Q. What is the history of NLP?
Many of the concepts of NLP are not new. The founders of NLP, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, studied several outstanding therapists who demonstrated excellence in facilitating change with individuals and families, including:
- Milton Eriksson who is famous for his hypnotic language and story telling
- Virginia Satir, known for her ground-breaking work in family therapy
- Fritz Perls, who founded the concept of Gestalt Therapy
Bandler and Grinder worked and studied together in California in the 1970s and they watched and listened to these therapists in action, then developed models and tested them out by adopting the models for themselves. In the process of doing this they discovered powerful strategies for building rapport, influencing change and consolidating those changes in lasting ways.
In the 1980’s Tad James developed Timeline Therapy as an adjunct to NLP processes and this is usually taught as part of NLP practitioner skills.
Q. How is NLP used?
Probably because of the initial work of Bandler and Grinder, early on NLP was associated primarily with therapeutic work. It is now used in many areas including coaching, sales training, leadership development, management, communication, negotiating, cultural awareness, teambuilding and personal development programmes. It is used to train people in sports, medicine, the arts and beyond, with a view to maximising people’s effectiveness. NLP has an infinite array of uses.
An NLP practitioner works with clients one-on-one or in groups to help facilitate change in behaviours, heal emotions, create new strategies and thought patterns, heal phobias, create health and so on. The list is rather endless!
Anyone can learn NLP and people often attend NLP practitioner programmes to learn skills for themselves to use in their work, relationships, spiritual journey and more. See ‘Recommended Resources’ for information about NLP training in New Zealand and Australia.
The CIPD (UK) says that people attending NLP programmes regularly comment on:
- an increased sense of well-being
- success in their ability to influence themselves and others in the way that they want
- improved relationships
- success in their work
- a realisation of their true calling
- greater self-reliance and confidence
NLP is used expansively in sales training, leadership development, management, communication, teambuilding and personal development programmes. Again, the CIPD says it is possible to model any of the following:
- the ability to connect immediately with customers
- the charisma of an inspiring business leader
- the ability to create a compelling vision
- the capacity to maintain motivation towards a goal
- a state of congruence and truth
- an ability to resolve situations of conflict
- the skill of coaching people to achieve their best performance
The NLP work we did before the Coast to Coast … made ALL the difference … It totally turned my thinking around 180 degrees to a resolved and determined attitude… Powerful stuff.”
Steve Gurney, NZ Triathlete Champion, commenting on his experience with NLP Trainer Richard Bolstad
Q. How is NLP the same or different to other kinds of coaching and counselling?
NLP Coaching overlaps both of these, including life coaching, executive coaching and traditional counselling. It has a similar intention to these practices, and yet has a number of different approaches, including:
- a focus on outcomes (goal-focused coaching or solution-focused therapy)
- changes are created at an unconscious level which is why change is so powerful, quick and long lasting, because all change and learning happens at an unconscious level
- the techniques are gentle and easy on the body and emotions because of the structure of the techniques, which are often disassociated (memories are not seen through your own eyes)
Q. Can I learn about NLP by reading a book?
There are some very good books on NLP available (see Recommended Resources for some suggestions) and it really depends on your style of learning as to whether you will be able to pick up some skills and use them in your life. Ultimately, it is best that you go ahead and attend training if you are serious about learning NLP skills, as learning only really occurs when you can actually experience something fully. It also ensures you are supported with feedback and guidance from experienced practitioners who can help you develop skills the right way the first time. Choose a training provider carefully and you will be thrilled with the experience.
Q. What proof is there that it works?
Perhaps the best way to decide if NLP works is to read about or experience how it works in specific situations that interest you. There are thousands of stories now of success with NLP in all areas of
life. Steve Gurney is a local example, who found NLP a great addition to his mental preparations for his Coast to Coast competitions and his success speaks volumes. Certainly experiencing it for yourself is perhaps the most compelling evidence and NLP coaching or training would allow you to collect some!