nlp therapist writing in notebook while talking to client
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The 1970s saw the development of a communication and interpersonal skills training model called the Neurolinguistic programming. The 1975 book, “The Structure of Magic”, is well known around the world.

In a nutshell, NLP suggests that changing unhelpful thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and communication patterns can:

  • Help shift your perspective for the better.
  • improve your relationships
  • It is possible to influence others.
  • Help you achieve your goals.
  • boost self-awareness
  • Improve physical and mental well-being.

Practitioners also say NLP can help address mental health conditions like anxiety and Depression. as well as physical symptoms like It is a pain., There are allergies., and vision problems.

A single approach that offers such a wide range of benefits might sound great, and it has received plenty of positive attention and praise.

The approach has received a lot of scrutiny and criticism from mental health professionals because there is no evidence to support its benefits.

Is NLP a type of therapy?

Experts don\’t recognize the term “NLP therapy” as a type of psychotherapy.

Some consider it pseudoscience, at best — and at worst, a fraudulent and ineffective approach that mainly exists to make money.

A therapist trained in the approach might use it in a combined approach to therapy.

Interested in learning more? We will explain the theory and principles, explain the techniques used, and explore what research says about the benefits.

The creators break down the name as follows:

  • Neuro- refers to the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of your neurology.
  • -linguistic refers to the language and communication patterns you use with yourself and others.
  • Programming refers to the impact your emotions, thoughts, and life experiences have on your present life.

The approach can help you improve communication with your unconscious mind and modify your mental “programs”, according to the theory.

It is possible for your mind to get those things for you if you clearly express your needs and desires.

Learning the language of your own mind, then, can help you break unwanted habits, control unwanted emotions, and achieve goals.

The preferred representational system (PRS)

Where do you start learning the language of your own mind?

You can explore your preferred representational system or mode of sensory input first.

Everyone has a personal map of the world that guides their choices and behavior, according to the creators of NLP. You create this map with the input you get.

  • Things you see.
  • Things you hear are auditory.
  • Kinaesthetics are things you feel or sense.
  • olfactory is the smell of things
  • Things you like.

You will likely find yourself using one of these more often than the others. That is your personal property. You can recognize the dominant PRS in two different ways.

The first thing is your language. A tendency to say something.

  • A visual PRS would suggest this looks like it.
  • I feel that would suggest a kinaesthetic PRS.
  • An auditory PRS is suggested by the expression “I hear you” or “I\’m hearing that…”

Eye movements are one way to identify your PRS.

  • Upward movements to either side are called visual.
  • Auditory involves horizontal movements to either side or downward movements to the left.
  • Kinaesthetic involves downward movement.

The goal of the practitioners of ngp is to better understand your personal experiences. This insight can help them find the best techniques for your needs.

Of course, learning your own language isn’t the only aspect of NLP. Understanding how other people perceive the world through their own PRS can increase your awareness of their experiences and improve your communication.

A number of techniques and exercises are used by ntp practitioners.

“The official website doesn’t list specific techniques or clarify how many exist. There are more than 100 techniques, according to various online sources.”

There’s a general lack of knowledge about these techniques, as some experts have pointed out. Not only is there no official list or definition, but there also appears to be little set guidance on how they work. What’s more, many of these exercises closely resemble techniques used in other approaches, such as:

You might come across some techniques in the field of Linguistic Programming.


NLP theory suggests that matching or mirroring another person’s body language, including gestures, eye movements, posture shifts, and tone of voice, can help you:

  • Communication and rapport can be improved.
  • sidestep conflict
  • Become better liked.
  • The outcome of a situation can be influenced.

A discussion with your roommate may have started to approach an argument. They are leaning against the wall with their arms crossed, their tone has become heated.

“You might try to match their posture, pitch, speed, and volume of their voice, since you wouldn’t want to use a heated tone yourself. This helps strengthen your connection and show your understanding.”

Their PRS is another aspect of matching. You could say, “I hear what you\’re saying” if they said, “All I hear from you is…”

Fast phobia cure

The phobia “cure,” in brief, is a visualization exercise where you watch a mental “movie” of your phobia, replaying it:

  • “Instead of full color, it’s in gray.”
  • imagining music that makes you happy.
  • At a faster speed.

It is said that if you replay the movie a few times, you will no longer feel afraid of the object of your fear.


This technique can help you replace an unwanted habit with one you want.

To use this technique to break a habit of sleeping past your alarm, you might:

  • As your alarm goes off, make a mental image of yourself lying in bed, sleeping soundly.
  • “You can create a second mental image of yourself doing what you want. It’s like waking up to your alarm, then getting out of bed.”
  • Shrinking the image of yourself waking up to your alarm is a way to enlarge it.
  • Throwing the image of yourself sleeping past your alarm is a mental act. As it disappears, note how small it gets, how it fades and how long it lasts.
  • You wake up on time back quickly. Imagine it growing in size and color until it feels real.
  • As needed, repeat.


The theory suggests that it is possible to improve your luck.

  • Pay attention to gut feelings and follow those instincts.
  • Expect positive things to happen to you.
  • Taking chances and trying new things will help you find and create your own opportunities.
  • Challenge yourself to learn from the bad experiences. You can transform yourluckiness into a better experience.

