Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) - Toolshero

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP): this article explains the concept of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) in a practical way. Next to what it is, this article also highlights how does it work in practice and what can you achieve with NLP. After reading, you’ll have a basic understanding of this personal development, psychology and communication philosophy. Enjoy reading!

What is Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)?

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), can be described as, “the approach that is aimed at the connection between neurological processes (Neuro), language (Linguistic) and behavioural patterns that have been acquired through experience (Programming)”.

NLP is a set of tools and techniques used by practitioners to analyze and understand human language and to improve mental health. This powerful and effective method is then used to quickly obtain an understanding of the motives and motivations of our actions. Therefore, NLP is increasingly used in all kinds of occupations and environments. The starting principle is that man must be capable of loving and enjoying life.

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This ability can be affected by an incident. That incident may be significant, but seemingly unimportant, or minor that may have a great impact on our actions, thinking, performing and behaviour. NLP is often used to achieve specific goals in life, such as personal development, communication and lifting personal blockades.

One of the primary aims of NLP is to improve mental health by identifying and modifying negative thought patterns. It is often used in conjunction with cognitive-behavioral therapy to help individuals overcome phobias, anxiety, and depression. Techniques of NLP include visualization, hypnotherapy, and neuro-linguistic programming.

Despite its popularity, there is a lack of empirical evidence to support the effectiveness of NLP. However, proponents argue that the tools and techniques of NLP have been successfully used in a variety of settings, including business, education, and personal development. One of the founders of NLP, Fritz Perls, also developed the Gestalt therapy approach.

Who are the founders of NLP?

The founders of NLP are professor of linguistics John Grinder and computer science undergraduate Richard Bandler.

They studied the difference between excellent and non-excellent behaviour in the 1970s. The purpose of their study was to find a way or method that would help people to get a better, richer and more fulfilled life. They wanted an answer to the question what made therapists such as Virginia Satir, Robert Dilts and Milton Erickson so special. This is why they studied their techniques and results.

One of the most important results of the examinations of Richard Bandler and John Grinder and was that if the effective behavioural patterns of excellent people could be modelled, they could be adopted by other people.

How does Neuro Linguistic Programming work?

Using NLP you work on your senses, thoughts and emotions with the purpose of becoming aware of those influences. It is not about what you remember; it is about how your memory works.

And what the effect is of that memory, incident or remark on your daily routines. NLP teaches you to look at experiences and incidents in a different way.

This is why you will deal with things differently and you will develop a structural approach to this. You will listen and communicate differently and the results will be positive and instantly noticeable.

It does not target problems but solutions. NLP is an interactive process between the practitioner and the client and involves a number of stages including the drawing up of a report, collecting information about a problem and the desired objectives, the whole process is accompanied by the non-verbal responses from the client.

The first step is the action of setting up and maintaining synchronization between the practitioner and the client, which is achieved by stimulation and which leads to verbal and non-verbal responses from the client.

The practitioner pays much time and attention to both the non-verbal and verbal responses that are needed to move from the current situation to the desired situation.

The client is encouraged to consider the consequences of the desired situation in which any positive intentions/ interventions of any problems may present themselves. To help the client, the practitioner uses several means and techniques to change the client’s internal representations and responses. Through mental repetition and integrating the desired changes into the client’s life, the desired situation will be realized as much as possible.

What can you achieve with Neuro Linguistic Programming?

Neuro Linguistic Programming is a collection of techniques, starting points and convictions that are often used to achieve personal growth. Neuro Linguistic Programming is used in training sessions to improve the functioning of managers and employees through seminars, group training courses or in individual client-coach relationships.

Some NLP techniques are suitable for a clearer and more natural communication and therefore they can be established in different disciplines. These vary from management and sales to marketing. But neuro linguistic programming was also trained as an interviewing technique in the criminal investigation training sessions of the Dutch police force.

NLP is also used to improve the cooperation between colleagues or for a better communication with clients. Furthermore, it is used to improve motivation and to increase performance in sports. Neuro Linguistic Programming is for EVERYBODY and can be used in both a professional as in a personal context.


You can use NLP as a manager, advisor or consultant and mainly for effective coaching and management. Just think of matters such as leadership, motivation, conflict management and self management.

Neuro Linguistic Programming in Sales

For salespersons, good contact and communication skills are essential. A successful customer contact is connected with your skills to quickly relate to the customer’s wavelength to subsequently lead your customer to an exciting buying moment they cannot refuse.


In teaching situations you can use Neuro Linguistic Programming to improve the learning achievements of pupils/ students, develop your presentation skills and pupil/ student guidance.


NLP also has several applications in healthcare. If you are prepared to connect with your patients’ perception of the world as a doctor or a nurse, you will be able to build up a confidential relationship much quicker. In British healthcare for example, NLP is used as a method to get a positive contact with the patient in the right manner.

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As a therapist or a counsellor you can use Neuro Linguistic Programming as a powerful addition to your own treatment methods. Neuro Linguistic Programming applications can also be found in psychotherapy.

Neuro Linguistic Programming is also used as an independent therapy or as a supplement to other, existing therapies for instance in overcoming stage fright, simple phobia, self-help, depression or addiction. Additional applications of NLP can be found in meetings, direct employee consultation, in relationships or in personal well-being.

In short, you can apply this in any situation in which you are dealing with communication between yourself and the outside world.

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It’s Your Turn

What do you think? What is your experience with Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more additions? What are your suggestions regarding a good personal development and communication skills course?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Bandler, R., Grinder, J., & Andreas, S. (1982). Neuro-Linguistic Programming™ and the Transformation of Meaning. Real People, Moab.
  2. Dilts, R., Grinder, J., Bandler, R., & DeLozier, J. (1980). Neuro-Linguistic Programming: The Study of the Structure of Subjective Experience. Meta Publications.
  3. Bandler, R., & Grinder, J. (1976). The structure of magic: A book about language and therapy. Science and Behavior Books.

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Original publication date: 09/09/2012 | Last update: 07/31/2023

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Vincent van Vliet
Article by:

Vincent van Vliet

Vincent van Vliet is co-founder and responsible for the content and release management. Together with the team Vincent sets the strategy and manages the content planning, go-to-market, customer experience and corporate development aspects of the company.


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