NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming is purely a descriptive name that merely explains the type of therapy a Therapist is using to bring about change for a client. Neuro refers to the mental pathways of our 5 senses (hearing, seeing, smelling, feeling and tasting).
Linguistic means that by using specific words and phrases we are mirroring our mental world whilst at the same time the silent gestures of our subconscious postures, gestures, habits and body language reveal at a deeper level our thinking style and our core beliefs.
Programming simply means that because our thoughts, feelings and actions are habitual therefore they can all be reprogrammed to change. All that we need to do is to change our language and by practising a different approach we can bring about a positive change. It sounds easy and if practised religiously then change does happen.
The cornerstone of NLP is that our brains do not how to put things into negative language. This means that in order to understand what we want to do, we must first get rid of our automatic negative thinking that we routinely fall into. In other words when thinking using NLP we must think of what we WANT not what we don’t! So instead of saying …. “Don’t worry” … we rephrase that and say “Be calm”
That way we focus on what we want rather than dwell on what we are fearful of. It is the same as saying ‘we must not think of the pink elephant in the room’. But how can we think of the blue one, when all we are doing is not think of the pink elephant. There is no room for the blue one to enter our thoughts because we are consumed with thinking of the pink one.
The other cornerstone of NLP is that if one person can do something, then that means anyone can do it too! It just takes time to re-program the mind. This is because all ‘People have all the resources they need to change’ they just do not realise nor believe they can change.
Similarly, if what you are doing has always got you bad result that means … ‘Do something different!” There is a saying in NLP … “If you always do, what you have always done, you will always get what you have got…. So do something different.”
So how is NLP different or similar to CBT? CBT is simply Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Or put another way, changing our thinking and feeling so that we focus on what we want to achieve rather than what we are fearful of whilst at the same time, changing our negative unhelpful thinking habits. Sound familiar?
CBT and NLP are actually similar ways of changing our negative unhelpful thinking habits. Put simply, NLP is normally used by Life / Executive Coaches as their preferred method of therapy and CBT is predominantly used by Counsellors and Hypnotherapists.
As an Integrative Counsellor, Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and EMDR Therapist I use an amalgamation of different approaches to help my clients achieve their goals. I rarely use just one approach.
My clients don’t normally ask me, ‘Are you using NLP or CBT, TA, Integrative, Psychodynamic, Humanistic…etc. today?’ All they care about actually is, can I help them with their problems and issues? The answer is…probably yes!