Neuro-linguistic programming

The Neuro-Linguistic Programming ( NLP short ) is a collection of communication techniques and methods for changing psychological processes in man that picks among other concepts of client -centered therapy, Gestalt therapy, hypnotherapy and cognitive science and constructivism.

The term " Neuro- Linguistic Programming " is intended to indicate that processes in the brain ( neuro = ) with the help of language ( = linguistically ) based on systematic instructions to be changed ( = programming).

NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 70s within the Human Potential Movement. They defined NLP as "the study of the structure of subjective experience."

The effectiveness of NLP could not be proven scientifically. NLP is therefore largely rejected in academic psychology.

  • 3.1 Objectives
  • 3.2 Procedure 3.2.1 Example: Reframing
  • 3.2.2 Example: Swish
  • 3.2.3 Example: Autonomous eye movements

History of NLP

The Neuro-Linguistic Programming was developed at the University of California at Santa Cruz by the former students of mathematics and later psychologists Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder early 70s. It was conceived as a new method of short -term psychotherapy. They defined NLP as the study of the structure of subjective experience and the inferences therefrom. Grinder was at times an assistant to Gregory Bateson, which is also an influence on the NLP is said. Bateson was initially thrilled by Bandler and Grinder 's first publication in which they presented a model of successful linguistic interventions, which they had gained from the study of Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls. Bateson wrote the foreword to this book and suggested Bandler and Grinder plans to study Milton Erickson and to develop a model of the therapeutic strategies. Later Bateson distanced himself vehemently Grinder and Bandler of. In the years that followed were interested Bandler and Grinder in particular for three therapists in different areas, which were exceptionally successful in their time, and tried to figure out in their approach, what they be so successful was in their therapeutic areas: the Gestalt therapist Fritz Perls, family therapist Virginia Satir and hypnotherapist Milton H. Erickson. Bandler and Grinder analyzing the language and the body language of these three therapists and tried out specific intervention techniques from their procedure that were combined with findings from linguistics to the ground floor of the first NLP school. However, a clearly written theoretical framework lacks the NLP.

First there were reports in two books mid-1970s. Bandler and Grinder came first to the development of the PRS approach (of Preferred Representational System), which assumes that people, individually different, primarily via specific sensory perception to perceive the environment. In the year 1976, from the analysis of language structures of Perls and Satir the meta model of NLP. The meta- model is understood as a language model, in which information about mental models of the communication partner will be collected and evaluated in the NLP sense, the distinction between a surface and a deep structure of human communication. In 1979, from the observation of hypnotherapist Milton Erickson the model. Later investigations came to outstanding artists, managers, vendors, educators, among others added and expanded the NLP methods bundles.

NLP initially united various psychotherapeutic approaches, including from the hypnotherapy, family therapy and Gestalt therapy goal and solution- oriented methods of therapy and other areas of communication (eg, coaching, management techniques ). In contrast, understanding many later representatives NLP only as a model of interpersonal communication and collection of various psychological methods and models to lead to more effective interpersonal communication and influence. Reduce NLP thus on its technology and where its epistemological and methodological foundations ignored. The majority of the studies took place in the early 80s. More recently, at the University of Surrey was a project " NLP and Learning ". Most NLP practitioners and associations, however, consider NLP as neither science nor as a form of psychotherapy, but as a model of human learning and human communication. It now ranks alongside the transactional analysis, psychodrama, theme-centered interaction and some other methods the most widely used methods of communication and behavioral training on the training market.

The tools of NLP have since been developed primarily outside the academic teaching activities and constantly updated.

The early 1980s, NLP was also popular in Europe and it emerged competing training institutions with different degrees. Later, the training content and the duration of training were national associations committed (see below).

Paradigms of NLP

The central premise of NLP is that internal processes and internal perception of man be equated and that the findings be used from a survey of clients to diagnose mental disorders.

This is based on the following assumption:

People perceive the environment with their senses true:

The five channels of communication with VAKOG abbreviated ( " visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory ").

NLP assumes that one or two sensory channels are preferably used. These often are visual and audible or visual and kinesthetic representations. The theory of learning styles based on this classification. In controlled studies, however, have not notice any preferred representational systems.


The imprinting ( learning type ' ) has an impact on how much information in a speech arrives or lost. Sounds (eg words), images, smells, sensations of taste or gestures in humans through the experience linked. So the sound of a particular doorbell can be linked, for example, with memories of a related event, which dates back a long time. The default embossing as a learning type should be complemented by specific learning strategies. Automatically links between emerging thoughts or feelings and deliberately influenced processes are made with the technique of anchors. Thus, the NLP practitioners consciously builds new emotional connotations or uses existing. Not only thoughts can thus be used for the therapeutic work, but also emotions. Be practiced consciously certain movements or gestures with feelings of happiness, then let those feelings activate later with these movements or gestures again. The Eco-Check is a tool for testing for social or systemic compatibility ( compatibility with the environment of the client ). It is checked whether it is certain that the changes with the value system of the client and his or her social environment match. A change should only have desirable consequences. A form of Eco-Check is the Future Pace.

