.

Submodalities

Submodalities are the fine details of sensory representational systems or modalities. In the late 1970s, the use of visual imagery was common in goal setting, sports psychology, and meditation. Not only did Bandler and Grinder begin to explore imagery in all sensory modalities (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Gustatory, and Olfactory), they also were interested in the qualities/properties of internal representations, the "submodalities".

Bandler and Grinder observed that for some people, by increasing the brightness, changing the color or location of an internal imagery, intensity of their state also increased. They observed similar patterns in different sensory modalities (e.g. Auditorial and Kinesthetic systems) in other people and changes depending on context.

This work with submodalities inspired a number of novel interventions within NLP, therapeutic, and personal development settings. For example, the swish pattern is proposed to reduce unwanted habits. It involves first deciding on a positive alternative. The desired alternative may be in the form of a representation of the self, resourceful and happy. The internal representations that previously triggered unwanted behavior are identified and recoded in the form of something that is uninteresting to the participant, typically small and dark. The desirable outcome recoded in a form of something that is highly motivating, typically bright, colourful, and large. After the initial preparation, the participant is asked to bring to mind the representation of the unwanted behavior. As this is brought to mind the participant immediately makes it small and dark and brings forth an image of the desired alternative. The process is repeated and revised as required. To test it, the participant then put himself into the context where the old behavior used to be triggered. The process is considered successful if the participant remains resourceful when recalling the context where the unwanted behavior used to occur and automatically thinks of the desired alternative.

Techniques

Rapport

NLP proposed a number of simple techniques involving matching, pacing and leading for establishing rapport with people. There are a number of techniques explored in NLP that are supposed to be beneficial in building and maintaining rapport such as: matching and pacing non-verbal behavior (body posture, head position, gestures, voice tone, and so forth) and matching speech and body rhythms of others (breathing, pulse, and so forth).

Anchoring

Anchoring is the process by which a particular state or response is associated (anchored) with a unique anchor. An anchor is most often a gesture, voice tone or touch but could be any unique visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory or gustatory stimulus. It is claimed that by recalling past resourceful states one can anchor those states to make them available in new situations. A psychotherapist might anchor positive states like calmness and relaxation, or confidence in the treatment of phobias and anxiety, such as in public speaking. Proponents state that anchors are capable of being formed and reinforced by repeated stimuli, and thus are analogous to classical conditioning.

Anchoring appears to have been imported into NLP from family systems therapy as part of the 'model' of Virginia Satir.

Swish

Swish is a novel visualization technique for reducing unwanted habits. The process involves disrupting a pattern of thought that usually leads to an unwanted behavior such that it leads to a desired alternative. The process involves visualizing the trigger or 'cue image' that normally leads to the unwanted behavior pattern, such as a smoker's hand with a cigarette moving towards the face. The cue image is then switched a number of times with a visualization of a desired alternative, such as a self-image looking resourceful and fulfilled. The swish is tested by having the person think of the original cue image that used to lead to the undesired behavior, or by presenting the actual cue such as a cigarette to the client, while observing the responses. If the client stays resourceful then the process is complete. The name swish comes from the sound made by the practitioner/trainer as the visualizations are switched. Swish also makes use of submodalities, for example, the internal image of the unwanted behavior is typically shrunk to a small and manageable size and the desired outcome (or self-image) is enhanced by making it brighter and larger than normal. The swish was first published by Richard Bandler.

Reframing

In NLP, reframing is the process whereby an element of communication is presented so as to transform an individual's perception of the meanings or "frames" attributed to words, phrases and events. By changing the way the event is perceived "responses and behaviors will also change. Reframing with language allows you to see the world in a different way and this changes the meaning. Reframing is the basis of jokes, myths, legends, fairy tales and most creative ways of thinking." The concept was common to a number of therapies prior to NLP. For example, it appeared in the approaches of Virginia Satir, Fritz Perls and Milton Erickson and in strategic therapy of Paul Watzlawick. There are examples in children's literature. Pollyanna, for example, would play The Glad Game whenever she felt downhearted to remind herself of the things that she could do, and not worry about the things that she could not change.

Six step reframe

An example of reframing is found in the six-step reframe which involves distinguishing between an underlying intention and the consequent behaviors for the purpose of achieving the intention by different and more successful behaviors. It is based on the notion that there is a positive intention behind all behaviors, but that the behaviors themselves may be unwanted or counterproductive in other ways. NLP uses this staged process to identify the intention and create alternative choices to satisfy that intention.

