Neuro Linguistic Programming is a method and approach I use in Mental Training and Therapeutic Coaching. This is an overview of some of the scientific articles written about the use and techniques of NLP, for the full articles see www.pubmed.gov.
Baumann, S. and P. B. Schumacher (2012). “(De-)accentuation and the process of information status: evidence from event-related brain potentials.” Lang Speech55(Pt 3): 361-381.
The paper reports on a perception experiment in German that investigated the neuro-cognitive processing of information structural concepts and their prosodic marking using event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Experimental conditions controlled the information status (given vs. new) of referring and non-referring target expressions (nouns vs. adjectives) and were elicited via context sentences, which did not – unlike most previous ERP studies in the field–trigger an explicit focus expectation. Target utterances displayed prosodic realizations of the critical words which differed in accent position and accent type. Electrophysiological results showed an effect of information status, maximally distributed over posterior sites, displaying a biphasic N400–Late Positivity pattern for new information. We claim that this pattern reflects increased processing demands associated with new information, with the N400 indicating enhanced costs from linking information with the previous discourse and the Late Positivity indicating the listener’s effort to update his/her discourse model. The prosodic manipulation registered more pronounced effects over anterior regions and revealed an enhanced negativity followed by a Late Positivity for deaccentuation, probably also reflecting costs from discourse linking and updating respectively. The data further lend indirect support for the idea that givenness applies not only to referents but also to non-referential expressions (‘lexical givenness’).
Bigley, J., et al. (2010). “Neurolinguistic programming used to reduce the need for anaesthesia in claustrophobic patients undergoing MRI.” Br J Radiol 83(986): 113-117.
The purpose of this study was to assess the success of neurolinguistic programming in reducing the need for general anaesthesia in claustrophobic patients who require MRI and to consider the financial implications for health providers. This was a prospective study performed in 2006 and 2007 at a teaching hospital in England and comprised 50 adults who had unsuccessful MR examinations because of claustrophobia. The main outcome measures were the ability to tolerate a successful MR examination after neurolinguistic programming, the reduction of median anxiety scores produced by neurolinguistic programming, and models of costs for various imaging pathways. Neurolinguistic programming allowed 38/50 people (76%) to complete the MR examination successfully. Overall, the median anxiety score was significantly reduced following the session of neurolinguistic programming. In conclusion, neurolinguistic programming reduced anxiety and subsequently allowed MRI to be performed without resorting to general anaesthesia in a high proportion of claustrophobic adults. If these results are reproducible, there will be major advantages in terms of patient safety and costs.
Boas, P. (1983). “Neuro linguistic programming – an aid to management.” Aust Health Rev 6(3): 38-40.
This is an article that asks two questions. Do you presently, get what you want with the people who work for you and with you? Are you able to easily understand what they are asking or telling you and do you easily find ways to communicate your intentions and requirements to them? If you answered no to any of the three parts of these two questions then this article will have information of interest to you. Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP as it is usually referred to is without doubt the most powerful communication model, to have emerged for use in management, during the last decade. It takes the elements of everyday behaviour patterns and makes them available to any serious student.
Burke, D. T., et al. (2003). “Eye-movements and ongoing task processing.” Percept Mot Skills 96(3 Pt 2): 1330-1338.
This study tests the relation between eye-movements and thought processing. Subjects were given specific modality tasks (visual, gustatory, kinesthetic) and assessed on whether they responded with distinct eye-movements. Some subjects’ eye-movements reflected ongoing thought processing. Instead of a universal pattern, as suggested by the neurolinguistic programming hypothesis, this study yielded subject-specific idiosyncratic eye-movements across all modalities. Included is a discussion of the neurolinguistic programming hypothesis regarding eye-movements and its implications for the eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing theory.
de Miranda, C. T., et al. (1999). “Impact of the application of neurolinguistic programming to mothers of children enrolled in a day care center of a shantytown.” Sao Paulo Med J 117(2): 63-71.