Dissolving bad memories

This exercise is meant to help you get rid of unpleasant memories. Here is how it works.

  • Think about the memory you want to get rid of.
  • Take a moment to remember everything you can remember, and note it. The sensory details might include things like colors, light, voices, and other people around you.
  • Begin to clean the sensory details. Dim the colors, mullify the room, and push everything away from the room into the distance.
  • What did you learn from the experience? You will want to keep those things in a drawer, so if it helps, you might put that knowledge in there.
  • Take a deep breath or call up a wind to send the memory away.

It is not possible to completely erase a memory. You could use this technique to push away the memory until it dulls.

Six logical levels

This exercise will help you create change across six different levels of thought and behavior.

An nelly person can offer guidance to help you understand your actions at these levels and work through any places where you tend to get stuck.

If you’d like to make more friends, you might explore the six levels to determine where you could make changes:

  • Environment. When you have free time, you like to stay home or ride your bike to the beach.
  • Behavior. You have a hard time talking with people you don’t know, so you tend to stay quiet in social situations.
  • Capabilities. You always feel uncertain of what you should say to others and consider yourself bad at small talk.
  • Values and beliefs. You believe you should have more friends and find social interactions easier.
  • Identity. You think not having many friends suggests you’re somehow flawed as a person.
  • Life purpose. Strong, close friendships make your life more meaningful.

Changing your environment or behavior might help, so you might consider other levels.

Maybe you explore the (false) notion that your lack of friends means you’re flawed or unlikeable, or challenge the belief that you need a lot of friends.

Once you realize the number of friends you have doesn’t say anything about you as a person, you might feel less driven to make friends simply because you feel you should. As this pressure eases, you might find yourself opening up to new people more comfortably and naturally venturing toward new habits.

Changes at one level often lead to changes at other levels.

Proponents of the approach claim it can improve.

But does it actually work?

There is little support for the benefits of NLP. Many of these anecdotes come from people who have a financial interest in promoting the approach.

After nearly 50 years of research, unbiased experts have yet to find empirical support for the approach.

  • In a 2012 review of 10 experimental studies, researchers determined there wasn’t enough evidence supporting NLP’s benefits to recommend its use for any mental or physical health concern.
  • A 2014 review of NLP’s benefits for treating PTSD, general anxiety disorder, and Depression. found “no clinical evidence” to support NLP as a treatment for these conditions. The review authors also note that other reviews have consistently failed to find any support for NLP as a treatment for anxiety conditions and PTSD.
  • Research from 2018 notes that the only publication supporting the benefits of NLP, a “review” article published in 2010, did not follow the most basic elements of review protocol. What’s more, the publication included articles that hadn’t been peer-reviewed — but it didn’t refer to any actual scientific findings.

Research has alsodebunked NLP practitioners’ claims that eye movements can reveal when someone is lying.

Some limited evidence supports some benefits of NLP.

  • A 2021 study compared the effectiveness of guided imagery with an unnamed NLP behavior technique for relieving It is a pain. and discomfort after open-heart surgery. The 44 people who used the NLP technique reported less It is a pain. after surgery, while the 44 people who used guided imagery reported greater comfort.
  • A 2021 study involving 180 nurses suggests NLP techniques appeared to help promote organizational citizenship behavior among nurses. According to the study authors, these techniques also appear to help promote conscientiousness, job satisfaction, and quality of care.
  • A small 2021 study of 41 nurses and nurse managers suggests that NLP techniques may help promote flexibility, a more positive mood, motivation, and improved planning abilities. Study authors also note that NLP training appears beneficial for boosting conflict resolution and problem-solving skills.

There are many questions about the supposed effectiveness of NLP.

“Anyone can claim to treat just about anything, and that’s the truth. Those claims are not the same as proof.”

To gather support for an approach’s effectiveness, unbiased researchers conduct randomized controlled trials and other scientific studies. When it comes to NLP, this support simply doesn’t exist.

Take the preferred representational system (PRS), for one. This system appears to form the backbone of the approach, but no research supports its existence.

Researchers have also called into question the lack of requirements necessary to become trained as an NLP practitioner or coach. You don’t actually need to have a mental health background, or any credentials whatsoever, to earn an Integrative NLP Practitioner Certification — a training process that only takes 4 days.

It takes several years to become a licensed mental health professional, not to mention hundreds of hours of practical experience.

True change typically requires time and dedicated effort

It is said that NLP works very quickly. Some coaches say you will notice an improvement in just a few sessions.

It’s always wise to use caution with approaches that offer a quick fix for mental health concerns and behavioral changes. Most evidence-backed therapy approaches require several weeks of treatment, at the very least.

Perhaps the most telling critique of NLP: You won’t find it listed with evidence-backed psychological treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure and response prevention (ERP), and interpersonal therapy, among others.

If the techniques seem to be helpful in improving communication, self-image, and emotional well-being, it may be worth giving them a try.

Just know this approach will likely have little benefit for any mental health concerns. If you have symptoms of any mental health condition, it may be more helpful to seek support from a licensed therapist.

A trained therapist can help you improve your emotional health by helping you practice new communication patterns, challenge unwanted thoughts and improve your overall emotional health. They use approaches that are backed by scientific evidence.

Crystal Raypole is a writer for Healthline. Her interests include Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. She is committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. She lives in Washington with her son and cat.