What is NLP

The Definitive Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Programming or What is NLP

  • Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is one of the most widely used tools for personal development and business growth. But what exactly is NLP, how does it work and why should you care?
What is NLP Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

NEURO – The nervous system through which experience is received and processed by the five senses

LINGUISTIC – Language and non-verbal communication systems through which neural representations are coded, ordered and given meaning

PROGRAMMING – The ability to organise our communication and neurological systems to achieve specific desired goals and results

Richard Bandler says:


characterised by the sense of curiosity and adventure and a desire to learn the skills to be able to find out what kinds of communication influences somebody and the kinds of things worth knowing; to look at life as a rare and unprecedented opportunity to learn.


based on the overall operational presupposition that all behaviour has a structure . . . and that structure can be modelled, learned, taught, and changed (reprogrammed). The way to know what will be useful and effective is through perceptual skills.


enabling the practitioner to organise information and perceptions in ways that allow them to achieve results that were once inconceivable.

Modern Psychology


NLP is considered to be one of the most useful and accessible tools in modern psychology. It can help with stress management, improving feelings of empathy, and improving communication skills. NLP teaches us how changing the way we perceive the world can lead us to adapt our behaviours to our goals.

Creativity & Resilience

Modelling Excellence

  • NLP is based on modelling people who have succeeded in various situations, and can dramatically improve the chances that you achieve the results you want.
  • Not only will practising NLP techniques increase your creativity and resilience, they will also help you master change. Just as daily workouts in the gym build strength, flexibility and endurance.
Awesome Feature

Brilliant Feature

  • NLP can help you significantly improve your communication and influence skills.
  • NLP can be thought of as a way to help people take chances and break barriers. In that way, it can help us develop a fuller, happier and infinitely more satisfying life.
  • Its popularity was partly due to its versatility in addressing the many diverse issues that people face.

History of Neuro-Linguistic Programming

NLP is the study of human excellence. It arose in the 1970s when John Grinder and Richard Bandler studied some of the world’s most effective communicators. They believed (and still do) that all behaviour has an internal structure, which you can model to make other people behave instinctively like them. They modelled people like Milton Erickson, Virginia Satir and Gregory Bateson, and they noticed that all these people had patterns of communication that were mostly unconscious to themselves but were very effective for their communication. The patterns evolved into NLP – and it’s been described as “the study of human excellence”.

Virginia Satir was an American author and psychologist. She was a pioneer in family therapy and her work has been recognized as the mother of family therapy.

Milton H Erickson MD founded the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis and was a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and the American Psychopathological Association. He is noted for his approach to creative unconsciousness as solution-generating.

Fritz Perls was a German-born psychiatrist. He co-founded Gestalt Therapy with his wife, Laura Perls. A major goal of their therapy is to align the patient’s thoughts and emotions with what they normally feel and think while bringing awareness to those sensations that are not being felt or thought in the present moment.

Gregory Bateson was an English anthropologist and social scientist who is known for his work as a linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician, cyberneticist and systems theorist. His ideas about the nature of communication are especially important to biology, medicine and cognitive science. 

What are the key pillars or principles of NLP?

  1. First, know what you want. In any situation, have a clear outcome of what you want to achieve.
  2. Be aware and alert. Have sufficient sensory awareness of yourself and others to know when you are moving towards or away from your outcome.
  3. Have sufficient flexibility to be able to keep changing your behaviour until you get your outcome.
  4. Take action now.
What is NLP
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How Neuro-Linguistic Programming Works

NLP therapists believe that their clients have the answers to their problems within themselves. It is simply a matter of helping them draw out those answers. NLP also teaches that our unconscious mind is a powerful, creative force that can help us to solve problems. We all know that we have “thoughts and feelings”, but they are often hidden from us and we don’t understand them. NLP believes that we can learn to access these hidden thoughts and feelings, and use them constructively. 

NLP teaches how to develop patterns of thinking and behaving that are effective, efficient and productive. NLP has been successful in helping people who have a difficult time learning or remembering new skills to learn them quickly & easily.

The approach is based on the concept that we all have a set of rules or scripts that govern our decisions and behaviour. These scripts are referred to as cognitive maps. We use these maps when we make decisions and process information in the world around us. Cognitive maps are composed of three parts; a set of beliefs, a set of emotions and a set of behaviours. The purpose of NLP is to encourage the client to change these scripts by working with the individual’s belief system, emotions and behaviour.

NLP also aims to improve the communication between conscious and unconscious mental processes to support achieving higher creativity, problem-solving skills, and learning from mistakes. That’s why NLP seeks to understand the connection between the conscious and unconscious mind.

NLP is influenced by the work of Carl Jung, whose theory of “The Collective Unconscious” explains that in each person there is a collective unconscious that contains all our experience and knowledge. 

