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NLP Frequently Asked Questions

What is the definition of NLP?

There is no single definition that could adequately encompass the incredibly vast world of Neuro Linguistic Programming and the benefits it produces.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Neuro Linguistic Programming as “a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behaviour and the subjective experiences (especially patterns of thoughts) underlying them; a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour.”

Other definitions include:

•    NLP is an accelerated learning strategy for the detection and utilization of patterns in the world – John Grinder
•    NLP is an attitude and a methodology, which leave behind a trail of techniques – Richard Bandler
•    NLP is a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behaviour and the subjective
•    experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them – Oxford English Dictionary NLP is the study of the structure of subjective experience – Richard Bandler
•    NLP is whatever works – Robert Dilts

For our view on what NLP is – click here

Is all 'NLP' the same?

No. Whilst you will find many similarities within different fields of NLP, they are not all the same, which is a challenge for anyone trying to figure out where to learn NLP or which practitioner to work with.  The quality of NLP that you get is often dependent on a number of factors such as;  which organisation you or your practitioner learnt with, how long was the training, how much time for practice was there and how it was taught. Terms like Certified NLP Practitioner or Certified NLP Master Practitioner are often unreliable indicators of service or quality in their own right since there are no universally agreed standards amongst the various fields/schools of thought.

For example to become a certified NLP Practitioner with the ABNLP (American Board of NLP) requires a minimum of 120 hours of training, but for comparison there are other organisations such as the SNLP that will offer Practitioner certification after a minimum of approx. 50 hours of tuition. When you consider how someone was trained, it might be that they were part of a small group with plenty of interaction with the lead trainer over as much as 18 days and on-going continuous assessment or where they 1 of 1,000 delegates sat in a large conference room. Never be afraid to ask anyone that you are considering working with, to talk to you about his or her experience before you decide they if are right for you.

How can NLP be of use to me?

NLP can be used to change unwanted or limiting beliefs, get rid of fears, phobias, panic attacks, to name but a few.  It has been used by many to enhance performance and can be effective in many areas such as sport, public speaking, confidence, and motivation. In business NLP can be used for team building, stress management, communication skills, presentation skills, succession management, improving sales and more.

Who are the professional Awarding Organisations?

NLP is practiced all over the world. There are many NLP organisations that over the years have set themselves up as awarding bodies, but there are no legally enforceable standards of training or practice, unlike other professions such as accountancy, law and medicine. When looking to engage a practitioner, or undertake training yourself, it’s always useful to review the awarding body standards to ensure you are getting the very best. Below are big 5 Certification Bodies, but there are many others:

•    ABNLP (American Board of NLP)  –
•    ANLP (Association of NLP) –
•    INLPTA (International NLP Trainers Association) –
•    ITANLP (International Trainers Academy of NLP)  –
•    SNLP (Society of NLP) –

Has NLP been scientifically validated?

No, nor does NLP make any claims to be scientific or to be based on studies that compare the average behaviour of one group with the average behaviour of another. NLP is a model that works on individual performance. However there is a vast array of anecdotal evidence that suggests that huge numbers of people have benefited massively from the NLP mind set and techniques, and had some quite remarkable improvements in personal performance.

If you are interested in the science of how the brain works, we look to Neuro Science for this. Amy Brann has just written a great book on the subject; NeuroScience for Coaches, which I recommend as a good introduction.

What do you mean that NLP is content free?

The field of NLP makes the distinction between process and content. NLP is a process (not content) model. Take traditional methods of personal change where for example clients often recall and talk about event in their past that cause them problems (i.e. traditional counselling). NLP on the other hand does not try to resolve the challenge by looking at the detail of what & why. It looks at the process, the behaviour. Most importantly NLP is designed to be content free!

Often clients say that making changes with NLP are significantly less traumatic than traditional methods, does not cause the same levels of anxiety, and are keen to use NLP because there is no need to share the detail of events and so forth with their practitioner. Some clients also say that they didn’t realise just how much fun they could have, getting rid of for example their old phobia!