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Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) facilitates a change in the way an individual responds to thoughts or feelings by tapping into the function of the mind.

Ever since its beginnings in the 1970s, NLP’s simple, practical methods have proved both fascinating and popular for therapists and clients alike. To unpack what NLP is, how it works, and how it can benefit you, we’ve put together this handy guide.

What Is NLP?

Neuro-linguistic programming is a psychological therapeutic method stressing that a person can use techniques adopted by successful people to achieve their own individual goals.

Using successes and failures as a background, it encourages a person to consider which thoughts, feelings, or actions are geared towards positive experiences, and which prove a hindrance.

Within NLP, there are no negative actions, as failure is simply regarded as a step in the process of learning and success.

NLP is founded on the theory that the senses – and the emphasis placed on sensory input – help an individual to create their own map of the world.

The system used to make sense of experiences is called a primary representational system (PRS), and the therapist must understand an individual’s PRS in order to interpret and alter thoughts, feelings and actions.

NLP practitioners take into account a person’s way of speaking, their actions, thoughts and feelings in order to form a view of how the person understands reality and the world around them. Practitioners then use NLP techniques to help the person replicate successful processes or techniques used by others.

What Happens During an NLP Session?

During a session, the therapist works to understand a person’s way of thinking, behaviours, emotions, and goals, before trying to identify their view of the world and primary representational system.

Using this information as a basis, the therapist will implement techniques to alter the way the person thinks, acts, or feels in a particular environment or situation.

With its strong foundation in Gestalt therapy, which was developed by Friz and Laura Perls and which focuses on an individual identifying change and implementing solutions in the here and now, NLP has a firm emphasis on the present and requires the individual to make steps towards change within the therapy session.

What Conditions Can NLP treat?

Advocates of NLP recommend its use for:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Phobias
  • Communication disorders or issues
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Addictions
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder

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