CONTEXT: Of the members of a family, the mother is without doubt the most important one, which provides justification for including an evaluation of her mental health as one of the variables to be considered as determining factors in each child’s level of development. OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact of the application of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) on child development, home environment and maternal mental health. DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial. SETTING: The study included children enrolled in the municipal day care center of a shantytown in the City of Sao Paulo. PARTICIPANTS: 45 pairs of mothers and respective children between 18 and 36 months of age. MAIN MEASUREMENTS: Children’s development (Bayley scales); home environment variation (HOME); and maternal mental health (SRQ). Comparison between before and after the intervention was made in terms of children’s psychomotor development, home environment and maternal mental health. INTERVENTION: Application of the NLP technique to the experimental group and comparison with a control group. 1–Experimental (EG), consisting of 23 children submitted to intervention by NLP; and 2–Control (CG), with 22 children with no intervention. Length of intervention: 15 sessions of NLP. RESULTS: 37 children remained in the study (EG = 10, CG = 27). Variations in mental development (OR 1.21, IC 95% 0.0 to 23.08) in their home environment (Wilcoxon): p = 0.96 (before) and p = 0.09 (after); in maternal mental health: p = 0.26, 2 df. CONCLUSIONS: There was a trend that indicated positive effects on the home environment from the intervention.
Dooley, K. O. and A. Farmer (1988). “Comparison for aphasic and control subjects of eye movements hypothesized in neurolinguistic programming.” Percept Mot Skills 67(1): 233-234.
Neurolinguistic programming’s hypothesized eye movements were measured independently using videotapes of 10 nonfluent aphasic and 10 control subjects matched for age and sex. Chi-squared analysis indicated that eye-position responses were significantly different for the groups. Although earlier research has not supported the hypothesized eye positions for normal subjects, the present findings support the contention that eye-position responses may differ between neurologically normal and aphasic individuals.
Ducasse, D. and G. Fond (2014). “[Communicating effectively: neuro-linguistic programming in the psychiatric interview].” Soins Psychiatr(291): 36-39.
Neuro-linguistic programming is a set of practices and knowledge which seeks to “model” and then imitate the best communication practices. Applying the key concepts to the care relationship in mental health care helps to improve the quality of the contact, the clarity of the communication and to create an openness to change.
Duch, W., et al. (2008). “Neurolinguistic approach to natural language processing with applications to medical text analysis.” Neural Netw 21(10): 1500-1510.
Understanding written or spoken language presumably involves spreading neural activation in the brain. This process may be approximated by spreading activation in semantic networks, providing enhanced representations that involve concepts not found directly in the text. The approximation of this process is of great practical and theoretical interest. Although activations of neural circuits involved in representation of words rapidly change in time snapshots of these activations spreading through associative networks may be captured in a vector model. Concepts of similar type activate larger clusters of neurons, priming areas in the left and right hemisphere. Analysis of recent brain imaging experiments shows the importance of the right hemisphere non-verbal clusterization. Medical ontologies enable development of a large-scale practical algorithm to re-create pathways of spreading neural activations. First concepts of specific semantic type are identified in the text, and then all related concepts of the same type are added to the text, providing expanded representations. To avoid rapid growth of the extended feature space after each step only the most useful features that increase document clusterization are retained. Short hospital discharge summaries are used to illustrate how this process works on a real, very noisy data. Expanded texts show significantly improved clustering and may be classified with much higher accuracy. Although better approximations to the spreading of neural activations may be devised a practical approach presented in this paper helps to discover pathways used by the brain to process specific concepts, and may be used in large-scale applications.
Duncan, R. C., et al. (1990). “Effect of neurolinguistic programming training on self-actualization as measured by the Personal Orientation Inventory.” Psychol Rep 66(3 Pt 2): 1323-1330.
Neurolinguistic programming training is based on principles that should enable the trainee to be more “present”-oriented, inner-directed, flexible, self-aware, and responsive to others, that is, more self-actualized. This study reports within-person changes on self-actualization measures of the Personal Orientation Inventory following a 24-day residential training in neurolinguistic programming. Significant positive mean changes were found for 18 master practitioners on nine of the 12 scales and for 36 practitioners on 10 of the 12 scales. Findings are consistent with the hypothesis that training increases individual self-actualization scores.
