Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

What is it?

Neuro-linguistic programming is a form of psychotherapy that was devised in the 1970s by linguist John Grinder and therapist Richard Bandler. The main principle is that our life experiences programme the way we see the world and ourselves, and the way we communicate with others. The way we think is revealed not only by our choice of words, but through our body language and eye movements and even subtle changes in skin colour/perspiration. The therapist draws the patient's attention to any unconscious thought patterns that may be having a detrimental effect on the patient's overall mental and even physical well-being, and attempts to 're-programme' their responses to the situation.

Neuro-linguistic programming has applications in the general contexts of sport, business, sales and education, as it can be a powerful tool in fostering self-confidence and effective communication. However, as a form of therapy, the focus tends to be the patient's attitude towards their illness. For example, a neuro-linguistic therapist would interpret someone who views themselves as ‘an asthmatic', rather than 'a person with asthma', as having let the condition take over. Negative patterns of thought are modified, so that the patient feels less limited by their illness, and their body's natural healing systems can be more effective; it is thought that the immune system may be stimulated by such a process.


Although neuro-linguistic programming is related to hypnotherapy, the practitioner does not usually induce a trance state in the patient. The patient and therapist will discuss the desired outcome of the therapy at each session, and what the patient feels they are doing to achieve it. The number of sessions required varies, but results are often seen after a relatively short period.

Many self-help books and videos are available, but it is advisable to consult a practitioner at the first stage.

What conditions may be improved?

Chronic pain
Panic attacks
Parkinson's disease

Support for patients with AIDS and cancer


The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
1 Regent Place
Warwickshire CV21 2PJ
Tel: 0870 443 5252

United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy
167-169 Great Portland Street
London W1N 5PB
Tel: 020 7436 3002

ANLP (Association for Neuro-Linguistic Programming)
PO Box 27071
London N2 OBZ
Tel: 0870 241 3276

International NLP Trainers Association
1201 Delta Glen Court
Vienna VA 22182
Tel: 001 703 757 7945
http://www inlpta.com

Society of NLP
44 Montgomery Street, 5th Floor
San Francisco
CA 94104
Tel: 001 415 955 0541


Joseph O’Connor, John Seymour - Introducing NLP ISBN: 1-85538-344-6

Robert Dilts, Tim Hallbom, Suzi Smith - Beliefs: Pathways to Health and Well Being ISBN: 1555520294

Joseph Connor,Ian Mc Dermott - NLP and Health ISBN: 0722532881

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