Monkey Puzzle Blog

NLP in the dictionary

What no research! Did someone just ‘make up’ NLP?

If the Wikipedia entry on NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is to be believed, it is all a bunch on mumbo jumbo. If that’s true, why then, have over 150,000 people in the UK been trained in it and report using it with success? Why do people like Pharrell Williams, Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffet sing its praises? Why do a lot of counsellors and psychotherapists secretly use it without labelling it? Why is it so popular in the sports and business world?

NLP is made up of a mix of theories, models and techniques - this makes research on ‘NLP’ itself complex

Other psychologies are based on a core philosophy or methodology, which can be more easily tested in a research environment. NLP is more like a buffet, a collection of models and techniques. This makes is very flexible to use but hard to test, each technique or model would need a research project of it’s own.

Research is core to NLP’s methodology

NLP was created by conducting research on top psychological experts of their day. The originators interviewed and observed in depth the work of Virginia Satir, Milton Erickson and Fritz Perls among others. There is also a huge amount of anthropological influence from the likes of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. This is why there is so much influence of other psychological modalities in NLP, today it could be described as an integrated approach because there is a blend of most other psychological approaches within it. The problem the NLP world has is that the original work wasn’t documented as a formal study. It has been argued the newer approaches like CBT and Positive Psychology evolved from NLP - although I don’t know enough to argue that prospect either way there are certainly many similarities.

Like any approach, it doesn’t work for everyone

If anyone tells you that an approach is universal works for everyone, I advise caution. We are all different and so if you want to learn a psychological approach to help you personally, in your relationship, in business or to improve your own performance do your own research to find out what works for you. There is no substitute for trying something out and most approaches including NLP have ways to sample it and try it out for yourself. NLP in itself has different teaching styles so it’s important to find a trainer that fits with you, some are more free flowing and experimental in their style, some are more scientific and some specialise in a context like sport, business or therapy. 

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