Farmer, A., et al. (1985). “Hypothesized eye movements of neurolinguistic programming: a statistical artifact.” Percept Mot Skills 61(3 Pt 1): 717-718.
Neurolinguistic programming’s hypothesized eye-movements were measured independently from videotapes of 30 subjects, aged 15 to 76 yr., who were asked to recall visual pictures, recorded audio sounds, and textural objects. chi 2 indicated that subjects’ responses were significantly different from those predicted. When chi 2 comparisons were weighted by number of eye positions assigned to each modality (3 visual, 3 auditory, 1 kinesthetic), subjects’ responses did not differ significantly from the expected pattern. These data indicate that the eye-movement hypothesis may represent randomly occurring rather than sensory-modality-related positions.
Field, E. S. (1990). “Neurolinguistic programming as an adjunct to other psychotherapeutic/hypnotherapeutic interventions.” Am J Clin Hypn 32(3): 174-182.
The therapeutic dissociative techniques of “anchoring” and “three-part dissociation,” neurolinguistic programming (NLP) treatment paradigms incorporating the idea of division into ego states, are effective in crisis intervention and as a stimulus for catharsis. Using the anchoring technique in the first session, a patient with severe anxiety, manifested by episodes of hyperactivity, was able to superimpose inner resources upon the situations which led to the episodes. Utilizing three-part dissociation, the patient experienced the hyperactive episodes “for the very last time” and terminated them permanently. Hypnotic exploration and ideomotor signaling were used with a patient presenting with uncomfortable feelings associated with intense anger. After the origin of the anger was determined, a three-part dissociation produced an abreaction and catharsis. Interaction at a cognitive level integrated the feelings and knowledge into personal consciousness.
Gillam, T. (1993). “Representational systems in counselling.” Nurs Stand 8(10): 25-27.
The theories of neuro-linguistic programming are becoming more popular in shaping the approaches of nurses to counselling. The use of one facet of these theories, primary representational systems, is explored here. Examining the case of an imaginary patient, the author shows how the primary representational systems of patients and health workers can create problems if in disharmony, and how a proper understanding can lead to increased empathy and more constructive dialogue.
Graf, U. (1995). “[Neurolinguistic programming in physician-patient communication. Basic principles of the procedure – examples for application in surgery].” Fortschr Med 113(26): 368-371.
Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is a means of improving physician-patient communication that can be learned by any doctor. The present article first describes some of the fundamentals of NLP and then provides examples taken from the field of surgery-in the first instance dealing with the treatment of painful conditions by means of trance or dissociation and, secondly, on the influencing of expectations and the restructuring (reframing) of doctrines in a patient with malignant disease.
Hossack, A. and K. Standidge (1993). “Using an imaginary scrapbook for neurolinguistic programming in the aftermath of a clinical depression: a case history.” Gerontologist 33(2): 265-268.
We employed neurolinguistic programming (NLP) principles to develop a positive self-identity in an elderly male patient in England recovering from clinical depression. This novel technique encouraged recall of intrinsically rewarding past experiences. Each experience was conceptualized in an image and compiled chronologically in an imaginary book, providing continuity to what were chaotic and fragmented recollections during the immediate postdepressive stage. The patient’s anxiety and depression were alleviated and his own functional goals largely realized.
Karunaratne, M. (2010). “Neuro-linguistic programming and application in treatment of phobias.” Complement Ther Clin Pract 16(4): 203-207.
Phobias are a prevalent and often debilitating mental health problem all over the world. This article aims to explore what is known about the use of Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) as a treatment for this condition. Whilst there is abundant experiential evidence from NLP practitioners attesting to the efficacy of this method as a treatment for phobias, experimental research in this area is somewhat limited. This paper reviews evidence available in literature produced in the UK and US and reveals that NLP is a successful treatment for phobias as well as being particularly efficient due to the relatively brief time period it takes to effect an improvement.