The Presuppositions That Make NLP Work i.e. what we believe

  • The map is not the territory; the menu is not the meal. This idea is that what we think about something (our map) is not always the same as what is actually there (our territory).
  • There is a positive intention motivating every behaviour.
  • The resources an individual needs to effect a change are already within them
  • The meaning of the communication is the response you get
  • Successful communicators accept and utilise all communication/behaviour presented to them
  • There is no failure only feedback.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming Research 

The NLP Research and Recognition Project is a not-for-profit organization created to expand the clinical investigation into Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

Frank Bourke, PhD has a doctorate in clinical psychology from the Institute of Psychiatry in London and has been using NLP clinically since the early 1970s.

Bourke’s psychotherapy approach is holistic, incorporating the use of NLP alongside other therapeutic methods.

He has also co-authored two books: ‘How To Use Neuro-Linguistic Programming In Your Therapy Practice‘ (with Sheila Kitzinger) and ‘The Art Of Feeling Good’ (a guide for therapists).

What is Neuro-Linguistic programming used for

NLP has been shown to be effective in treating various psychological issues, such as fears and phobias, anxiety disorders, stress-induced by traumatic events, PTSD, and overall reduced quality of life.

NLP techniques are particularly useful for building skills like public speaking, sales and negotiation, team building and leadership.

Neuro-linguistic programming can help people of any mental health condition or interest in personal growth.

What are Neuro-Linguistic Programming Techniques

Rapport building

This connection can help us to build trust and relationships, which in turn can lead to better outcomes.

Six-step reframing

– is an NLP technique to access the benefits of hypnosis without doing hypnosis. 

NLP swish

– is a quick way of changing habits and behaviours no longer wanted.


– are individual patterns through which we experience the world. 

Eye Accessing Cues

We tend to move our eyes according to which representation system we are accessing. In most cases, this is a reliable indicator of how a person is thinking.


– In NLP, we use reframing to change and challenge the statements that people make about how they experience the world. Behaviour and events are problems only in the sense of the frame in which they are presented. When the frame is changed, they are experienced differently. There are two main ways of using reframing: Meaning and Context 


Meta Model as a result of their modelling of the language patterns of two excellent communicators, Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls. They used Noam Chomsky‘s Transformational Grammar of Language format to categorise the patterns.

Milton Language

– The ‗Milton model‘ refers to the language patterns of the world-famous hypnotherapist Milton Erickson. He used them to enable people to go into trance and to influence them therapeutically whilst they were in a trance state. However, it is also very effective in a normal conversational style.

What is a neurolinguistic programming course?

A neurolinguistic programming course is a type of training that helps people to improve their communication and problem-solving skills. It is based on the theory that the way we think and talk affects our emotions, behaviour, and relationships.

Levels of NLP Training


NLP practitioners

The core NLP techniques for NLP Practitioners to be recognised as NLP practitioner. Working with beliefs and values to create a well-balanced life. This would be the minimum level of training to work as an NLP Practitioner.


NLP Master Practitioner

To become a Master Practitioner, you will need to have certification at the Practitioner level. This certification generally builds on the Practitioner material in more depth, especially with modelling, and language.

Awesome & Outstanding

NLP Train the Trainer

To become a certified NLP Trainer, one must first complete an NLP Trainers Training Course. This would enable you to teach NLP Practitioner and NLP Master Practitioner courses. 

Recommended NLP Books

Frogs Into Princes by Richard Bandler and John Grinder

This book captures the essence of Neuro-Linguistic Programming as described by the founding fathers. Though it can be complex at times, it is easily understandable and should be read by anyone with an interest in the subject.

Trance-formations by Bandler and Grinder

NLP was born out of the hypnosis and trance induction movement in the 1970s. The seminars captured the atmosphere of those early days, with a focus on using techniques to create change.

Reframing by Bandler and Grinder

Context, meaning and 6 step-reframing are covered in this early NLP book.  

Core Transformation: Reaching the Wellspring Within by Connirae Andreas

If you ever feel like your personal or professional life is not going as planned, this book offers a ten-step solution that has the potential to heal the very core of your problems. This is one NLP book that can help change at the deepest level of who you are, on a spiritual level.

Beliefs: Pathways to Health and Well-Being 2nd Edition by Robert Dilts

This book helps us to release the limiting beliefs that may be holding us back from personal growth. By doing so, we can live our lives more freely and productively without the burdens of negative thought patterns.

NLP: The New Technology of Achievement by Steve Andreas and Charles Faulkner

If you want to achieve success in your personal and professional life, then this book is for you. It outlines a 21-day plan that will help you achieve your goals. The key to success is learning how to use NLP, which is a powerful tool.

Next steps

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