The Future Pace serves as a step into the future ' of the future query on congruence ( agreement ) with his own wishes. He plays a future situation by mentally. It presents itself internally as a new behavior is implemented, for example, a high jump. In this case, the athlete goes through in slow motion the internal images, sounds and feelings that belong to his jump over the bar. He plays the individual steps of the run, including the muscle tension in the head like an inner movie by. The brain thus knows in advance what it has to do later in reality.

A key element of NLP, the NLP presuppositions, which were called by Bandler and Grinder as a basic pattern of behavior at the ' modeling ' of successful personalities. The twelve most important " presuppositions " are:

Theoretical context

NLP as a collection of methods will lay claim to be based on certain scientific theories and assumptions. Among other things:

  • The going back to William James theory of sensory -specific representational systems as basic building blocks of information processing and the subjective experience.
  • The Classical conditioning ( Pavlov ), called in NLP anchors.
  • The model of a fundamental goal orientation of human action ( TOTE, strategies) (Miller, Galanter, Karl Pribram ).
  • The by Noam Chomsky ( transformational grammar ) and its follow-up, and under the influence of the postulates of Alfred Korzybski ( " The map is not the territory " ) by Bandler and Grinder modified models of language ( meta-model ).
  • The social-cognitive learning theory by Albert Bandura with the cognate of Bandler and Grinder Modelling Approach ( expertise in psychology research ).
  • The force resulting from the therapeutic work of Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir and Milton H. Erickson basic assumption of the existence of functionally autonomous personality traits with conscious and unconscious process components.
  • Constructivism as a fundamental world view in NLP that knowledge, insights, relationships and ideas are constructed by man.

NLP integrated these methods in their own statements - building, but without a whole to meet the requirements of a closed scientific theory. This development in the history of NLP took place away from the science.

Due to the multimodal structure ( collection of methods from about 30 NLP formats) a generalized scientific recognition of NLP as a communication aid is hardly possible, although some methods are borrowed from renowned scientific schools. There are NLP practitioners, the NLP "toolbox " as a kind that expands the therapeutic possibilities of a psychological counselor. A scientific analysis of 315 studies from 35 years of empirical NLP research shows, however, that the effectiveness of some of these " tools " is considered refuted.

Another approach will enable the Neuro- Linguistic Psychotherapy ( NLPt ); a younger branch of NLP, which has been recognized since the beginning of 2007 in Austria as a method of psychotherapy. With the NLPt the methodological shortcomings of the general NLP to overcome as a communication practice and meets the expectations of the therapeutic task training with scientifically recognized standards within the extension of conventional behavior therapy be embossed. However, this is not yet done. In Germany NLPt is therefore not recognized as a method of therapy.

NLP formats

NLP is not regarded by its users as a self- teaching system. They have the attitude that it is possible and useful, isolated from different schools to learn from each other and selectively use individual methods to improve communication. The large number of possible approaches to NLP so fundamentally different from other therapeutic approaches.

NLP uses " NLP formats ". For "Format " describes a specific sequence of actions in a meeting or a conversation. The individual interventions of a coach are clearly defined within these formats. Some formats are grouped together with main formats.

All formats in common is that they are oriented to the strengthening of internal resources, placing the emphasis in the work-up of the client's past, with particular attention to changes in working in the critical areas ( interventions, such as History Change, new coinage ). Strengthening resources used to overcome problems emerging fears, blockages or disturbances. In addition to this great value is placed on a humanistic attitude of the counselor in working with clients. The actual work in consulting runs along clearly defined set of action and conversation formulas.

The client can be guided and take a look at this relaxation mental images or feelings with the help of NLP formats in a light trance (without consciousness- elements). It depends on the aim of the intervention and of the available resources of the parties (consultant and client). The main ingredients in the current process are the auto-suggestion, dissociating, anchoring and reframing.

Many NLP formats stem from classical forms of therapy or years of work by so-called modeling (also called benchmark or copy ) emerged. So there are models for positive reinterpretation of perceptions, to goal setting, to anchor, to change of submodalities ( mental patterns in memory of important events ) and work with given or projected operations in the thought world or the real experience of the client as well as various strategy models, which benchmarking or ideas to be learned.