Kirenskaya, A. V., et al. (2011). “The relationship between hypnotizability, internal imagery, and efficiency of neurolinguistic programming.” Int J Clin Exp Hypn59(2): 225-241.
Subjective scoring and autonomic variables (heart rate, skin conduction span) were used to verify the reality of inner experience during recollection of emotionally neutral, positive, and negative past events in 19 high (HH) and 12 low (LH) hypnotizable subjects in hypnotic and nonhypnotic experimental sessions. Also, the influence of hypnotizability on the effectiveness of an imagery-based neurolinguistic programming (NLP) technique was evaluated. Results demonstrated that subjective scores of image vividness and emotional intensity were significantly higher in the HH subjects compared to LH in both sessions. The past-events recollection was followed by increased autonomic activity only in the HH subjects. The NLP procedure was followed by decreased negative emotional intensity in both groups, but autonomic activity decline was observed in the HH subjects and not in the LH.
Knapp, H. P. and D. P. Corina (2010). “A human mirror neuron system for language: Perspectives from signed languages of the deaf.” Brain Lang 112(1): 36-43.
Language is proposed to have developed atop the human analog of the macaque mirror neuron system for action perception and production [Arbib M.A. 2005. From monkey-like action recognition to human language: An evolutionary framework for neurolinguistics (with commentaries and author’s response). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28, 105-167; Arbib M.A. (2008). From grasp to language: Embodied concepts and the challenge of abstraction. Journal de Physiologie Paris 102, 4-20]. Signed languages of the deaf are fully-expressive, natural human languages that are perceived visually and produced manually. We suggest that if a unitary mirror neuron system mediates the observation and production of both language and non-linguistic action, three prediction can be made: (1) damage to the human mirror neuron system should non-selectively disrupt both sign language and non-linguistic action processing; (2) within the domain of sign language, a given mirror neuron locus should mediate both perception and production; and (3) the action-based tuning curves of individual mirror neurons should support the highly circumscribed set of motions that form the “vocabulary of action” for signed languages. In this review we evaluate data from the sign language and mirror neuron literatures and find that these predictions are only partially upheld.
Konefal, J. and R. C. Duncan (1998). “Social anxiety and training in neurolinguistic programming.” Psychol Rep 83(3 Pt 1): 1115-1122.
The Liebowitz Social Phobia Scale measured the effect of training on social anxiety responses of 28 adults prior to and following a 21-day residential training, and at 6 mo. follow-up. Significant reductions posttraining and at follow-up were evident in the mean self-reported global scale scores on fear and avoidance behavior in social situations. The item scores, aggregated to reflect the situational domains of formal and informal speaking, being observed by others, and assertion, showed significant and continuing reduction from posttraining through follow-up. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that this training may be associated with reduced responses to social anxiety, but as there was no formal control group, pretest scores from another study were used. Interpretation is limited.
Konefal, J., et al. (1992). “Neurolinguistic programming training, trait anxiety, and locus of control.” Psychol Rep 70(3 Pt 1): 819-832.
Training in the neurolinguistic programming techniques of shifting perceptual position, visual-kinesthetic dissociation, timelines, and change-history, all based on experiential cognitive processing of remembered events, leads to an increased awareness of behavioral contingencies and a more sensitive recognition of environmental cues which could serve to lower trait anxiety and increase the sense of internal control. This study reports on within-person and between-group changes in trait anxiety and locus of control as measured on the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and Wallston, Wallston, and DeVallis’ Multiple Health Locus of Control immediately following a 21-day residential training in neurolinguistic programming. Significant with-in-person decreases in trait-anxiety scores and increases in internal locus of control scores were observed as predicted. Chance and powerful other locus of control scores were unchanged. Significant differences were noted on trait anxiety and locus of control scores between European and U.S. participants, although change scores were similar for the two groups. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that this training may lower trait-anxiety scores and increase internal locus of control scores. A matched control group was not available, and follow-up was unfortunately not possible.
