Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

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How can NLP nourish you?

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a system of self-development[1] based on the relationship between mental processes (neurology), the words we use to communicate (linguistics) and habitual patterns of behaviour (programming). Neuro-linguistic programming can be integrated into a program of counselling or coaching, or NLP techniques might be taught during a seminar or workshop. 

One of the simplest ways to answer the question, “What is NLP?” is to describe it as “a user’s manual for the brain”.[2] By learning to ‘speak the language’ of the mind, it is suggested that NLP may be a way of modelling exceptional behaviour[3] and changing the habits that may prevent people from achieving their potential. Besides counsellors and coaches, NLP may be practised by mental-health professionals including psychologists[4] and hypnotherapists.[5]

NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the 1970s.[6] Grinder and Bandler examined the language and behaviour patterns of experts in personal development, and hypothesised that by replicating these patterns, other people could also achieve success[7] in their lives.

NLP is a self-regulated modality, represented by professional associations in Australia and worldwide. The three general qualification levels are NLP Practitioner, Master Practitioner, and NLP Trainer; The Neuro Linguistic Programming Association of Australia offers detailed guidelines regarding suitable training standards[8] to attain these qualifications.

Benefits of NLP

Overall, NLP is intended to empower a person to take control of their mental processes,[9] enabling them to navigate life by decision, instead of defaulting to habitual behaviours. Although academic research supporting the benefits of NLP is scarce, the results of a critical review suggest it may be an effective therapy for the treatment of phobias.[10] There is also evidence to suggest it may have significant benefits for stress management[11] in high-pressure nursing environments.

Experiential evidence of NLP’s effectiveness is more abundant, with numerous reports of its benefits for supporting behavioural change.[12] There are also published case studies suggesting NLP may offer beneficial learning outcomes[13] for school students. NLP is consistently reported to improve communication and negotiation skills,[14] and claimed to support the replacement of counterproductive habits with behaviours leading to success.[15]

Successful behaviours may include improved communication with your family or with co-workers, overcoming procrastination to take decisive and meaningful action, and developing resilience to help you navigate the inevitable challenges and difficulties of life. 

NLP is said to be beneficial for business people[16] by improving their ability to create and maintain meaningful relationships, as well as reinforce leadership skills. It is also reported to help athletes and coaches utilise mental practices that may lead to exceptional sporting performance.[17]

Neuro-linguistic programming may assist in relieving symptoms related to:

ADD/ADHD Anxiety Brain fog and clarity Communication and self-expression Concentration, focus and problem solving Confidence and self-esteem Depression Fears and phobias Indecision Irritability and restlessness Love and Relationships Memory and cognitive function Motivation and procrastination Stress and tension Weight control and obesity Show all

What to expect from an NLP session

If you are undertaking NLP as part of a counselling session, your practitioner will start by asking you questions that will help them learn about the way you think,[18] and identify potentially limiting mental habits. Your practitioner will explore the sensory processes you use to ‘map out’ your concept of the world, and use these to inform the strategies they will teach you to help you revise your habits.

Your NLP practitioner will support you in becoming consciously aware of how your memories, habits and self-talk shape your experience of life. To build on this knowledge, you will be offered strategies that can enable you to modify the behaviours which are preventing you from achieving your goals. These may include guided visualisations,[19] and exercises that involve you physically moving around a room[20] to change the way your beliefs are encoded within your mind. You may also be taught techniques that can reinforce a positive attitude, enable you to communicate effectively,[21] and help you take decisive action.

Although neuro-linguistic programming may help reduce symptoms of mood disorders such as anxiety,[22] it is not intended as a replacement for conventional psychiatric, psychological or medical treatment. NLP is not associated with significant risks,[23] but if you have any mental health concerns, please consult your medical professional before commencing neuro-linguistic programming. Also speak to your NLP practitioner, who will be happy to address your concerns and explore the option of adapting the session to your individual requirements. 


  1. What is NLP? | Worldwide Institutes of Neuro Linguistic Programming
  2. Learn the Language of Your Mind | 
  3. Capturing Expertise with NLP Modelling |
  4. NLP, Psychology and Psychologists |
  5. Online Psychotherapy, Counselling & Hypnotherapy Services | Bayside Psychotherapy Melbourne
  6. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) | 
  7. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) | 
  8. NLP Association of Australia Inc. | NLPAA FAQs
  9. NLP (Neuro Linguistic Program) Courses, Workshops, Coaching and Training | Australian Institute of Self Development
  10. Neuro-linguistic programming and application in treatment of phobias | Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice | ScienceDirect
  11. The effect of neuro-linguistic programming on occupational stress in critical care nurses | Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research 
  12. Can neuro-linguistic programming help you retrain your brain with language? |
  13. Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Learning | 
  14. The benefits of NLP | 
  15. Benefits of NLP | 
  16. The benefits of NLP | The Institute of Applied Psychology
  17. Practical sports psychology techniques to enhance your performance |
  18. What Happens in a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Session? |
  19. Neuro-Linguistic Programming Therapy |
  20. Key Learnings from Delivering NLP Training on Zoom | The Association for Neuro Linguistic Programming
  21. Top 5 NLP Techniques to Improve Your Personal Performance |
  22. Effect of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) on Anxiety: A Systematic Literature Review | KnE Life Sciences
  23. Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) |

Frequently asked questions

NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and it is a system of self-development based on the relationship between mental processes, language, and habitual behavior patterns. It offers tools to understand and influence one's thoughts, language, and behaviors.

NLP can be integrated into counseling or coaching sessions to help individuals understand and change their behavior patterns. Techniques from NLP may be used to model exceptional behavior and address habits hindering personal potential.

NLP is often described as a "user's manual for the brain" because it provides insights into the relationship between neurology, linguistics, and programming. It offers tools and techniques to understand and optimize mental processes for personal growth.

NLP can be practiced by various professionals, including counselors, coaches, psychologists, and hypnotherapists. It provides a framework for understanding and modifying behavior, making it applicable in various fields related to personal development.

NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the 1970s. They examined the language and behavior patterns of personal development experts, aiming to model these patterns for broader success.

NLP is a self-regulated modality with professional associations worldwide. The qualification levels in NLP practice include NLP Practitioner, Master Practitioner, and NLP Trainer. The Neuro Linguistic Programming Association of Australia provides guidelines for achieving these qualifications.
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