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The therapeutic use of Neuro-Linguistic Programming is called NLP Therapy or Neurolinguistic Psychotherapy (NLPt). It is a form of psychotherapy which draws on the principles and techniques of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP psychotherapists are usually also skilled in other techniques, such as Cognitive Therapy and will draw from them as required.


Neuro-linguistic programming is based upon helping clients to overcome their own self-perceived, or subjective, problems rather than those that others may feel they have. 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 the extended interaction.

The approach does not focus on the past, but instead, focuses on the present and future. The therapist/counselor uses respectful curiosity to invite the client to envision their preferred future and then therapist and client start attending to any moves towards it whether these are small increments or large changes. To support this, questions are asked about the client’s story, strengths and resources, and about exceptions to the problem. Scaling is also used as a tool to measure progress.

This differs from common clinical practice based upon certain conditions defined as "illness". NLP interventions are not usually guided by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) list of illness criteria; rather it views any condition whereby a person subjectively considers their life could be improved, equally appropriate to work with.

NLP can be used on a small scale, as separable techniques and principles, but individual methods are often not as effective or dependable used alone. By design it is also an entire model of diagnosis and therapeutic intervention. Used this way, the diagnostic aspect is intrinsic to and intertwined with the treatment. The NLP diagnosis determines the NLP intervention, every interaction in the treatment might modify the approach and diagnosis, and the client identifies, by considering the practitioner's input, whether there is useful material to them to consider.

So in a sense the efficacy of any intervention is in many ways considered to be a client judgement, rather than a clinical judgement, insofar as it is usually the client who had the perception of a problem initially and had judged the need to approach a therapist because of this. Also because of this, terms like "cure" are not part of NLP, primarily because NLP does not necessarily see presenting symptoms in terms of "illness" and "cure", per se.

David Aldridge states in his review of complementary therapies, that NLP's approach is to "recognize maladaptive ... patterns" and "intervene by talking directly to the somatic system responsible for the problem". [1]

Dr Richard Bolstad states in his 2003 paper connecting NLP back to neurological research results, that: "People come to psychotherapists and counsellors to solve a variety of problems. Most of these are due to strategies which are run by state-dependent neural networks that are quite dramatically separated from the rest of the person's brain. This means that the person [may well have] all the skills they need to solve their own problem, but those skills are kept in neural networks which are not able to connect with the networks from which their problems are run. The task of NLP change agents is often to [experientially help to] transfer skills from functional networks (networks that do things the person is pleased with) to less functional networks (networks that do things they are not happy about)." ("Putting The 'Neuro' Back Into NLP", 2003) [10]


NLP and variants were influenced by (Gestalt therapy, family systems therapy) and have influenced (eg. brief therapy, Neuro-linguistic psychotherapy, hypnotherapy) number approaches to psychotherapy. NLP has remained an eclectic field with no inherent controls over training or a professional code of ethics. According to Schutz in his guide to NLP training, training varies from very short, esoteric or hyped-up power courses at one extreme to 9 months of professional training under licensed psychotherapists or the equivalent. He advises caution in selection.[2][3]

Comparison with cognitive behavior therapies

Cognitive behavioral therapy, currently the most prevalent form of psychotherapy for the treatment of mental health disorders, has some conceptual and historical similarities to NLP. Lewis Walker, author of Changing with NLP stated that "NLP and CBT had not only paralleled each other's rise over the years, but also shared similar basic assumptions about in individuals in health and disease. Indeed, it became clear to me that there had also been a major cross-fertilsation of ideas and techniques between the two therapies."[4] Both are based on the idea that people act and feel based on their perception or maps of the world rather than the actual world (the map is not the territory) and involve an information processing perspective of mind. Both Cognitive therapy and NLP seek to identify and change "distorted" or "unrealistic" ways of thinking, and therefore to influence emotion and behavior (compare cognitive distortions of CBT with meta model of NLP). Both involve "reframing" and advise that behaviour change greatly facilitates the integration of new, more beneficial beliefs.[4] But they operate with different definitions of unconscious processes, and CBT assigns them "a less central role in influencing behaviour".[5] In contrast to the little empirical support for NLP in the literature, cognitive behavioral therapy and its forerunner cognitive therapy has been empirically validated and is widely used for the treatment of mental health and behavioral disorders, including major depressive disorders and anxiety disorders.[6][7]

Neurolinguistic Psychotherapy (NLPt)

Neurolinguistic Psychotherapy or NLPt is the agreed name of psychotherapy which is practiced by individuals trained in both psychotherapy and Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). The relevant professional body is the Neurolinguistic Psychotherapy and Counselling Association (NLPtCA). This group is currently a member of the Experiential Constructivist Section of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), and individuals who meet the rigorous standards for accreditation become UKCP-Accredited Neurolinguistic Psychotherapists. As such, the NLPtCA has agreed policies concerning professional ethics, training standards, accreditation procedures, and dealing with complaints.

Professional associations

NLP has been coordinated within some industry associations, psychotherapy associations, and has been used or suggested as an approach by some mental health bodies.[8] NLP is used as an adjunct by therapists in other disciplines and also as a therapy in its own right as NLPt. NLP has influenced some corporate executive coaches who provide one-on-one training and collaborative relationships to executives interested in development skills in career or business and may help resolve related personal issues.[9][How to reference and link to summary or text] A number of UK NHS regional authorities use NLP for staff training at various levels, for training in rapport and communication in the workplace and with patients[10] and for personal development in management training.[11] The Society of Medical NLP runs courses for health professionals for techniques to be used in clinical practice in consultations. These techniques were originally based on modeling Doctors who communicate successfully with patients.[12] Their courses are accredited for PDP and CPD (formerly Post Graduate Education Allowance).[13] NLP techniques are included in the DOC Guidance Counselors handbook.[14]

Accredited Associations

External Links

See also


  1. ("research in complementary therapies papers revisited and continued", p.11) [1]
  2. Schütz, P.. A consumer guide through the multiplicity of NLP certification training. ?.. URL accessed on December 2006.
  3. Platt, G.. NLP - No Longer Plausible?. .. URL accessed on 2001.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lewis Walker (2004) Changing With Nlp: A Casebook of Neuro-linguistic Programming in Medical Practice
  5. David E. Gray (2006) Executive Coaching: Towards a Dynamic Alliance of Psychotherapy and Transformative Learning Processes. Management Learning 2006; 37; 475
    1. REDIRECT Template:Doi
  6. Aaron T. Beck: "The Current State of Cognitive Therapy: A 40 Year Retrospective", Archives of General Psychiatry, 62: 953 - 959, Sep 2005
  7. Treatment Recommendations for Patients with Major Depressive Disorder (Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Major Depressive Disorder, Second Edition). American Psychiatric Association (2000). Retrieved on 2006-07-02.
  8. NLP is used or suggested as an approach by some mental health bodies:
  9. Peter Bluckert (2004) The state of play in corporate coaching: current and future trends. Industrial and Commercial Training. Guilsborough Vol.36(2) p.53
  10. [2]p.28 [3]p 27[4]p.27
  11. [5][6]
  12. [7]
  13. [8]
  14. Guidance Counselor's handbook, section 1.4.5: section 1.4.5 [9] (DOC)
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