What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)?
by Dr. Friedemann Schaub
Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) is a collection of very powerful tools and skills for change and communication that assists people in a wide range of professional areas including: counseling, psychotherapy, education, health, creativity, leadership and parenting.
NLP was found by John Grinder, an expert in linguistics and Richard Bandler, whose background was in mathematics and gestalt therapy, for the purpose of identifying specific models of human excellence. They studied the verbal and behavioral patterns of famous therapists, such as Fritz Perls (the creator of gestalt therapy), Virginia Satir (an internationally renowned family therapist) and Milton Erickson (one of the most widely acknowledged psychiatrists and hypnotherapists). Grinder and Bandler found, that by accurately modeling the patterns and techniques of these therapists they could replicate their results. Based on these findings, they developed specific modeling techniques, which they summarized as Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
Neuro refers to the nervous system, Linguistic to language, and Programming to the repeated patterns and sequences of thought and behavior.
In essence, all of NLP is founded on a three fundamental presuppositions:
The Map is Not the Territory. As human beings, we are not able to know reality. All we perceive has been filtered by the subconscious mind, which results in distortion, deletion and generalization of the information. It is the internal representation of reality that determines how we feel and behave, not reality itself. Therefore, it is generally not reality that limits us or empowers us, but rather our perception of it.
Everything is connected within a complex system. Our bodies, our societies, and our universe form an ecology of complex systems and sub-systems all of which interact with and mutually effect each other. It is not possible to completely isolate any part of the system from the rest of the system. These systems are based on certain 'self-organizing' principles and naturally seek optimal states of balance or homeostasis.
Everyone is doing their best with the resources they have available. We always make the best choices available to us, given our current model of the world and of the situation. In addition to that, NLP also presupposes that we can all find the resources we need inside; we just need to find a way or learn how to access and utilize them.
NLP works with the conscious and the subconscious mind. In contrast to psychotherapy, NLP does not focus on content and why we have a specific problem, but more on process and how do we do what we do - and how can we change it. NLP is a very practical approach and is comprised of a set of models, skills and techniques for thinking and acting effectively in the world. The purpose of NLP is to be able to eliminate unwanted behaviors and increase the ability to choose mental, emotional and physical states of well-being.
NLP offers some of the most powerful techniques to help us get clear about our goals and become highly motivated to achieve them. NLP teaches us to become more aware of our own feelings and emotions and to realize that we actually are in charge of them. We don't have to feel anxious, angry, sad or lonely - we can do something about it, if we choose to. Through NLP we learn how create congruency in our thinking, emotions and actions, and thus establish good rapport with ourselves and consequently with the world around us. It also provides effective tools to assist us to identify and change the patterns and strategies that no longer work for us.
NLP opens our mind to new ways of thinking, being and behaving, thus enhancing our ability to choose how we respond to any given situation.