What Is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?
Neuro-linguistic programming is an alternative medicine that helps with personal development, psychotherapy, and counseling. Rising in popularity in the US in the 1970s, neuro-linguistic behavioral therapy can help improve mental health conditions and people's quality of life.
This article will cover everything you need to know about neuro-linguistic programming. Whether you want to enter into NLP coaching or become one of the NLP master practitioners, we'll detail the training needed. We'll share the benefits of psychotherapy, cover some neuro-linguistic programming techniques, and explore potential career options.
What is NLP?
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) studies others' thoughts, language, and behavioral patterns to improve your own. The guiding principle of NLP is that no experience is inherently harmful. No matter the outcome of an event, the occasion provides valuable information.
To understand what neuro-linguistic planning is, let's unpack what it means. The term "neuro" refers to the mind. NLP views the brain structurally. Practicers are encouraged to envision mental maps that present how they can reach goals.
"Linguistic" means the communication methods through which our mind and body reveal themselves. By studying NLP, we can reprogram our minds and body. We can use language to access the unconscious mind. Finally, "programming" refers to the ability to take control of your mind. Each behavior and thought we have follows a set program — we run on autopilot.
John Grinder and Richard Bandler coined the term "neuro-linguistic programming." Grinder and Bandler wrote several works on the subject. The most notable, Structure of Magic: A Book about Language of Therapy, is primarily based on Fritz Perls, Milton Erikson, and Virginia Satir.
Mental illness studies have been prominent in research for the last century — from Gestalt therapy to talking therapy. NLP builds on the previous practices to suggest a new way to help people realize their true selves and combat psychological conditions.
How does neuro-linguistic programming work?
Neuro-linguistic programming practices can vary between NLP professionals. However, the basic idea is that individuals follow an internal map or program. NLP aims to access this map, understand the thoughts and motivations behind each aspect, and work towards changing the map.
When we think of communication, we primarily consider a conversion using words. However, external communication only makes up a small proportion of our minds experience in daily life. By understanding your internal communication systems, you can access our map and change our programming.
NLP and psychotherapy sessions teach you how to communicate with your inner mind and body. When you can visualize your internal map, you begin goal setting. What habits, behaviors, or thoughts do you want to change? Well, this might be something like low self-esteem or changing daily practices, and this is where NLP meets therapy.
NLP provides coping skills to deal with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. However, NLP isn't just for those with mental health issues. Everyone can benefit from an NLP therapy session to stop feeling overwhelmed throughout daily life.
You can expect your therapist to understand your way of thinking during a session. Once they outline your map of the world, they use various techniques to encourage change within the session itself.
To begin practicing neuro linguistic psychotherapy, you need to learn the different techniques. The six most common methods include imagery training, eye accessing cues, NLP swish, modeling, mirroring, and incantations.
Not every technique will be suited to each patient. As a neuro-linguistic programming therapist, it is your job to analyze the patient's needs. From there, you can create a treatment plan involving tailored techniques.
You can learn how to implement these therapeutic methods in a training course. Let's quickly run through the standard techniques and how they work.
1. Imagery training
The imagery training technique uses visualization. A reasonably straightforward approach, imagery training is often recommended for beginners.
Essentially, you envision or imagine a highly detailed scene to achieve the desired outcome. Make sure that you have a clear idea of what you want. It could be anything from perfecting a test to learning a skill.
The idea is to visualize every aspect of your success. Your body language should be confident, determined, and comfortable. The higher the level of detail, the more strongly the technique will work. By envisioning your success, you assure yourself that you can act as you imagined.
2. Eye accessing cues
Using eye-accessing cues is a way of understanding how your inner self communicates. Your therapist can establish representational systems by examining eye movements, whether using imagery, audio, or kinesthetic memories.
3. NLP swish
The swish pattern is a slightly more advanced NLP technique. To practice the NLP swish, you need to visualize a detailed image of what you don't want.
For example, if you wish to change your attitude to anxiety, picture yourself at your most stressed. Then, create a less enhanced image of your desired outcome, a relaxed version of you.
The more advanced aspect of the technique is to switch the images. Brighten and solidify the vision of what you want. You might also want to imagine triumphant sounds. In turn, it weakens the image you don't want. Make it colorless.
Repeat this process three to five times. The aim is to change your way of thinking so that your brain amplifies positive outcomes over negatives.
Modeling is a prevalent technique among successful celebrities, entrepreneurs, and athletes. Essentially, this technique involves surrounding yourself with people you admire.
Find a mentor or role model who depicts behaviors you want to imitate — this might be a boss, family member, or friend.
