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History of NLP


What is NLP?

Neuro linguistic Programming (NLP) is a psychotherapeutic approach that through specific exercise, tools, ideas and counseling encourages people to achieve their dreams and goals. It premise is based on three key concepts surrounding human behavior that are given away in its name:

1. Neuro – the mind: how we think, feel and imagine
2. Linguistic – language: written, unwritten, spoken
3. Programming - manipulation and influence of the mind through the use of language.

Who Originally Developed NLP?

The birth of NLP took place at the University of California in Santa Cruz (USA), nearly forty years ago. It came about when a professor and student got together to study the field of human change using a technique we now refer to as modeling.

John Grinder (1940-) was an Associate Professor of linguistics at the University of California. Richard Bandler (1949-) was a psychology student there. In 1970, they became friends, and through Grinders techniques began to research Bandlers passionate interest in the success and work of:

  • Fritz Perls (the founder of gestalt therapy)
  • Virginia Satir (the founder of Family therapy)
  • Milton H. Erikson (the founder of hypnotherapy).

After much study, they attributed the positive changes in behavior of Perl’s, Satir’s and Erikson’s clients to their specificity in their technique, and to their ambiguous use of language.

How the NLP Technique was Developed

Bandler and Grinder also made other observations and insights of those they knew were the best in their field. Through these insights, they were able to expand NLP in producing specific techniques that they extensively tried and tested for results. Not long after, their team began to multiply with other enthusiastic visionaries in the field, who assisted in the development of the:

  • Practitioner and Practitioner Master trainings, including techniques such as Anchoring, Sensory acuity and calibration, Reframing and Representational systems;
  • Two language models;
  • Very specific Meta Model;
  • Eye patterns, and the way in which they can be used to get a greater understanding of people;
  • Very vague and ambiguous Milton Model;
  • New Behavioral Generator technique;
  • Change Personal History technique;

Once these techniques had been tried, tested and documented, they were taught to the university’s students who with the techniques were able to produce effective results themselves.

NLP the Product

By the early 1980s, the excitement over the development of NLP came second only to controversy surrounding the commercial issues of ownership and distribution. By then, Grinder and Bandler had also parted ways to each pursue their own ideas and interests.

Over the last thirty years hundreds of NLP techniques have been developed that allow individuals to “run their own brain” via step-by-step processes in order to produce desired results. Patterns for lasting, effective changes have been developed for people with:

  • Phobias – The Phobia Cure Pattern
  • Long-term habits – the Swish Pattern
  • Old traumas held in the mind and body – Decision Destroyer pattern
  • Would like to alter the meaning of a specific experience – Reframing Patterns

NLP centers are now also worldwide and NLP concepts are now being used successfully in areas such as psychology, education, business and the arts.


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