Leybaert, J. and M. D’Hondt (2003). “Neurolinguistic development in deaf children: the effect of early language experience.” Int J Audiol 42 Suppl 1: S34-40.
Recent investigations have indicated a relationship between the development of cerebral lateralization for processing language and the level of development of linguistic skills in hearing children. The research on cerebral lateralization for language processing in deaf persons is compatible with this view. We have argued that the absence of appropriate input during a critical time window creates a risk for deaf children that the initial bias for left-hemisphere specialization will be distorted or disappear. Two experiments were conducted to test this hypothesis The results of these investigations showed that children educated early and intensively with cued speech or with sign language display more evidence of left-hemisphere specialization for the processing of their native language than do those who have been exposed later and less intensively to those languages.
Piovan, C. (2012). “The language disorders in schizophrenia in neurolinguistic and psycholinguistic perspectives.” Riv Psichiatr 47(2): 96-105.
The descriptive psychopathology has classically equated the language with the formal aspects of thought. Recent developments in experimental and clinical research have emphasized the study of the language as a specific communicative ability. Within the framework of cognitive neuropsychology, the development of innovative research models, such as those based on the mentalizing ability, has allowed to formulate new hypotheses on the pathogenetic aspects of schizophrenia. Furthermore, mentalizing ability appears to be a basic skill for the pragmatic dimension of language. The author, after a brief description of the methods of investigation of neurolinguistics and psycholinguistics, presents a review of recent studies obtained by consulting the PubMed and PsycINFO databases. Finally, he focuses on the relationship between research findings and issues related to clinical practice.
Reinhard, J., et al. (2012). “The Effects of Clinical Hypnosis versus Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) before External Cephalic Version (ECV): A Prospective Off-Centre Randomised, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2012: 626740.
Objective. To examine the effects of clinical hypnosis versus NLP intervention on the success rate of ECV procedures in comparison to a control group. Methods. A prospective off-centre randomised trial of a clinical hypnosis intervention against NLP of women with a singleton breech fetus at or after 37(0/7) (259 days) weeks of gestation and normal amniotic fluid index. All 80 participants heard a 20-minute recorded intervention via head phones. Main outcome assessed was success rate of ECV. The intervention groups were compared with a control group with standard medical care alone (n = 122). Results. A total of 42 women, who received a hypnosis intervention prior to ECV, had a 40.5% (n = 17), successful ECV, whereas 38 women, who received NLP, had a 44.7% (n = 17) successful ECV (P > 0.05). The control group had similar patient characteristics compared to the intervention groups (P > 0.05). In the control group (n = 122) 27.3% (n = 33) had a statistically significant lower successful ECV procedure than NLP (P = 0.05) and hypnosis and NLP (P = 0.03). Conclusions. These findings suggest that prior clinical hypnosis and NLP have similar success rates of ECV procedures and are both superior to standard medical care alone.
Sorensen, L. B., et al. (2011). “Weight maintenance through behaviour modification with a cooking course or neurolinguistic programming.” Can J Diet Pract Res 72(4): 181-185.
We compared the effect on weight regain of behaviour modification consisting of either a gourmet cooking course or neurolinguistic programming (NLP) therapy. Fifty-six overweight and obese subjects participated. The first step was a 12-week weight loss program. Participants achieving at least 8% weight loss were randomized to five months of either NLP therapy or a course in gourmet cooking. Follow-up occurred after two and three years. Forty-nine participants lost at least 8% of their initial body weight and were randomized to the next step. The NLP group lost an additional 1.8 kg and the cooking group lost 0.2 kg during the five months of weight maintenance (NS). The dropout rate in the cooking group was 4%, compared with 26% in the NLP group (p=0.04). There was no difference in weight maintenance after two and three years of follow-up. In conclusion, weight loss in overweight and obese participants was maintained equally efficiently with a healthy cooking course or NLP therapy, but the dropout rate was lower during the active cooking treatment.
Steinbach, A. M. (1984). “Neurolinguistic programming: a systematic approach to change.” Can Fam Physician 30: 147-150.
Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) integrates advances in cybernetics, psychophysiology, linguistics, and information services. It has been used in business, education, law, medicine and psychotherapy to alter people’s responses to stimuli, so they are better able to regulate their environment and themselves. There are five steps to an effective NLP interaction. They include 1. establishing rapport; the therapist must match his verbal and non-verbal behaviors to the patient’s, 2. gathering information about the patient’s present problem and goals by noting his verbal patterns and non-verbal responses, 3. considering the impact that achieving the patient’s goals will have on him, his work, family and friends, and retaining any positive aspects of his current situation, 4. helping the patient achieve his goals by using specific techniques to alter his responses to various stimuli, and 5. ensuring the altered responses achieved in therapy are integrated into the patient’s daily life. NLP has been used to help patients with medical problems ranging from purely psychological to complex organic ones.
Sturt, J., et al. (2012). “Neurolinguistic programming: a systematic review of the effects on health outcomes.” Br J Gen Pract 62(604): e757-764.
BACKGROUND: Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) in health care has captured the interest of doctors, healthcare professionals, and managers. AIM: To evaluate the effects of NLP on health-related outcomes. DESIGN AND SETTING: Systematic review of experimental studies. METHOD: The following data sources were searched: MEDLINE, PsycINFO, ASSIA, AMED, CINAHL, Web of Knowledge, CENTRAL, NLP specialist databases, reference lists, review articles, and NLP professional associations, training providers, and research groups. RESULTS: Searches revealed 1459 titles from which 10 experimental studies were included. Five studies were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and five were pre-post studies. Targeted health conditions were anxiety disorders, weight maintenance, morning sickness, substance misuse, and claustrophobia during MRI scanning. NLP interventions were mainly delivered across 4-20 sessions although three were single session. Eighteen outcomes were reported and the RCT sample sizes ranged from 22 to 106. Four RCTs reported no significant between group differences with the fifth finding in favour of the NLP arm (F = 8.114, P<0.001). Three RCTs and five pre-post studies reported within group improvements. Risk of bias across all studies was high or uncertain. CONCLUSION: There is little evidence that NLP interventions improve health-related outcomes. This conclusion reflects the limited quantity and quality of NLP research, rather than robust evidence of no effect. There is currently insufficient evidence to support the allocation of NHS resources to NLP activities outside of research purposes.
Wertheim, E. H., et al. (1986). “Test of the neurolinguistic programming hypothesis that eye-movements relate to processing imagery.” Percept Mot Skills62(2): 523-529.
Bandler and Grinder’s hypothesis that eye-movements reflect sensory processing was examined. 28 volunteers first memorized and then recalled visual, auditory, and kinesthetic stimuli. Changes in eye-positions during recall were videotaped and categorized by two raters into positions hypothesized by Bandler and Grinder’s model to represent visual, auditory, and kinesthetic recall. Planned contrast analyses suggested that visual stimulus items, when recalled, elicited significantly more upward eye-positions and stares than auditory and kinesthetic items. Auditory and kinesthetic items, however, did not elicit more changes in eye-position hypothesized by the model to represent auditory and kinesthetic recall, respectively.
Wiseman, R., et al. (2012). “The eyes don’t have it: lie detection and Neuro-Linguistic Programming.” PLoS One 7(7): e40259.
Proponents of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) claim that certain eye-movements are reliable indicators of lying. According to this notion, a person looking up to their right suggests a lie whereas looking up to their left is indicative of truth telling. Despite widespread belief in this claim, no previous research has examined its validity. In Study 1 the eye movements of participants who were lying or telling the truth were coded, but did not match the NLP patterning. In Study 2 one group of participants were told about the NLP eye-movement hypothesis whilst a second control group were not. Both groups then undertook a lie detection test. No significant differences emerged between the two groups. Study 3 involved coding the eye movements of both liars and truth tellers taking part in high profile press conferences. Once again, no significant differences were discovered. Taken together the results of the three studies fail to support the claims of NLP. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.