Ecology and congruency

Ecology in NLP deals with the relationships between a client and his or her natural, social and created environments and how a proposed goal or change might retreat to his or her relationships and environment. It is a frame within which the desired outcome is checked against the consequences client's life and mind as systemic processes. It treats the client's relationship with self as a system and his or her relationship with others as subsystems that interact so when someone considers a change it is important therefore to take into account the consequences on the system as a whole. Like gestalt therapy a goal of NLP is to help the client choose goals and make changes that achieve a sense of personal congruency and integrity with personal and other aspects of the client's life.

Parts integration

Parts Integration creates a metaphor of different aspects (parts) of ourselves which are in conflict due to different goals, perceptions and beliefs. 'Parts integration' is the process of 'identifying' these parts and negotiating (or working) with each of these parts separately & together, with a goal of resolving internal conflict. Successful parts negotiation occurs by listening to and providing opportunities to meet the needs of each part and adequately addressing each part's interests so that they are each satisfied with the desired outcome. It often involves negotiating with the conflicting parts of a person to achieve resolution. Parts integration appears to be modeled on 'parts' from family therapy and has similarities to ego-state therapy in psychoanalysis in that it seeks to resolve conflicts that constitute a "family of self" within a single individual.

Uses

Psychotherapy

In contrast to mainstream psychotherapy, NLP does not concentrate on diagnosis, treatment and assessment of mental and behavioral disorders. Instead, it focuses on helping clients to overcome their own self-perceived, or subjective, problems. It seeks to do this while respecting their own capabilities and wisdom to choose additional goals for the intervention as they learn more about their problems, and to modify and specify those goals further as a result of extended interaction with a therapist. The two main therapeutic uses of NLP are use as an adjunct by therapists practicing in other therapeutic disciplines, or as a specific therapy called Neurolinguistic Psychotherapy (NLPt) which is a recognized by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy.

Interpersonal communications and persuasion

While the main goals of Neuro-linguistic programming are therapeutic, the patterns have also been adapted for use outside of psychotherapy including business communication, management training, sales, sports, and interpersonal influence.

For some, the techniques, such as anchoring, reframing, therapeutic metaphor and hypnotic suggestion, were intended to be used in the therapeutic setting. Research in counseling psychology found rapport to be no more effective than existing listening skills taught to counselors. Furthermore, Druckman found weak empirical support for PRS and little theoretical support in counseling psychology and the experimental literature for NLP as a technique for social influence. Sharpley concluded that most of the other techniques available in NLP were already available in counseling.

Outside of psychotherapy, the meta model, for example, is seen by some as a promising business management communication technique.

