Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) as anon-going field of inquiry and development began in 1972 with a collaboration between John Grinder, an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Richard Bandler, a psychology student at the university. They began by “modeling” three of the most well-known therapist at the time: Fritz Perls, father of Gestalt Therapy; Virginia Satir, family therapist extraordinaire; and Milton Erickson, world famous hypnotherapist.
Modeling is simply studying an exemplar of a talent, capability, or gift in great enough detail that the modeler can break down the inner and outer elements into teachable chunks so that others can learn to express that talent or ability. This “root” of NLP continues to produce new growth and fruit because there are always new exemplars of excellence to be modeled.
The second distinguishing focus of NLP is its focus on subjective experience: what we are doing on the “inside” that has a huge impact on what we are able to do in the outside world. We all live within and out of our own personally constructed map or model of the world. It is through this uniquely created inner perceptual world that we relate to ourselves and the outer world. Many of the change patterns in NLP involve making changes in this perceptual world. Because for most of us our inner perceptual world is unconscious the change process usually first means becoming aware of something we are usually not aware of and then shifting, reorganizing, or transforming elements in our inner perceptual world.
I will give you an example of an NLP process by briefly outlining one of my favorite and most powerful NLP processes called CORE TRANSFORMATION. Core Transformation was developed by NLP trainers Connirae and Tamara Andreas in the early 1990’s.
Most simply put Core Transformation takes any element out of our inner perceptual field and through a guided process takes this “part” on a journey that transforms it in powerfully positive ways: by connecting it to our core positive spiritual nature, by growing it up (many parts are stuck at early development stages), by integrating it physically into the whole person (most parts are isolated physically or dissociated), by making sure the change will last by ensuring it is ecologically sound and fits well with the rest of the perceptual field, and finally by using this new resourceful arrangement to transform a limited past and to create a desired future. This profound and thorough process can be used with positive parts, skills, abilities, responses, beliefs to strengthen and enhance them or with parts that are maintaining limiting, troublesome, unbalanced behaviors, responses, or beliefs to transform them in a very loving, non-oppositional way into powerful, positive, integrated resources that are truly life-enhancing.
NLP is a vast and evolving field and the quality of what is available, especially on the internet, varies wildly, so I have a couple of suggestions if you want to explore more deeply.
Here are a couple of BOOKS. There is a good, readable, introductory book by two British authors that gives the early history of NLP and lays out the most important basics of NLP in very readable language. The book is Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming by Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour.
A second great book which shows the power of NLP in action is the Heart of the Mind by Connirae and Steve Andreas. It is 21 very readable chapters with each one demonstrating an NLP pattern in action in everyday life with case studies to illustrate.
Trainings and Other Resources
Once again the quality can vary a lot so I am going to suggest the web sites of two companies that I have experienced and who consistently offer high quality training and materials: Tim & Kris Hallboom’s NLP Institute of California at www.nlpca.com and Connirae Andreas’ training company in Boulder, Colorado at www.conniraeandreas.com.