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5

NLP Is NOT Therapy


When I’m introducing Neurolinguistic Programming to new students, one of the first things that I stress is that NLP is not therapy.

Throughout the years, NLP has become primarily associated with therapy due to the fact that Richard Bandler and John Grinder founded the field by modeling outstanding therapists. This close association has created much confusion for the field.

While NLP has produced exquisite techniques and tools to resolve personal problems, the field remains agnostic as to its applications. As a competent practicioner, you can derive applications in various fields, including therapy, counseling, leadership, writing, publishing, advertising and many others.


You’ll find it useful not to box NLP into a area of application. In the book “Whispering In The Wind“, John Grinder and Carmen Bostic StClair create a parallel between how physics relates to engineering and how NLP relates to communication.

Quoting them:

The required distinction is the same as the distinction between physics and engineering, or medical research and clinical practice, or chemistry and pharmacology. Physics, for example, is the study of the patterns that govern the physical phenomena about us. Such studies over centuries have resulted in the coding of certain patterns, principles, laws of nature… An engineer designing a bridge will draw upon this body of tested and verified patterning (especially the computational formulae) to carry out his work. He is said to be applying the principles of physics in order to work how specifically the bridge should be constructed. Physics – the study of the fundamental patterns of physical phenomena – can be applied in multiple instances from bridge building to the design of extraterrestrial vehicles. Such examples are applications of physics, pure and simple.

Comparably, the modeling of geniuses done by Grinder and Bandler created the field of NLP, resulting in a series of models of excellence. These models coded patterns that govern the patterns of interactions among people in certain contexts (change work, hypnosis…). A business consultant addressing a challenge within a client company will draw upon the patterns. She will be said to be applying this body of tested and verified patterns in order to determine how specifically to resolve the challenge.

NLP – the study of the fundamental patterns of excellence in human performance – can be applied (in the context of business practice, for example) to management practice, strategic planning, personnel, recruitment, new product design… Such examples are applications of NLP, pure and simple.

In other words, you’re studying the physics of thought and behavior. How you apply the principles you uncover will be up to you.

So keep your perception of NLP open, so as to tap into the full potential it holds in store for you.

Modeling: The Core Discipline of NLP « Introducing and Mastering NLP - January 4, 2008

[…] wrote in an earlier post how NLP is NOT therapy. Most beginning students mistake NLP to be a form of therapy because so much has been published, […]

nania - February 22, 2012

in my country (indonesia) , NLP is well known as therapy too.. and i have to told them that NLP is not JUST a therapy…

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