See also



Notes and references

  1. "'n. Neurolinguistic programming' Oxford English Dictionary (2003). Retrieved January 23, 2009, from [1]
  2. From the book jacket of Bandler and Grinder (1975b)
  3. Tosey, P. & Mathison, J., (2006) " Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming Centre for Management Learning & Development, School of Management, University of Surrey.
  4. p.2
  5. However, Bandler has claimed that humans are literally programmable. "When I started using the term 'programming,' people became really angry. They said things like, 'You're saying we're like machines. We're human beings, not robots.' Actually, what I was saying was just the opposite. We're the only machine that can program itself. We are 'meta-programmable.' We can set deliberately designed, automated programs that work by themselves to take care of boring, mundane tasks, thus freeing up our minds to do other, more interesting and creative, things." Bandler, R., (2008) Richard Bandler's Guide to Trance-formation: How to Harness the Power of Hypnosis to Ignite Effortless and Lasting Change Publisher: Health Communications (HCi) ISBN 0757307779
  6. It is explicitly stated (e.g. Steve Andreas (forward p.ii) in Bandler & Grinder, 1979; Lankton, 1980, pp 9-13) that by using NLP, problems such as phobias and learning disabilities may be disposed of in less than a single one-hour session; whereas with other therapies, progress may take weeks or months.
  7. Full reference missing. According to Michael Heap in a paper on NLP written in 1988 for The Psychologist (the monthly magazine of the British Psychological Society p 261-262) one NLP workshop announcement claimed that spelling problems may be eliminated in five minutes (NLP Training Programme).
  8. Bandler and Grinder state, "Our desire in this book [The Structure of Magic] is not to question the magical quality of our experience of these therapeutic wizards, but rather to show that this magic which they perform - psychotherapy...like other complex human activities such as painting, composing music, or placing a man on the moon - has structure and is, therefore learnable, given the appropriate resources. Neither is it our intention to claim that reading a book can ensure that you will have these dynamic qualities. We especially do not wish to make the claim that we have discovered the 'right' or most power approach to psychotherapy. We only desire to present a specific set of tools that seem to us to be implicit in the actions of these therapists, so you may begin or continue the never-ending process to improve, enrich and enlarge the skills you offer as a people-helper".
  9. It was even alleged (Grinder & Bandler, 1981, p 166) that a single session of NLP combined with hypnosis can eliminate certain eyesight problems such as myopia, and can even cure a common cold (op.cit., p 174)…..(Also, op.cit., p 169) Bandler and Grinder make the claim that by combining NLP methods with hypnotic regression, a person can be not only effectively cured of a problem, but also rendered amnesic for the fact that they had the problem in the first place. Thus, after a session of therapy, smokers may deny that they smoked before, even when their family and friends insist otherwise, and they are unable to account for such evidence as nicotine stains’.
  10. e.g. Bandler & Andreas 1985
  11. p.6 Bandler, R. & Grinder, J. 1975b, The Structure of Magic: a book about language and therapy. Palo Alto: Science and Behavior Books
  12. O'Connor, Joseph & John Seymour (1993). Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People. London, UK: Thorsons. ISBN 1855383446.(see p.xii)
  13. Berne, Eric (2005) "Chapter 10: How useful are 'popular' models of interpersonal communication?" in Interpersonal Communication; Taylor & Francis, United Kingdom. p162-180. ISBN 9780415181075
  14. Heap. M., (1988) Neurolinguistic programming: An interim verdict. In M. Heap (Ed.) Hypnosis: Current Clinical, Experimental and Forensic Practices. London: Croom Helm, pp.268-280.
  15. In a review of the coaching industry in Australia, 13% of respondents reported that they had been trained in NLP. -- Spence, GB., Cavanagh, MJ., & Grant, AM., Duty of care in an unregulated industry: Initial findings on the diversity and practices of Australian coaches International Coaching Psychology Review 1, 71-85.
  16. Heap (1988) states, "How widespread or popular NLP has become in practice is difficult to say with precision, though. As an indication the number of people to have been trained to `Practitioner’ level in the UK since NLP’s inception seems likely to number at least 50,000. Trainings in NLP are found across the world, principally in countries where English is the first language, but including Norway, Spain and Brazil. There is no unified structure to the NLP practitioner community. Probably in common with other emergent fields, there is diversity in both practice and organisation, and there are resulting tensions".
  17. Spitzer, R. (1992) Virginia Satir and the Origins of NLP, Anchor Point, 6(7)
  18. Frank Clancy and Heidi Yorkshire (1989) "The Bandler Method". 'Mother Jones' Magazine
  19. John Grinder, Suzette Elgin (1973). "A Guide to Transformational Grammar: History, Theory, Practice". Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 0030801265. Reviewed by Frank H. Nuessel, Jr. The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 58, No. 5/6 (Sep. - Oct., 1974), pp. 282-283
  20. Bradley, E., Biedermann, HJ. (1985) "Bandler and Grinder's neurolinguistic programming: Its historical context and contribution." Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 22(1) pp.59-62.
  21. Devilly GJ (2005) "Power therapies and possible threats to the science of psychology and psychiatry" Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 39:437–45(9)
  22. Druckman and Swets (eds) (1988) Enhancing Human Performance: Issues, Theories, and Techniques, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Academy Press.
  23. Corballis, MC., "Are we in our right minds?" In Sala, S., (ed.) (1999), Mind Myths: Exploring Popular Assumptions About the Mind and Brain Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons. ISBN 0-471-98303-9 (pp. 25-41) see page p.41
  24. Beyerstein, B. 'Distinguishing Science from Pseudoscience', Centre for Professional and Curriculum Development, Dept. Psychology, Simon Fraser University.
  25. Norcross et al. (2006)Discredited Psychological Treatments and Tests: A Delphi Poll. Professional Psychology: Reasearch and Practice, American Psychological Association.
  26. For more extensive discussion of NLP’s theory in relation learning see Tosey and Mathison (2003; 2008)."[2].
  27. Tosey P. & Mathison, J., "Fabulous Creatures Of HRD: A Critical Natural History Of Neuro-Linguistic Programming ", University of Surrey Paper presented at the 8th International Conference on Human Resource Development Research & Practice across Europe, Oxford Brookes Business School, 26th – 28th June 2007
