How can NLP nourish your soul?
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a system of self-development based on the relationship between mental processes (neurology), the words we use to communicate (linguistics) and habitual patterns of behaviour (programming). Neuro-linguistic programming can be integrated into a program of counselling or coaching, or NLP techniques might be taught during a seminar or workshop.
One of the simplest ways to answer the question, “What is NLP?” is to describe it as “a user’s manual for the brain”. By learning to ‘speak the language’ of the mind, it is suggested that NLP may be a way of modelling exceptional behaviour and changing the habits that may prevent people from achieving their potential. Besides counsellors and coaches, NLP may be practised by mental-health professionals including psychologists and hypnotherapists.
NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the 1970s. Grinder and Bandler examined the language and behaviour patterns of experts in personal development, and hypothesised that by replicating these patterns, other people could also achieve success in their lives.
NLP is a self-regulated modality, represented by professional associations in Australia and worldwide. The three general qualification levels are NLP Practitioner, Master Practitioner, and NLP Trainer; The Neuro Linguistic Programming Association of Australia offers detailed guidelines regarding suitable training standards to attain these qualifications.
Benefits of NLP
Overall, NLP is intended to empower a person to take control of their mental processes, enabling them to navigate life by decision, instead of defaulting to habitual behaviours. Although academic research supporting the benefits of NLP is scarce, the results of a critical review suggest it may be an effective therapy for the treatment of phobias. There is also evidence to suggest it may have significant benefits for stress management in high-pressure nursing environments.
Experiential evidence of NLP’s effectiveness is more abundant, with numerous reports of its benefits for supporting behavioural change. There are also published case studies suggesting NLP may offer beneficial learning outcomes for school students. NLP is consistently reported to improve communication and negotiation skills, and claimed to support the replacement of counterproductive habits with behaviours leading to success.
Successful behaviours may include improved communication with your family or with co-workers, overcoming procrastination to take decisive and meaningful action, and developing resilience to help you navigate the inevitable challenges and difficulties of life.
NLP is said to be beneficial for business people by improving their ability to create and maintain meaningful relationships, as well as reinforce leadership skills. It is also reported to help athletes and coaches utilise mental practices that may lead to exceptional sporting performance.
Neuro-linguistic programming can assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Anxiety and stress
- Emotional issues
- Life crisis
- Weight issues
What to expect from an NLP session
If you are undertaking NLP as part of a counselling session, your practitioner will start by asking you questions that will help them learn about the way you think, and identify potentially limiting mental habits. Your practitioner will explore the sensory processes you use to ‘map out’ your concept of the world, and use these to inform the strategies they will teach you to help you revise your habits.
Your NLP practitioner will support you in becoming consciously aware of how your memories, habits and self-talk shape your experience of life. To build on this knowledge, you will be offered strategies that can enable you to modify the behaviours which are preventing you from achieving your goals. These may include guided visualisations, and exercises that involve you physically moving around a room to change the way your beliefs are encoded within your mind. You may also be taught techniques that can reinforce a positive attitude, enable you to communicate effectively, and help you take decisive action.
Although neuro-linguistic programming may help reduce symptoms of mood disorders such as anxiety, it is not intended as a replacement for conventional psychiatric, psychological or medical treatment. NLP is not associated with significant risks, but if you have any mental health concerns, please consult your medical professional before commencing neuro-linguistic programming. Also speak to your NLP practitioner, who will be happy to address your concerns and explore the option of adapting the session to your individual requirements.