Neuro-Linguistic Psychotherapy (NLPt) involves the skilful and ethical application of a constructivist approach to working with others. We believe that each of us creates our individual picture of the world from our own experiences. What we do, what we believe, what we feel is largely dictated by the picture or model we have created. We constantly modify our models in the light of experience. So, constructivists believe that a person can change their experience by making sense of the world in different ways. They also believe that the way that we live in each moment is always ethical.
Neuro-Linguistic Psychotherapists use tools and techniques developed by the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP first emerged in the early 1970s from the work of John Grinder, a linguistics professor and Richard Bandler, a mathematics and IT research student, at the University of Santa Cruz, California. Drawing on the work of Noam Chomsky, Alfred Korzybski, Gregory Bateson, Fritz Pearls, Virginia Satir and Milton Erickson, they identified a practical approach to self-exploration through connecting specific and direct links between language (linguistic) – verbal and non-verbal – and our internal processing (neurology) and habitual behaviours (programming).
Throughout the process of a Neuro-Linguistic Psychotherapy session, the client is in charge – from initiating to concluding the therapy. Each session, and the overall therapeutic direction, is determined by the ecological outcomes set by the client. The client may have an overall desired outcome that forms the focus for the therapy, and individual outcomes for each session. As these outcomes can shift during the process of therapy, nothing can be assumed until the start of each session.
Indeed our therapists act like explorers, not knowing how each session is going to emerge. Instead, we take as our starting point the belief that the client already has the answers and solutions within their own system – and our job is to reveal them and collaboratively put them to use.
Our skills lie in our ability to enable the client to discover the inner structure that is generating the presenting problem so that the client can then have a clear idea of what restructuring would serve them better. One of the advantages of this approach is that it does not focus on “what” to think but rather “how” to explore and understand why someone thinks, feels and experiences the way they do.
Working with visual, auditory, kinaesthetic (touch, taste, smell) as well as cognitive channels of information, we are able to tap into the client’s deep structure, stored at an unconscious level. We can enable the client to express this information somatically using physiology, symbolically using metaphor and other representations, and cognitively using the wide range of language patterns available to us.
Many of our therapists are also trained in other therapeutic methods – CBT, Hypnotherapy, Transactional Analysis, Solution Focused, EMDR, for example. Clients may find themselves experiencing an integration of approaches.
Our ability to work incisively with language means that our therapists can quickly get to the source of the problem, without dwelling too much on peripheral history. Our highly interactive approach aligns us with the Brief Therapy movement, but not at the expense of rigour. Obviously depending on the presenting issue and, more significantly the desired outcome, the therapy can be short term – up to 10 hours, medium-term or long term. The therapy may be structured or flexible depending on the needs of individual clients.
NLPtCA Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Psychotherapy and Counselling