Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a psychotherapy and organizational change approach based on the relationship between successful patterns of behavior and the subjective experiences underlying them. It focuses on interpersonal communication to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication. By focusing on these aspects of human experience, NLP seeks to change emotional and mental behavior. It aims to help people live fuller, better, and richer lives.
The term Neuro-Linguistic Programming emphasizes the connection between neurological process (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”) and behavioral patterns that have been learned through experience (“programming”). These three components can be organized to achieve specific goals in life. Our neurological system is in charge of how our bodies function, language regulates how we interface and communicate with other people and our programming refers to the kinds of models of the world we create. Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a framework for describing and improving this interrelation.
NLP is known as a pragmatic school of thought that addresses many levels involved in being human. It doesn’t focus on just one aspect of human experience, but the interplay between many different aspects. It involves the development of behavioral competence and flexibility. It also focuses on strategic thinking and an understanding of the mental and cognitive processes behind behavior. NLP also provides tools and skills for developing individual excellence. It creates the framework for identifying and applying the behavior and skills of masters in many different disciplines. Even deeper, NLP is about self-discovery and identifying identity and mission. In a nutshell, NLP is not only about competence and excellence, but wisdom and vision.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming is founded on two very fundamental presuppositions, “The map is not the territory” and “life and mind are systemic processes.” First, what human beings experience is never truly reality. All we can know is our perceptions of reality. You only need to think about any time two people who saw the same event describe it differently. My reality is not your reality, so who is to say what true reality is? We each experience and respond to the world through our various sensory representational systems. Therefore, it is not reality that limits or empowers us, but our map of reality. Secondly, everything that happens to as as human beings happens between various systems. Our bodies, our environment, and our societies are all built on a series of complex systems and subsystems that are based on certain self-organizing principles. They cannot be completely isolated from any part of any other system and they naturally seek optimal states of balance.
All the different models and techniques of NLP are based on the combination of these two principles. Instead of trying to find the “right map” of the world (which isn’t even possible) NLP emphasizes helping people create the richest map possible. The most successful people are those that have developed a map of the world that allows for the greatest number of available choices and perspectives.
Despite its popularity, NLP has been mostly ignored by conventional social science. Part of this is due to the lack of professional credibility and a lack of empirical evidence to substantiate its effectiveness. It appears that NLP has had very little effect on academic psychology or mainstream psychotherapy and counseling. However, many private psychotherapists and especially hypnotherapists, have begun to include NLP in their practices. It has become very popular in management training, life coaching, and the self-help industry.
There are various courses and classes that offer NLP certification. Some courses are as long as several months while other workshops are completed in a matter of days or even hours.