About neuro linguistic programming (NLP)

Neuro linguistic programming – what a horrible term! It shows where it came from – Westcoast America. But put aside the negative reaction. What is NLP? It’s a systematic way of noticing how people communicate. It’s a way of attending to all the various indications people give of how they understand the world, and their place in it. Some of these cues are neurologically-based. Others are linguistic, i.e. based on the minutiae of the language someone uses: hence the term ‘Neuro-Linguistic’.

Because life is so stimulus-rich, we all make simplified mental representations of what seem to us to be the key elements of our own personal experience – in other words, we make ‘models of the world’. Having built up a ‘good enough for the moment’ model of our world, we then live in accordance with it. We interpret new information in such a way as to make it fit with our pre-programmed model. If there are shortcomings in our internalised model – if we have over-simplified or misrepresented our past learning experience – we run into problems dealing with new situations. New truths won’t fit with old models.

NLP aims:

  1. To learn to recognise people’s internal ‘programming’ from the neurological and linguistic cues they give out
  2. In particular to learn to spot when maladaptive modelling is going on, i.e. producing distress or difficulties for the individual
  3. Therapeutically to loosen rigidities, correct misperceptions and challenge false assumptions
  4. To offer specific therapeutic techniques for up-dating maladaptive responses – ‘new models for old’
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