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In the early 1970s, a college student and a linguistic lecturer at the University of California created what is considered one of the most powerful therapeutic concepts to date. That concept is Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or as it is often referred to as, NLP. But, what is NLP?

What is NLP?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is the study of the process of human thought. It makes us question what happens when we think and describes the way we combine thought, perception, and action to get the results we want. The theory is, if we learn how to think better, then we'll in turn make better decisions. For this reason, NLP is considered one of the most attractive self-development tools.

So, what is NLP? To better understand the complex term, "Neuro-Linguistic Programming", it helps to break down what each word means. "Neuro" pertains to how we experience the world through our senses and then translate it into thought processes. Our thought process affects everything from our emotions, behaviour, and even physiology.

The term "linguistic" refers to how we communicate what we've experienced, such as the words we use and how we say them. The mind is so phenomenal, as no one communicates the exact same situation in the same way. Often times when we communicate, we delete, distort, and exaggerate our experiences, which is why everyone's perception is so different.

While "programming" probably sounds like a word used in technology, it can also be applied to how we think. Our brain is like a computer, as it codes what we see and what we think to form our attitudes, habits and behaviours.

How Can NLP Help?

To answer the question "what is NLP?", you need to understand how it helps people. Think about those habits you have that you'd like to do away with. Neuro-Linguistic Programming helps us to see and comprehend how we can better our behaviours by becoming conscious of them. We repeat bad behaviours because they've been learned and embedded at the unconscious level. For example, if you're afraid of clowns, it may be because you saw a scary clown movie as a child. As an adult, you may still negatively respond to clowns because it's become an automatic response. The fears and phobias we all have can only be managed when we address them at the unconscious level.

What Conditions Can NLP Treat?

NLP has been used in both coaching and therapeutic practices. Many coaches use NLP because it provides a number of tools and strategies that bring about self-awareness and change. With NLP, the idea is that if one person can do it, then anyone can do it. Therefore, a person who seeks a successful business coach should be able to follow their strategies of excellence and achieve similar results.

Therapists use NLP to better understand how their clients perceive themselves and the effect that has on that individual’s thoughts and behaviour. An NLP therapist will look at their clients’ strengths and use that to assist them in developing new approaches to replace the old ones. NLP has been used to treat:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • ADHD
  • Addition and more

Basic Practices of NLP

NLP uses a variety of approaches to help individuals make positive changes in their life. To answer the question "What is NLP?" and really get an idea of the therapy, you need to consider some of the strategies it uses. Practices include mind techniques like visualisation to change the way we think about fears, phobias, and past events. NLP also considers the extraordinary power in how we question things. The mind is always looking for answers, especially about ourselves. NLP suggests that we learn to change the questions we ask so we can achieve more positive answers. Questions like "what do I need to do more/less of in order to change?" will receive much more constructive answers than "why do I fail at everything?".

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