NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming.
"Neuro" relates to the nervous
system, which is the mind and through which are in experience is processed by
way of the 5 senses, which are visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory and
"Linguistic" relates the language
and other non-verbal communication systems trough which our neural network
representations are coded and ordered and given meaning. This includes pictures, sounds and feelings,
taste and smells and the words we use which are the self talk.
"Programming" relates to the ability
to discover and utilize the programs that we run inside ourselves. The things we do inside or heads and also
those others do, so that we can achieve our own specific and desired outcome.
In other words NLP is how you use the language
of the mind to consistently achieve our specific and desired outcomes. NLP is
really the study excellence. How do we
discover excellence wherever it is and then utilize that in such a way that we
can create change in ourselves and others?
Alfred Korzybski, in 1933, wrote a book called
"Science and Sanity" and in it, Korzybski said that "almost all
psychological problems were the result of inability of a person to traverse
He also said that probably sometime in the
future there would be a wholly processed description of a human being that
would actually describe the human being.
That of course is NLP.
Gregory Bateson and Jay Haley had a great
debate about ecology. Ecology is a very important factor to consider whenever
we are doing change work. Fritz Perls was into Gestalt Therapy and he was
probably the guy that was the inspiration along with Bateson for kicking off
this science that became NLP.
Around 1975 Richard Bandler was a student at
Santa Cruz University and he was into computers and Gestalt Therapy. He
happened to be editing a book about Fritz Perls. Richard decided that he could
actually do Gestalt Therapy and so he began to do it and he was actually very
good at it. John Grinder was a Linguistics Professor and was the co-founder of
As Richard began to move forward and use the
things he had learned, he realized that he had a specific gift of modelling.
Being able to actually take what worked that someone was doing and use it and
create something out of it. This is where the notion of NLP being an attitude
and a methodology comes from. It comes from that idea of actually being able to
look and see what is excellent behavior?
How is that excellent behavior produced?
Looking across the person, seeing that excellent behavior and then how
to take that behavior and how do I try that on myself? How do I put it on myself and be able to use
it for myself so that I can then create that good behavior myself. So NLP begins as an attitude and the
methodology that leaves behind a trail of techniques.
Three major people that were modelled were
Milton Erickson as you probably know and Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls. These
people were actually modelled by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the early
days of NLP in terms of how to create magical change in people? What is it that
makes a difference, and how can you make a change, by simply using words? That's a lot of what NLP is about.
Milton Erickson was until his death in 1980
"The World's Foremost Hypnotherapist." In 1954 the American Medical
Association tried to disbar Erickson and take away his medical license, because
he was practicing hypnosis. By 1957 he had convinced the American Medical
Association that hypnosis was legitimate and by 1958 they came out with the
statement "hypnosis was a legitimate form of treatment when
conscientiously applied by a practitioner who had been appropriately trained in
hypnosis." Erickson actually worked and practiced hypnosis regularly from
1920 until 1980 seeing a number of clients per day.
When Richard and John spent time with
Erickson, they discovered that Erickson was producing miraculous change in his
clients by being artfully vague. The opposite they had found to what Virginia
Satir was doing.
Virginia Satir was into Family Therapy.
Virginia was the "Grand Dame of Family Therapy" and was very
well-known. She was like a great magician. People would come to her and she
would just sort of magically straighten things out for them. She would just
have a chat with them and people would walk away with their problems resolved,
feeling much better.
John and Richard actually spent some time
studying Virginia Satir. Virginia had already written several books and Bandler
and Grinder wrote a book with Virginia Satir called "Changing with
Families". Most of all we know as the Meta-Model was already being done by
Virginia Satir as one of our techniques in family therapy. What Virginia did was to get more specific.
E.g. If somebody came to her and said "he hurt me" she would say
"how specifically?" Getting
more specific seemed to help the problem disappear. So Richard and John decided
that the way to cause change with people was to become more specific and out of
Virginia Satir’s work they created something called "Meta-Model,"
which means a model of grammar and relates to the entire linguistic model of
Now, they had finished modelling Virginia and
Erickson and created two models out of their work. They found that Virginia got
results being very specific and created the Meta Model. Milton Erickson got
results through being artfully vague and they created the Milton Model.
Utilizing hypnotic language patterns.
Richard and John wrote a number of books, but
NLP was not really very well known until they began to include the work of
Pavlov and noticing the process of anchoring or conditioned response.
The notion of anchoring in NLP is where we
actually capture a stimulus and apply an anchor at the same time as the person
is in a modified state. This is actually directly from Pavlov’s work in Behavioral
Bandler and Grinder also wrote the book
"Frogs Into Princess" published in 1979. It talks essentially about changing personal
history and also the first time that eye patterns were published. Eye patterns
were also published in the book written by Cybervision in 1979. So, there are actually 2 works on eye
patterns published simultaneously in the same year.
The next book was about "Strategies"
and the name of the book was "NLP Volume I." Robert Dilts was one of
the authors. It's actually
Bandler-Grinder-Dilts-DeLozier and Leslie Cameron-Bandler who wrote the book
called "NLP Volume I." We look at strategies all the time when
working with our clients in NLP. How and in what sequence does a person do what
they do. When needed, we help the client to change a specific strategy that is
not working for them to one that is beneficial for them. An example of this
might be somebody who goes into a shop and just buys whatever the item might be
and then later regrets the purchase. By changing the strategy they run, they
may now have certain criteria before they purchase that may need to be
fulfilled and as such they don’t make all the unnecessary purchases.
Then the book "Reframing" came out
and that mostly comes from Milton Erickson’s work also published around
1982. A very good book to read in my
opinion if you are practicing NLP or hypnosis
actually comes from quite a respectable body of knowledge. It has a background in a number of
intellectual disciplines. NLP according to our model here seems to have drawn
on general semantics, on linguistics, on hypnosis, on Gestalt therapy. It takes into account ecology and family
therapy and metaphors, and so it really becomes a study of what works. It really is a study of how do you produce
There is a lot more about NLP and I invite you
to attend one of our NLP Practitioner or NLP Master Practitioner courses and
learn more about this fascinating field.