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What Does an NLP Therapist Do?

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  • Written By: Synthia L. Rose
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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A neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) therapist, also called a neurolinguistic psychotherapist (NLPt), practices a holistic form of psychology that uses oral and subliminal communication along with linguistics to reshape a patient’s psyche and help that patient forge a more fulfilling reality. NLP therapists believe a person’s recurring language patterns overwhelmingly, though unconsciously, affect thoughts, behaviors, and success in the world. While anyone can take neuro-linguistic programming classes and become certified as an NLP practitioner, only a professional counselor with a degree in psychology and a local license can be marketed as an actual NLP therapist.

Degrees are generally not offered in neurolinguistic psychotherapy; instead, psychologists who wish to practice in this area earn psychology degrees and then receive special certification or endorsements in NLP. Psychotherapists who use neurolinguistic therapy and programming to treat patients rely on techniques such as sensory awareness, role-playing, imagery and the mirroring or mimicry of a patient’s values and actions to achieve measurable changes in behavior. Modeling and the use of strategic language patterns to affirm or negotiate with clients are also key components of what an NLP therapist does on a daily basis.

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Clients of an NLP therapist might include people who lack their desired level of professional success, those who are seeking love, people with low self-esteem or depression and those with certain phobias. Since an NLP therapist believes the first step to healing clients is to develop strong trust and rapport, programming techniques are used to emphasize shared experiences and shared beliefs. Once the sense of affinity is established, a patient usually becomes malleable to attempts by the NLP therapist to revise life memories, shape new habits and present new ways for the patient to conquer conflict. NLP therapists also methodically help clients establish future goals through visualization. Shifting perspective is a key duty of NLP therapists who work to reveal to clients how limited perception, the subconscious and restrictive decisions have shaped their overall life condition.

Relationships between clients and NLP therapists can last for weeks, months or years, depending on what specific goals are set by clients and how long it takes to achieve those goals. Acting as a coach and teacher, the NLP therapist teaches a client how to self-program and practice NLP methods at home and independently. Among the common NLP methods therapists teach to their clients are the “Swish” method and the “Walt Disney” method. The Swish method requires that a client identify negative responses and replace them with affirmative language and sounds. In the Walt Disney method, a client inserts himself into the roles of critic, realist and dreamer in order to perceive life situations from all angles.

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