The more role models you have, the better your chances of taking advantage of this technique. As you surround yourself with people, you respect and admire, your body and mind will learn to imitate their behaviors, attitudes, and actions.
A little-known fact is that just 7% of your communication uses words. Body language is the primary indicator of a message, responsible for more than half of conveying information. Mirroring uses body language to help build relationships with others.
To build better relationships, change your body language to reflect others'. We tend to trust what is like us, a nature leftover from evolutionary survival instincts.
By mirroring another's body language and energy, they are more likely to find you trustworthy. You can also adopt NLP vocabulary and tone of voice.
Incantations, or affirmations, are perhaps among the more well-known NLP techniques. To begin, repeat a phrase about what you want.
For example, this can be a direct statement, such as "I want to quit smoking," or a more subtle indication of your goal. Adopt a robust and confident pose or position.
Most NLP techniques base themselves on reaching goals within the sessions themselves. By changing your physiology, you intensify the embodiment of your aspirations. It is an effective way to change your mindset and enhance the power of NLP.
Other types of psychotherapy
Neuro-linguistic programming is just one method of psychotherapy. Often, therapists will have a solid understanding of other approaches to psychotherapy to complement NLP.
While many people might find NLP satisfies their needs, others might need several types of therapies to achieve their desired outcome. Therefore, as an NLP therapist, you must understand the groundwork of other therapies. These include:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
Closely linked to NLP, cognitive therapies cover a broader definition of techniques to change thoughts and behaviors. It aims to reduce symptoms of mental illnesses. Techniques might include exposure therapy, journaling, guided discovery, and role-playing.
Interpersonal therapy psychotherapy aims to change how you interact with other people. You can learn how to modify your behavior and positively interact with people. For example, depression and anxiety stem from isolation, and interpersonal therapy will help build your people skills.
Many individuals don't realize that negative feelings or behaviors stem from past experiences. Sometimes these can be rooted in childhood, forming behavioral patterns that an individual is unaware of. Psychodynamic therapy aims to understand the person's past and address them.
A family therapist creates a safe space for families to strengthen bonds and discuss complicated feelings. Evidence has shown that families that undertake therapy together have improved mental health, particularly adolescents.
Online therapy uses video technology to discuss how people feel, and this is often a suitable method for disabled people or uncomfortable face-to-face communication. Techniques can range from NLP to other psychotherapy methods.
Who can benefit?
There is no limit to who benefits from psychotherapy. However, NLP is beneficial for those with the following conditions.
Anxiety depression or an anxiety disorder.
Personality disorders, such as bipolar disorder.
Fears and phobias.
Substance use disorders.
People seeking psychotherapy to improve their quality of life may do so for an extended period or only engage in brief therapy stints.
Does neuro-linguistic programming work?
The effectiveness of NLP struggles to gain credibility compared to other types of therapy. There is a significant lack of empirical evidence and research to prove NLP's positive changes. Very few studies are medically reviewed.
However, this is not to say that neuro-linguistic programming doesn't work. Many mental health professionals and self-help gurus praise the effectiveness of NLP for behavior change. While it hasn't been established that NLP is promising against physical conditions, it is considered a success against psychological issues.
Are there any risks?
As with any management therapy, there are some limitations and risks. If practiced improperly, treatment can harm patients, particularly those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As a therapy, it is essential to understand the health conditions of those undergoing psychotherapy.
Not everyone has the right frame of mind to embrace therapy. Aside from uncovering or experiencing unwanted effects, sometimes NLP might not work. Therefore, it's crucial to gain your clients' trust to ensure that NLP is helpful to them.
Careers in NLP
There are many ways to embark on a career with NLP training. From working in health care to engaging in NLP research, several career paths are to consider.
Marriage and family therapists.
Mental health professionals usually must be licensed professionals to practice. NLP therapists can gain different levels of licensing, such as becoming a master practitioner or master trainer. To earn your psychologist licensing, you will need to undertake a psychotherapy training course.
How to be a good therapist?
The American Psychological Association defines a good therapist as having interpersonal, organizational, and leadership skills. The Psychological Association recommends that counselors licensing make clients feel comfortable and build trust.
To become a good NLP therapist, join the Association for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It would help if you began learning NLP with an online NLP training course.
At Courses for Success, we offer an NLP Master Practitioner Online Bundle course. The courses teach you programming techniques and practice new skills to start therapy practicing. By thoroughly understanding psychotherapy and being equipped with the tools and techniques needed, you'll be ready to begin your NLP career.
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