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Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) began in the United States during the mid-1970s from research into human behaviour. Mathematician Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder developed NLP from psychotherapy techniques while studying at the University of California. Their studies into the effects of NLP owe much to the work of two psychotherapists, Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir, and American hypnotherapist Milton Erickson.
The first NLP book was published by Bandler and Grinder in 1975 but in the 1980s the two founders went their separate ways and the therapy developed into various methods and principles. NLP transformed from an alternative tool of psychotherapy to a form of psychological communication. Today, NLP is practised by many people including psychotherapists, hypnotherapists and medical healthcare professionals.
The term NeuroLinguistic Programming can be broken down into 'Neuro' meaning the mind or nervous system, 'Linguistic' meaning the use of language (both verbal and non-verbal) and 'Programming' meaning to alter a system of actions to achieve a planned result.
Neuro Linguistic Programming works by understanding that a person's behaviour, words and attitudes to life are guided by previous experiences which then affects their actions. By applying certain methods, an NLP practitioner can alter the beliefs associated with the negative aspects of a person's life to create new positive outcomes.
NLP practitioners listen and examine verbal and non-verbal forms of communication. The way in which a person describes and displays their emotional or physical problem helps the NLP practitioner identify the individual's perception of that problem. The NLP practitioner can then help reprogram the mind to perceive the problem in a different way and help overcome it.
By studying ways in which other people do things well, an NLP practitioner can help a patient model themselves to do the same thing to a similar standard. Neuro-Linguistic Programming breaks down the component skills and methods that are required to achieve success and helps people apply them to their life.
Be prepared. It is advisable to choose an NLP practitioner who is a member of, or is accredited by, an association or professional body. This ensures your NLP session is carried out by someone who has received formal training and ongoing development in their field. Members are also bound to a code of ethics and practice. The main NLP organisations are listed at the foot of this article.
On finding an NLP practitioner, ask about their expertise and what methods or techniques they use. It is also advisable to ask for testimonials from previous clients. Before your appointment, think about what you hope to achieve with Neuro-Linguistic Programming and make a list of the problems you hope to overcome.
Some NLP practitioners can consult over the phone or online. Check with your local practitioner for appointment times and location.
NLP will usually take place in a quiet and relaxed environment. NLP can take place on a one-to-one basis or within a group environment. The NLP practitioner will begin with a consultation where you can talk in confidence about the issues you want NLP to help you with.
Many practitioners combine hypnotherapy and hypnosis with NLP but they will consult with you before doing so. NLP, while similar to hypnosis, does not involve you entering into a trance-like state. See our section on hypnotherapy for further information.
Before you session ends, your NLP practitioner will discuss the experience with you and may give advice on any techniques you can use at home. NLP involves self-discovery and many people come away from their session feeling relaxed and positive about what they've achieved and what changes in their life they can expect in the future.
The first session with an NLP practitioner may take longer than usual as they gather information and an understanding of your problem and explain the process involved with NLP. Expect this appointment to last around 90 minutes. A follow-up session can be anywhere up to an hour long but some practitioners offer intensive sessions that last much longer.
The cost of NLP varies depending on a number of factors so check with your local practitioner about these costs. Broadly speaking the cost of a first session ranges from £40 - £100 with subsequent sessions costing between £30 - £70.
The number of sessions required depends on your progress and problem. Four sessions is the average but some people find their problem solved after one or two. Your NLP practitioner will advise on this.
NLP is safe, widely used in medical and professional environments and has a reputation for producing quick results. It has proved successful in helping with a number of conditions and is often used alongside other complementary therapies such as Hypnotherapy, Counselling, Psychotherapy, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Life Coaching etc.
We always advise with any conditions, ailment or health problem you take independent medical advice from your GP before considering a complementrary therapy, alternative medicine or alternative treatment.