Other formats use of NLP reframing or the conclusion paradoxical perspectives to herauszuentwickeln clients from unpleasant view. Basis of NLP is the assumption that behind every result, an (often unconscious) strategy is, so that a "failure" planning is based. These so-called "meta- programs ", which are believed to accompany the partly unconscious decision-making processes should be changed specifically using mostly behavioral therapy interventions. The client's awareness should be encouraged to develop on the basis of previously visualized or described goals, new strategies. Because these items are, so play in the brain by R. Bandler in thinking, it is now to teach people how they can develop their existing resources new and helpful behaviors.

The term " programming" is not understood within the NLP as manipulative, as all operations are coordinated under interrogation of the ethical and moral values ​​of the client. This happens precisely because NLP trainers are well aware of the fact that the instruments for manipulative changes to the client could own that are not aware of this. Such unconscious manipulations that could be about objective of sales talks or negotiations (see sales psychology ), NLP seeks to avoid by ethical standards. The intention is rather to help clients and clients, compared to programs that normally run unconsciously to emancipate themselves, and thus to increase their quality of life.

Method of NLP


NLP is concerned in the broadest sense with human communication and can be regarded as an applied on continuous development of methods collection. Supporters of this view consider NLP as a plurality of discrete, spaced- deferred instructions (so-called NLP formats) for working with people in change situations. Other NLP practitioners will see fewer the methods and formats in the foreground, but the constructivist view of communication and problem-solving approach of NLP.

NLP does not claim to be scientifically justified.

In many NLP methods will be tried first to facing " a wire " to establish rapport. As a means to the mirrors ( pacing ) is used, which then should allow a run (Leading ).

  • Pacing (Fit, Call, "mirroring" ) reflects the communication partners and is based on the assumption that people who get on well with each other to align ( among others in tone, volume, rate of speech, posture, distance, directness of occurrence). However, it could not be confirmed that it is advantageous if an adviser uses the same system as the client. In addition, it has been shown that the conscious imitation of body language and speech can lead to negative reactions.
  • Leading ( Run ), however, opens up new body language or tonal signals to take the lead in conversation. This must not happen at the same moment as the opponent, but can also take place at different times and should take turns in conversation with pacing. Leading can be a manipulative objectives have ( for example, in sales training ), or pursue the goal of the client to perform in an advisory or therapeutic setting to a different way of dealing with his problems.


NLP takes lay claim to comprehensively provide usable tools for a variety of problems. However, the actual procedure is not standardized, because NLP does not own theory available. Depending on the particular external circumstances (setting ) in which NLP is used, communication strategies, suggestion techniques, motivation techniques, or the so-called NLP formats are used or taught.

As a basic assumption of the opinion that there is a so-called "subjective perception of truth " is. On the basis of body image, the pictorial thoughts and inner linguistic expression of a human mental images arise, so-called internal maps. After the NLP considers the " subjective perception of truth " an expression of inner models and helps a person to orient themselves socially.

Starting point for an NLP application is the inner map of a client. The client is aware of the NLP consultant for their own perception of the problem ( in this map). With the help of NLP formats this problem perception to be changed at clients and new behavioral strategies are developed. The specific NLP means of communication, pacing and leading, uses the NLP consultant to guide the client through the steps of NLP formats.

Typically, the client is instructed to make the contents of its internal images consciously. These images are, inter alia, differentiated according to the type of sense perception (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch ). These various senses are called " sensory modalities ", the subdivision thereof is referred to as submodality. The client should be able to change the emotional content of his inner images targeted by the change of submodalities. In this case, the client must come to a self-determined solution. The consultant attempted by the application of appropriate formats for NLP to provide the right framework.

Example: Reframing

Under framing ( German: "frame" ) is the representation of a fact understood. The different representations (eg, positive or negative) of the same facts gives rise to various interpretations. As Reframing the reinterpretation of a matter is referred. A well-known example is the half -filled glass of water - it can be used as " half empty " or " half full" are considered. In a situation of fear reframing can be used to avert attention from the angst -laden presentation and to emphasize the positive aspects of the situation of fear. For example, reframing a fear of being laughed loud: " When people laugh, they are in a good mood. ". In NLP problems is often given an " other frame " to take a different perspective and to achieve an emotional reassessment. While a new approach, of course, extends the perception of a situation, is at least doubtful whether a purely verbal reformulation can cause an emotional reassessment.

Example: Swish

A typical NLP format. " Swish " is a word and says something like " hiss ". This is intended to associate a rapid movement, alluding to the rapid exchange of two internal images. The client is instructed to imagine a picture in a problematic situation. He is conscious experience The resulting feelings. After that, the client must make a mental picture of a desired situation. This image he should compress to a point. This point is then to be inserted into the image of the problematic situation. As a final step - with an onomatopoeic " Swischhhh " - the compressed positive image expanded so that the first image is covered. The purpose of this procedure is explained by NLP, that complex emotional states as mental images represent - the change of these images will result in a change of emotions. The effectiveness of this assumption and the procedure could not be confirmed scientifically.

