Written by Bonnie Gifford
Bonnie Gifford
Hypnotherapy Directory Content Team

Last updated 8th November 2021 | Next update due 7th November 2024

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a technique used to help give you the tools you need to overcome life obstacles. NLP is, in essence, a way of helping you help yourself reach a state of excellence, happiness and peace of mind.

NLP is used to help people overcome a wide variety of issues, ranging from fears and phobias to stage fright, as well as challenging existing perceptions you may have about past mistakes, events, or failures. Many use NLP to help overcome limiting thoughts and beliefs, reduce stress and anxiety levels, as well as to inspire motivation in their life.

What is NLP?

NLP stands for neuro-linguistic programming.

Neuro - all of our experience is gained from the neurological processes that govern our five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and sound.

Linguistic - we make sense of these experiences through a set of filters, including language. The language we use can also affect the way we experience things.

Programming - this is a way of controlling the outcome of something. A person can use NLP to ‘predetermine excellence’ by adjusting the language we use.

To break it down, the science aspect is the process of extracting and learning the techniques. The art aspect is the act of applying the techniques to our own lives. There are four ways NLP techniques are most commonly used. These are:

  • teaching effective communication
  • ensuring continual personal development
  • helping enhance learning
  • to encourage greater enjoyment in life

NLP is used to teach us how changing our perception of the world can lead us to adjust and adapt our behaviours to live the life we want.

Still unsure? Watch as hypnotherapist Debbie Williams explains NLP in 3 minutes.

Where does NLP come from?

A learning model that was first devised by American academics Dr Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the early 70s, they were fascinated by the relationship between language behaviour and excellence. They believed that by analysing the unconscious linguistic techniques used by successful people, they could produce ‘a recipe for excellence’ in which other people could consciously learn to apply said ‘successful techniques’.

Essentially, they believed NLP could help allow anyone to develop the same skills used by exceptional people to overcome problems that may be holding them back (such as fears and phobias), and exceed in other areas of life.

NLP and hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapists aim to induce a relaxed and receptive state (trance) in their clients in order to access the subconscious. Many of the obstacles that prohibit or limit a person’s experiences are deeply embedded in the subconscious, so by accessing the thought processes that usually remain hidden, hypnotherapists can work with clients to change the restrictive thought pattern and make room for positive development.

An NLP practitioner will look at your attitude, your language and how you use it, your understanding of relationships and your ability to build rapport, as well as the physical and emotional states that are best for accomplishing a task. Effective communication and perception of others and ourselves will also be key focuses. All of these will be analysed and examined by the professional so that a strategy for improving understanding, motivation, learning and memory can be formed.

Many hypnotherapists train in NLP to help improve their ability to communicate more effectively with their clients, as well as to help their clients communicate more effectively with themselves.

NLP is the art and science of personal excellence.

- Joseph Connor and John Seymour.

What can NLP help me with? The benefits of NLP

There are many potential benefits to trying NLP. Often regarded as a ‘toolkit for the mind’, NLP is a method used to improve many areas in a person's life and is said to be particularly effective in supporting clients with:

  • anxiety
  • fears and phobias
  • health and well-being
  • relationship problems
  • stress
  • low confidence

NLP focuses on the future. It works to explore an individual’s future possibilities and solutions, rather than looking into your past experiences. NLP encourages individuals to challenge themselves and take chances.

What NLP techniques will my hypnotherapist use?

NLP techniques focus on breaking down our assumptions and associations, in order to open our minds and expand our territories. For example, when faced with a challenge, do you focus on the potential problems or the desired outcome? 

Outcome or problem

In NLP, focusing on potential problems is known as following the ‘blame frame’. This involves analysing all of the negatives in great detail and asking questions such as ‘Why do I have this problem?’ and ‘Who’s fault is it?’ Whereas the people who focus on outcomes, find out what it is they want to achieve, what others want, the resources available and how they can utilise these to reach an outcome everyone desires.

How or why

When asking ‘why’ all we’re really doing is seeking affirmation of a problem that already exists. The ‘how’ question, however, takes us further towards understanding the structure of a problem. For example, ‘Why did this happen?’ is very limited as it searches for blame. ‘How did this happen?’ on the other hand searches for cause and effect.

Feedback or failure

Often if we haven’t reached a goal, we think we’ve failed. Generally, the term ‘failure’ connotes negativity and disappointment. But what if we look at failure instead, as a form of feedback and an opportunity to reflect? Thinking in this way can open up your possibilities and help you to achieve your goal the second, third or fourth time around. Instead of feeling disappointed, analyse the steps you took and identify which ones can be changed. Essentially, this is the common idea of learning from our mistakes.

Possibility or necessity

Instead of considering the necessities in a difficult situation, consider the possibilities. Possibilities open the doors to potential, whereas necessities (thinking about what you have to do) can restrict your way of thinking and only serve to narrow potential.

Curiosity and fascination, or assumption

A big part of NLP is opening the mind to change and possibility. Assuming we know something can limit the expansion of that knowledge. You may know that the world is round, but you should never assume that your knowledge is stationary. Knowledge is transitory and the more we learn, the more that changes. 

Is Time Line Therapy the same as NLP?

Time Line Therapy (TLT) is an approach derived from neuro-linguistic programming that works with your unconscious mind to release negative emotions. These can include anger, fear, sadness, guilt, and anxiety.

Created by an NLP practitioner, TLT is based on the concept that your unconscious mind stores memories in a linear pattern (a timeline) like a mental photo album of your life. Unlike NLP which focuses on the future, TLT looks at what can be learnt from past events, and how we can use what we learn to create a more positive future. 

Search for a therapist

Find a hypnotherapist dealing with Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals