The NLP elephant

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The problem with NLP / neuro-linguistic programming

The problem with NLP or neuro-linguistic programming is that it is considered by many as a fad or a pseudoscience. While at the same time being reviewed by so many others as the best set of techniques and technologies for communication with self and others that have ever been developed. 


As much good press you will read about it out there you will read bad and with that comes doubt and scepticism. But that is good. That is healthy. Part of the problem is that it is so unregulated around the world that practically anyone can read a few books on the matter and claim to be a Master NLP Practitioner. Some of us, though have gone through 5-6 years of rigorous training, learning, testing and understanding. 

Before I got up the courage to go to my first training class in NLP, I had spent the best part of 4 years reading about it. Not just NLP I did read about other things to it wasn’t some weird obsession. I had read so much about it that I had become somewhat fearful of it and what the trainers could possibly do to me or worse get me to do in one of their classes that I had booked myself on and cancelled courses many times before I finally bit the bullet. 

When does the problem of its reputation stem from? I hear you silently ask. No I am not reading your mind, just yet. 

In the late 70’s when this set of tools, technologies and techniques were being developed the scientific world was actually getting very excited about its possibilities. The anecdotal and qualifying properties of the reports of its success were coming through thick and fast, and it looked as though it was the next big thing in psychotherapy. Field tests and controlled lab tests were no doubt the next step in verifying and testing the findings. 

The problem was that its developers didn’t want to take it into the lab and make it a study of academia but instead they wanted to take it out to everyone, take it to the masses, to make some real money off the back of what they had developed and no doubt make a name for themselves. And that is exactly what they did. It made them millionaires so who can blame them. 

But this decision has meant that there has been, since then, very little in quantifiable studies carried out on NLP and its levels of success, or lack there of, for it to be scientifically verified as the behavioural and social science it really is. 

Instead, it has spawned an industry of NLP trainers that are generally unregulated and are often selling themselves as self-help guru’s, coaches and therapists for all your ailments and dreams. 

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