Gale Neiderworder | NLP & Reiki Practitioner | Clinical Hypnotherapist | 303-919-8876 (C)

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a theory of language, communication and thought together with an associated therapeutic method, which holds that people can improve the way they interact with the world by means of certain principles and techniques concerned with their use of language. People can use NLP’s principles and techniques to represent their world better, learn and communicate better, and ultimately have better, fuller, and richer lives. The title was coined by Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder to represent a theoretical connection between neurological processes ('neuro'), language ('linguistic') and behavioral patterns that have been learned through experience ('programming').

NLP was originally promoted by its founders in the 1970s, Bandler and Grinder as an extraordinarily effective and rapid form of psychological therapy, capable of addressing the full range of problems which psychologists are likely to encounter, such as phobias, depression, habit disorder, psychosomatic illnesses, learning disorders. It also espoused the potential for self-determination through overcoming learnt limitations and emphasized well-being and healthy functioning. Later, it was promoted as a 'science of excellence', derived from the study or “modeling “of how successful or outstanding people in different fields obtain their results. It was claimed that these skills could be learned by anyone to improve their effectiveness both personally and professionally.

NLP originated when Richard Bandler, a student at University of California, Santa Cruz, was transcribing taped therapy sessions of the Gestalt therapist Fritz Perls as a project for the psychiatrist Robert Spitzer. Bandler believed he recognized particular word and sentence structures, which facilitated the acceptance of Perls’ positive suggestions. Bandler took this idea to one of his university lecturers, John Grinder, a linguist, and together they produced what they termed the Meta Model, a model of what they believed to be influential word structures and how they work. They also modeled the therapeutic sessions of the family therapist Virginia Satir. Bandler and Grinder published an account of their work in The Structure of Magic in 1975. The main theme of the book was that it was possible to analyze and codify the therapeutic methods of Satir and Perls. Exceptional therapy, even when it appears “magical”, has a discernible structure, which anyone could learn. Some of the book was based on previous work by Grinder on transformational grammar, the Chomskyan generative syntax that was current at the time. Some considered the importation of transformational grammar to psychotherapy to be Bandler and Grinder's main contribution to the field of psychotherapy. Bandler and Grinder also made use of ideas of Gregory Bateson, who was influenced by Alfred Korzybski, particularly his ideas about human modeling and that “the map is not the territory”.

Impressed by the work with Fritz Perls and Virgina Satir, the British anthropologist Gregory Bateson agreed to write the preface and also introduced Bandler and Grinder to Milton Erickson, who would become the third model for NLP. Erickson, an American psychiatrist and founding member of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis, was well known for his unconventional approach to therapy, for his ability to "utilize" anything about a patient to help them change, including their beliefs, favorite words, cultural background, personal history, or even their neurotic habits, and for treating the unconscious mind as creative, solution-generating, and often positive.