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NLP therapy

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on 14 November 2007
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NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is a therapy that improves communication with others using language patterns. It guides and instructs your brain to fool you into having self-confidence, encourages personal development and teaches you to resolve conflict.

What is NLP?
Neuro-linguistic programming was invented by two Californian academics nearly 30 years ago. It's one of the alternative approaches to day-to-day psychology and is a type of applied psychology like personal development. It equips you with handy tools which you use to improve communication, self-confidence, personal development and conflict management.
NLP is based on the hypothesis that all behaviour can be modelled, learned or changed. NLP aims to reprogramme the brain to give it new potential. As the name suggests, it works on communication ability and involves identifying our behaviour and instinctive reflexes, then replacing them with more positive actions. This improves our capacity to negotiate, learn, train, communicate, evolve, choose, manage, manage oneself and know oneself. NLP is like an instruction manual for the brain.

Who can benefit from it?
NLP is used a lot in business to help staff and management adapt to change. It's used to help employees communicate better, to help sales staff sell better and to help managers direct better. Top-level sportsmen also use NLP. Many education professionals use it to improve their teaching methods and communication with their pupils.
NLP isn't just used in the world of work, though: it can be used as therapy to improve family life and relationships. It can also aid phobia problems or bizarre behaviour. NLP helps people face up to a specific situation or concrete problem, providing a language to cope with it.

How can you train yourself?
You can train yourself in NLP alone with one of the many books available. These are often excellent and include a number of exercises. The only hitch is that it's difficult to improve how you communicate with others on your own! You can also see a trained psychotherapist. Define the objective you want to achieve over a dozen sessions, which is about average. There are also accelerated training courses offered by associations which involve NLP.

How much does it cost?
One session costs from around £35. NLP is not recognised by the British Association of Psychology, and there is no NLP qualification for therapists; it's up to you to judge if a therapist is serious and well qualified to help you.

A few NLP tools
Eye movement In simple terms, we raise our eyes when we think of an image, move them to the right or left when we think of a sound, and lower them when we think about an emotion. You'll see a right-handed person's eyes move to your right when they are talking about something in the past, and to your left when they are imagining, inventing or reconstructing something in the past. These movements can be controlled by actors and politicians...

Communication channels Our relationship with the world depends on our five senses, but we all have a speficic mode of communication that favours one or two of these, with language patterns to match. Someone who favours sight to organise their life and communicate is described as visual, and will express themself using visual vocabulary ("I see, that's clear" etc). Someone who is auditive favours hearing and is the type who will use a rhyme to remember a phone number, and this will be reflected in their language patterns ("I hear you" etc). Kinesthetic types use physical sensations (movements, postures, taste and smell) to organise their lives and access past experiences, and their language patterns are accordingly active ("I'm climbing the walls...it's staggering" etc).

Synchronised movement If you mirror the movements or adopt the same posture as the person you are speaking to, he or she will feel more empathetic and better-disposed towards you.

Association This involves associating an emotion with en external stimulus (hearing, sight, smell, touch or taste). The mere existence of the stimulus is encough to make a whole experience come flooding back.

What you need to know
- NLP is not a replacement for standard therapy where required, but can be used in addition to other types of therapy.
- NLP therapy should not last for more than 6 months. After this time, the NLP therpist should refer the patient to another, more suitable professional.
- The therapeutic value of NLP has never been scientifically proven. According to detractors, NLP is an extreme simplification of many concepts.

by Sarah Horrocks

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