What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?

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  • Written By: Eli Kalsky
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a form of psychotherapy that bases itself on the relationship between language, behavior, and thought patterns. It was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who hoped that the system they created would help people live better lives. In particular, they felt that NLP could highlight the relationship between language and thought processes, thereby creating a way for people to achieve specific goals in life. Neuro-linguistic programming was advertised in the 1970s as a more effective type of psychotherapy that would better target the issues often encountered by therapists, such as phobias, learning disorders, habit disorders, depression, and anxiety. It specifically sought to enable individuals to overcome personal limitations by achieving their goals through the recognition of self-limiting behavior.

The neuro-linguistic programming system was based primarily on Noam Chomsky’s system of transformational grammar, which held that language has two levels of representation. As a therapy, NLP does not focus on diagnosis, treatment, and assessment of disorders. Instead, it attempts to assist clients to overcome their own problems. Many therapists use NLP within an adjunct capacity. Also, it is frequently used by people in business communications, management training seminars, sales, and sports to help individuals achieve their personal best.


NLP has been criticized as being unscientific and ethically questionable by its detractors. Such criticism maintains that NLP is pseudo-scientific in its approach due to its high degree of subjectivity. Other criticism claims that some trainers are overly secretive about their techniques, thereby making it difficult to quantify their methods.

There are numerous training opportunities available for people who want to study and then use NLP techniques in their lives. People who want to gain certification in the field of neuro-linguistic programming may do so by taking online courses that will prepare them to use the system in business for sales, management, and teaching. Modeling is one of the essential activities of neuro-linguistic programming and is generally defined as the process through which language is used to extricate the behavioral patterns of the client. NLP modeling is the highest level of skill in the field; many training courses place a strong emphasis on modeling and it is often a key component of many certification classes.


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