Example: Independent eye movements

According to the understanding of NLP from the eye movements conclusions about the inner workings of a human being can be drawn. These eye movements are - according to NLP - not controllable ( = autonomous) eye movements. NLP distinguishes for example between acoustic or visual images, whether or thoughts or memories prevail. Scientific studies have refuted the validity of this approach.


The NLP trainings are regulated nationally and internationally in different ways. However, there have been national and international associations and federations established have adopted the training guidelines. The minimum duration, the minimum content, the testing criteria and the qualifications of the trainers will be described. The association members are obliged to abide by these curricula and only then may use the corresponding seal. It is customary to mutual recognition of training, sometimes, however, subject to conditions.

Only a few levels of training have the same name in the various associations:

  • NLP Practitioner
  • NLP Master, also called NLP Master Practitioner
  • NLP coach, DVNLP
  • NLP Trainer

Some organizations distinguish between coach ( completed coach training) and Master Trainer (approval to perform NLP trainings ) or between coach ( completed coach training) and Master Trainer ( very experienced, competent trainer ).

In March 2005, a Practitioner training with curriculum by means of Integrated Learning was adopted by the INLPTA (e-learning at home on a PC combined with classroom training ).

In Germany, the NLP practitioners are organized in DVNLP, in Switzerland in SWISS- NLP ( Swiss Association for Neuro- Linguistic Programming), in Austria in ÖDV - NLP ( Austrian Umbrella Organization for Neuro- Linguistic Programming). In addition, in German-speaking exist regional NLP associations and free associations of NLP trainers and NLP institutions such as the members of the associations also connects a common concern.

NLP is in Austria a nationally recognized methodology within the vocational training for life and social consultants. In addition, the Neuro Linguistic Psychotherapy - this uses the methods of NLP - officially recognized in Austria as a method of psychotherapy.

At European level, there is the EANLPt with psychotherapeutic training or the MCTA with a focus on training and coaching. The associations should, inter alia, serve the quality of NLP trainings.


Critics call NLP as a pseudoscience or as a New Age form of psychotherapy. The aggressive marketing of NLP also displacing the scientifically-based methods of healing and lead to the fact that people resort to methods whose effectiveness is unproven and in some cases even cause more harm than help.

  • Critics of NLP that numerous providers NLP combined with esoteric teachings, which leads to mixing. For those seeking advice, it is hardly possible to distinguish between NLP techniques and other pseudo-scientific doctrines (esotericism and / or ideology elements); whose boundaries are blurred. The psychologist and science writer Colin Goldner criticized in this context, the hybrid identity of the NLP scene ever was of " brilliance " and " genius " is mentioned.
  • Progress and findings of modern basic psychological research, and especially neuropsychology were not included in the NLP.
  • NLP does not play a role in academic teaching. It will only serve as an example for a pseudo-science.
  • Even the few studies on the efficacy of NLP and some areas of NLP that are led by supporters of the NLP, have predominantly negative results. In the few studies with a positive outcome is criticized that most of these studies do not meet the minimum requirements for proof of efficacy.
  • Criteria, as they are commonly found in evaluation studies ( controlledness, randomization, manualisation, rudimentary blinding, etc.), are rarely met. Overall, consists of both proof of the effectiveness of NLP as a whole as well as the detection of individual NLP techniques, if these were not simply taken over from other processes. After Christopher Sharpley also a correlation between the quality of the trials and the probability of a positive for NLP result ( an NLP poorer the quality, the more likely affirmative result ) can be established, the same is true for studies that are not published in scientific journals.

For example, the " eye movement hypothesis " has been widely scientifically tested; postulated by NLP contexts could not be detected.

The treatment of dyslexia with NLP is considered ineffective. For dyscalculia is discouraged from using NLP as well.

The term NLP has been criticized by psychologist several times as a pseudo-scientific. Roderique -Davies writes the word, neuro ' in NLP was fraudulent, because NLP offering no explanations at the neuronal level and therefore could be argued to be erroneously use nourishing the idea of scientific credibility.

Witkowski thinks alike, at the neuronal level NLP offers no explanation and have no resemblance to linguistics or programming. A similar argument is the experimental psychologist Michael Corballis: The title of NLP is a fake and should give the impression of scientific respectability. The ' linguistic ' component of the name is misleading, as is the reference to Noam Chomsky's transformational grammar.

The psychology professor Helmut Lukesch fears that methods of NLP have kept despite its esoteric character and a lack of scientific foundation already to a large extent its way into German schools, where they are practiced uncritically. The Bavarian State Ministry of Education and Culture, Science and Art engages Lukeschs on fears and distances itself from NLP.