What is NLP

What is NLP?

Definition: NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. It is the study of human excellence and how it can be modelled. It is the ability to integrally and linguistically affect a person’s Neurology to achieve a desired outcome through a cooperative flow of energy and ideas.

N- Neuro

The neurology of the mind, through which our experience is processed via our five senses:






L- Linguistic

Serves to code and give meaning to our neural representations through our language and other nonverbal communication systems, such as:






Self Talk

P- Programming

Our patterns and repeated actions, the automatic systems we use, including our communication with others and with ourselves in our neurology to achieve our outcomes

Brief History: NLP was first created in the 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder who discovered the connection between neurological Reponses and behavioural patterns learned through experience. They discovered that these could be changed to achieve specific goals. Bandler and Grinder studied therapists who were achieving amazing results, with particular attention on hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, family therapist Virginia Satir and Gestalt therapist Fritz Perls and why their approach to therapy was so effective. They found the therapists to be using particular patterns of language. It was learned that they had highly developed sensory acuity – an ability to unconsciously monitor their clients breathing, pulse, etc. These skills allowed the therapists to quickly build rapport and helped them to identify when to probe a client’s communication for deeper hidden meanings. They were able to encourage new ways of thinking in their clients that bought about fast effective change.  Having identified these patterns of language and behaviour, it was possible to build models to teach other therapists the route to therapeutic excellence.

Presuppositions of NLP

NLP presuppositions form the basic beliefs and attitudes and provide the foundations for effective NLP practitioners. They are not necessarily true, but produce useful results. Beliefs are usually self fulfilling. If we believe someone doesn’t like us, our defensive manner can make this a reality. If we believe we can master a skill, we persevere until we do.

Major Presuppositions of NLP: 

  1. Communication is redundant. You are always communicating within 3 major representational systems
  2. The meaning of your communication is the response that you get. A listener will respond to the experience you create.
  3. The map is not the territory. People respond to their maps of reality.
  4. Requisite variety.  The element in a system with the most flexibility will be the controlling element.
  5. People work perfectly. No one is wrong or broken.
  6. People always make the best choice available to them at the time.
  7. Every behaviour is useful in some context.
  8. Choice is better than no choice.
  9. Just about anyone can learn to do anything. Experience can be modelled and taught.
  10. People already have all the resources they need.  What they need is access to the right resource at the appropriate time and place.
  11. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.  Utilise all experience.
  12.                         All tasks are achievable by breaking them down into small enough chunks.
  13. Behind every behaviour is a positive intention. Even behind apparent harmful behaviour there is positive intention.
  14. Symptoms such as pain. Anxiety, illness etc. are communications about needed action.
  15. We are all responsible for creating our own experience. Even when challenging events arise that we have no control over we are responsible for our response to these events. We create our environment through our beliefs, filters, capabilities and behaviours.
  16. Energy flows where attention goes.
  17. Intention and behaviour are different. Accept the person, change the behaviour.

What is NLP used for?

NLP can be used to enhance all areas of life. To offer some examples, NLP can be used to enhance performance, to help an individual control their emotional state and responses and to create congruent goals and to stay focussed on them. NLP can be used to remove phobias and help with anxiety disorders. Unproductive behaviours and responses can be removed (road rage or unexplained allergies) and more productive behaviours and responses can be identified and inserted (calm driving or normal digestive behaviour). NLP can remove limiting beliefs (I can’t save, I’ll never be loved, I’m not as smart as my co-workers) empowering people to move forward in life.