  28. They add that "The literature in academic journals is minimal; in the field of HRD see (Georges 1996), (Ashok & Santhakumar 2002), (Thompson, Courtney, & Dickson 2002). There has been virtually no published investigation into how NLP is used in practice. The empirical research consists largely of laboratory-based studies from the 1980s and 1990s, which investigated two particular notions from within NLP, the `eye movement’ model (Bandler & Grinder 1979), and the notion of the `primary representational system’, according to which individuals have a preferred sensory mode of internal imagery indicated by their linguistic predicates (Grinder & Bandler 1976)." - Tosey and Mathison 2007
  29. See NLP and science for a description of the literature.
  30. Dilts, Robert (1983) Roots of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Meta Publications, Capitola, CA, ISBN 0916990125
  31. Gelso and Fassinger (1990) "Counseling Psychology: Theory and Research on Interventions" Annual Review of Psychology
  32. Efran, J S. Lukens M.D. (1990) Language, structure, and change: frameworks of meaning in psychotherapy, Published by W.W. Norton, New York. ISBN 0393701034
  33. Einspruch, E. L., & Forman, B. D. (1985). "Observations Concerning Research Literature on Neuro-Linguistic Programming". Journal of Counseling Psychology, 32(4), 589-596.
  34. Beck, C.E., & Beck E.A., "Test of the Eye-Movement Hypothesis of Neurolinguistic Programming: A Rebuttal of Conclusions" Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1984, Vol. 58, p 175-176
  35. Druckman, Daniel (2004) "Be All That You Can Be: Enhancing Human Performance" Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Volume 34, Number 11, November 2004, pp. 2234-2260(27)
  36. Hill, RG., (2007) "Review of Brief NLP therapy." Existential Analysis. Jan Vol 18(1) 189-190
  37. Robert Dilts and Roxanna Erickson Klein (2006) " Historical: Neuro-linguistic Programming" in The Milton H. Erickson Foundation: Newsletter Summer 2006, 26(2).
  38. Druckman et al. (1988) Enhancing Human Performance: Issues, Theories, and Techniques see page p.138
  39. Frogs into Princes, p.54-55.
  40. Frogs into Princes, p.10: "One of the systematic things that Erickson and Satir and a lot of other effective therapists do is to notice unconsciously how the person they are talking to thinks, and make use of that information in lots and lots of different ways."
  41. According to Haley, a well known writer on Milton Erickson, Erickson was notable amongst psychiatrists, because he would respond to metaphor with other metaphors, rather than by attempting to "interpret".
  42. For an example of "wired in" precise skills, Frogs into Princes, p.77: "One of the things that we noticed about Sal Minuchin, Virginia Satir, Milton Erickson and Fritz Perls is that they intuitively had many of those twelve questions in the meta-model wired in."
  43. Frogs into Princes, p.162: "One of the things that I think distinguishes a really exquisite communicator from one who is not, is to be precise about your use of language... If you are precise about the way you phrase questions, you will get precise kinds of information back."
  44. Lyon, U. (1996) "Influence, communication and neuro-linguistic programming in practice.", In J. Stewart and J. mcgoldrick (Eds) Human Resource Development: Strategies and Practice. London: Pitman Publishing.
  45. Jacobson, S. (1994), "Info-line: practical guidelines for training and development professionals", American Society For Training and Development Alexandria, VA Adapted version available online
  46. Pruett, Julie Annette Sikes (2002) The application of the neuro-linguistic programming model to vocal performance training D.M.A., The University of Texas at Austin, 151 pages; AAT 3108499
  47. Norma Barretta (2004) Review of Hypnotic Language: Its Structure and Use. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. Bloomingdale: Jan 2004. Vol.46, Iss. 3; pg. 261, 2 pgs
  48. Druckman and Swets (Eds) (1988) Enhancing Human Performance: Issues, Theories, and Techniques, National Academy Press.
  49. Sharpley, C. F. (1984). Predicate matching in NLP: A review of research on the preferred representational system. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 31(2), 238-248.
  50. Buckner, Meara, Reese, and Reese (1987) "Eye Movement as an Indicator of Sensory Components in Thought" Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol. 34(3), pp.283-287
  51. Tosey, P. Jane Mathison (2003) Neuro-linguistic Programming and learning theory: a response The Curriculum Journal Vol.14 No.3 p.371-388 See also (available online): Neuro-linguistic programming: its potential for learning and teaching in formal education
  52. Krugman, M., Kirsch, I., Wickless, C., Milling, L., Golicz, H., Toth, A., (1985) "Neuro-linguistic programming treatment for anxiety: Magic or myth?." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Aug, Vol. 53(4) pp. 526-530.
  53. Haber, Russell, (2002): "Virginia Satir: An integrated, humanistic approach" Contemporary Family Therapy, Vol 24(1), Mar 2002,p32 pp. 23-34 ISSN 1573-3335
  54. Bandler, 1984. see p.134-137
  55. Masters, B Rawlins, M, Rawlins, L, Weidner, J. (1991) "The NLP swish pattern: An innovative visualizing technique." Journal of Mental Health Counseling. Vol 13(1) Jan 1991, 79-90. " abstract
  56. Bandler, R., Andreas, S. (ed) and Andreas, C. (ed) (1985) Using Your Brain-for a Change ISBN 0911226273
  57. Joseph O'Connor NLP: A Practical Guide to Achieving the Results You Want: Workbook Harper Collins 2001
  58. Sterman, CM (1990) Neuro-Linguistic Programming in Alcoholism Treatment. Haworth Press. ISBN 1560240024 p.
  59. Alice Mills (1999) Pollyanna and the not so glad game. Children's Literature. Storrs: 1999. Vol.27 pg. 87, 18 pgs
  60. Cooper and Seal (2006) "Theory and Approaches - Eclectic-integrative approaches: Neuro-linguistic programming" In Feldtham and Horton (Eds) The SAGE Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy 2nd edition ISBN 978-1412902755
  61. Schabracq, M. (2003) "Everyday Well-Being and Stress in Work and Organisations" In The Handbook of Work and Health Psychology Schabracq, Winnubst & Cooper (Eds.) John Wiley and Sond. p.15 ISBN 0471892769
  62. Field, ES., (1990) Neurolinguistic programming as an adjunct to other psychotherapeutic/hypnotherapeutic interventions. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis.
  63. Bridoux, D., Weaver, M., (2000) "Neuro-linguistic psychotherapy." In Therapeutic perspectives on working with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients. Davies, Dominic (Ed); Neal, Charles (Ed). (pp. 73-90). Buckingham, England: Open University Press (2000) xviii, 187 pp. ISBN 0335203337
  64. Yemm, G., (2006) "Can NLP help or harm your business?" Industrial and Commercial Training, 38(1), pp. 12-17(6)
  65. Zastrow, C., "Social workers and salesworkers: Similarities and differences." Journal of Independent Social Work. 4(3) p.7-16
  66. Ingalls, Joan S. (1988) "Cognition and athletic behavior: An investigation of the NLP principle of congruence." Dissertation Abstracts International. Vol 48(7-B), pp.2090.
  67. Dowlen, A. (1996) "NLP - help or hype? Investigating the uses of neuro-linguistic programming in management learning " Career Development International, 1 (1) , pp. 27-34(8)


