Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

NLP is an incredibly powerful discipline that enables people to unblock the structures of human communication and human excellence. In so doing, people can think, communicate and manage themselves, and others, more effectively.

NLP explores the relationships between how we think (neuro), how we communicate (linguistic) and our patterns of behaviour and emotion (programming). By studying and learning from these relationships people can effectively transform the way they traditionally think and act, adopting new, far more successful models of human excellence.


Take, as an example, a person who has a fear of going for a job interview. An NLP practitioner would get this client to recall a time when they did well and had no fear of something. Once they get this memory, that same feeling can be ‘anchored’ by, for example, touching their elbow. This has the effect of ‘sealing the memory there’. The client is then asked to touch their elbow. That will bring back the memory of that time when they felt powerful and in control. The client is then told to take this feeling into the interview with them. They do this by touching their elbow in the same way just before they go into their job interview.

Visual/Kinaesthetic Dissociation

The ‘moving picture’ technique is useful for coming to terms with a past event. It involves dissociating the pictures in your mind of the past event from the feelings you have about the past event.

This is how an NLP practitioner would work with a client.

  • The client would be asked to think back to the unpleasant memory.
  • They would be asked to picture the event as if they were seeing it on a television of cinema screen. In a sense, they are being asked to stay outside the experience.
  • As they watch the memory unfold, they are asked to notice what was happening at the time – for example, what did other people that contributed to the situation do?
  • They asked to notice how it was not possible for them to control every aspect of the situation.
  • The client is asked to notice what they did. What were they trying to achieve?
  • They are then asked what they learned from the experience.
  • In the second phase of the process, they are then asked what they would have liked to have happened instead. Then they are asked to imagine doing just that. They are asked to stay dissociated whilst doing this.
  • They are asked to say how this new imagined scenario resolved differently.
  • The client is then asked to repeat this process.

When working with a client, an NLP practitioner might ask them to change the images on the screen. So if someone is appearing overbearing, for example, the client might be asked to push that person to the back of the scene or to make them smaller and to see if this changes how the client feels about the memory. Often the client will say that doing this means that they no longer fear the person that they considered so overbearing. This can be a useful technique when working with someone who has been bullied.

Time lines

Time lines can be imagined, but it is often easier and more powerful to make the timeline physical by anchoring it in space so that a client can walk from the past to the future and back again. This technique is useful when someone needs to think about a past experience or plan future goals. A problem that a client has at 30 with, for example, public speaking, when walking back over his timeline he may come to a time when he was, say, 14 and recall that he stuttered whilst reading in class and his peer group laughed at him. When this event is acknowledged and cleared the difficulty at 30 should conclude.