How NLP Works


Throughout my time working with NLP, I have heard it said now and then that NLP is a this or that thing. Wanting to be open to understanding more about this perspective, I did some research. I was curious to understand why something so powerful as NLP would be described in this way.

I began my quest to learn about both sides of the coin and applied some critical thinking skills coupled with experience as a therapist and NLP master practitioner. Before I go any further, let me be clear. While I have gone through the trainings to become a certified NLP Master Practitioner, I was open to learn and grow myselfby employing my critical thinking skills which is something I sense is a lost skill. Truth be told, there were some things I found in my researching that caught me off guard. When this happened, I went internally to find the answers because I can think critically and find the truth.

Let’s start with the idea that NLP is a pseudo-science. When doing a random search using a very popular search engine, I found several articles making this inference. This finding was something that strikes me as peculiar.

A pseudo-science is a system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific. This infers that NLP has not been backed by scientific data. I find this interesting because when I was taking my Licensed Mental Health Counselor exam for Associate level licensing, NLP was on the test.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is known as a therapeutic, self-help technique that focuses on behavior and language.

NLP is one of the many counseling tools that a therapist can use. I consulted with my supervisor when I was in corporate about the idea of NLP being pseudo-science and I was assured it had enough scientific backing to be used in therapy. Of note, in the corporate world, I could not use a tool that was not back by science. For those who refute the validity of NLP as scientific I have questions because I want to come to a consensus and I believe we can. I believe NLP is largely misunderstood and rejected as a result of lacking critical thinking.

Have you ever read a self-help book? I have, tons of them. If the book was backed by scientific data was not a concern of mine. I was interested in how the self-help could help me navigate life in an improved way. There are so many aspects and tools within NLP. Each client will experience different tools based on their needs which can have a direct impact on testing results.

To stand on the idea that NLP is pseudo-science is to infer that you are against personal growth and development. Could it be possible that something is valuable without having tons of scientific research? I have witnessed hundreds of students learn the tools of NLP and experience drastically improved personal results. I am in favor of using tools like NLP to help people heal some of the deepest layers of wounding.

Another thing I saw in my random online search was the idea that NLP is a cult. Interesting, indeed! I was curious about the etymology the word cult. Upon further research, I learned that cult has a Latin root which means to grow. Fascinating!

When I searched the definition of cult, Merriam-Webster provides this:

1. a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious;

2. Great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work.

I am left to wonder upon this concept. First, couldn’t many things be lumped into this category? I think about people who are in the medical field. Are they not devoted to the work of medicine? I think about people who are philosophical and debate their philosophies here and there. Aren’t they also devoted to the ideasand or people theymay be philosophizing about? For me, the answer is yes to both previousquestions.

Is NLP a cult? That depends on the people group practicing it. I can attest as a trained NLP Practitioner, I have zero affiliation with a cult. I do believe in the powerful tools within NLP that bring about change and healing at the root causes.

At the end of the day, NLP is tool to use to train your brain to think about what you want ECA Level 1 & 2 helped me become more empowered to let go of the stuff that was not serving me, to trust my instincts and to operate from a place of non-judgment. I am a better person for my family and society at large because of the tools I now have at my disposal.

~ Amie, Master Coach

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