Further reading

Books
  • Bandler, R., Grinder, J. (1979) Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming. Real People Press. 149 pages. ISBN 0911226192
  • Bandler, R., Grinder, J. (1975) The Structure of Magic I: A Book About Language and Therapy Science and Behavior Books. 198 pages. ISBN 0831400447
  • Bandler, R., Grinder, J. (1981) Reframing: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Transformation of Meaning Real People Press. ISBN 0911226257
  • Bandler, R., Andreas, S. (ed) and Andreas, C. (ed) (1985) Using Your Brain-for a Change ISBN 0911226273
  • Bradbury, A., Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Time for an Informed Review. Skeptical Intelligencer 11, 2008.
  • Dilts, R., Hallbom, T., Smith, S. (1990) Beliefs: Pathways to Health & Well-being
  • Dilts, R. (1990) Changing belief systems with NLP Meta Publications. ISBN 0916990249
  • Grinder, J., Bandler, R. (1976) Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson Volume I ISBN 091699001X
  • Grinder, M. Lori Stephens (Ed) (1991) Righting the Educational Conveyor Belt ISBN 1555520367
  • Laborde, G. (1987) Influencing with Integrity: Management Skills for Communication and Negotiation
  • Newbrook, Mark, 'Linguistic aspects of "Neurolinguistic programming"', Skeptical Intelligencer 11, 2008.
  • O'Connor, J., Seymour, J. Dilts, R. (foreword), Grinder, J. (preface) (1995) Introducing Neuro-linguistic Programming: The New Psychology of Personal Excellence Aquarian Press. 224 pages. ISBN 1852740736
  • Satir, V., Grinder, J., Bandler, R. (1976) Changing with Families: A Book about Further Education for Being Human Science and Behavior Books. ISBN 083140051X
  • Tosey P. & Mathison, J., "Fabulous Creatures Of HRD: A Critical Natural History Of Neuro-Linguistic Programming ", University of Surrey Paper presented at the 8th International Conference on Human Resource Development Research & Practice across Europe, Oxford Brookes Business School, 26 – 28 June 2007.
Journal articles


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