Do NLP Techniques Really Work?

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We all have behaviors and emotional states that make us feel extremely uncomfortable.

Whether it is a phobia that we just can’t shake or a certain pattern of thinking triggered by a certain state. But it is said that you can change this by using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

But what are these techniques, and do they give you results? Well, the principle behind this is to engage in communication, and behavioral and emotional strategies to trigger the desired states that you want.

The idea is that this then leads to a general change in thought and feeling.

But can you be certain that these techniques work? How often do you have to do NLP before you start noticing any differences? Well, we’ll be having a brief look at some of these techniques and what the studies show when it comes to outcomes.

What Is NLP?

The purpose of NLP is to fundamentally alter the way that people think and act. Usually, this is to alter negative patterns or automatic responses to situations that detrimentally affect people’s lives. The most notable example of this is phobias.

This was first conceived by two scientists who monitored the thought patterns of successful individuals. The point is to work with people to help them identify these behaviors so that you can modify them accordingly.

However, there is not a lot of evidence to support the fact that NLP works, although there have been some testimonies where people have claimed that it does help them to shift unhelpful patterns of thought.

This practice utilizes conscious language to instigate changes. Through repetition and modification, the idea is that you can alter the neural pathways in the brain until the new way of thinking becomes automatic.

What Are The Techniques Used In NLP?

The starting point is when individuals have to create their own maps of their internal selves. This is the series of triggers, usually started by sensory experience, that lead to certain reactions and outcomes.

NLP claims that we are all biased toward certain sensory stimuli. For example, some people respond better to things that they have heard, whereas others respond better to visual stimulation.

For a certified NLP practitioner, the purpose of working with a patient is to build up a rapport with the patient. Then they must gather information and use that to work towards a specific goal.

There are a few specific techniques that are used in NLP:

1. Rapport – This is when the NLP practitioner matches the body language and the general energy of the client they are dealing with. This is used to establish empathy to improve the implementation of other strategies.

2. Anchoring – This is when sensory information is turned into triggers to create specific emotional states.

3. Swish pattern – when entrenched patterns of behavior are modified to alter towards the desired outcome rather than an undesirable one.

4. Visual and Kinetic Dissociation – This is when certain negative memories associated with the past are detached from their original triggers. Doing this over time is meant to diminish the force of the emotion when the memory is next accessed.

Usually, all of the above techniques will either be used in tandem or practiced one at a time. The rapport technique is usually used at the beginning to glean information from the client and create a solid foundation upon which to work on other personality aspects.

Under What Circumstances Shall I Use NLP?

This is meant to help you with all aspects of your life. Negative emotions can be very harmful to your everyday life, whether in work, family life or other relationships.

This will help you improve your overall confidence, helping you apply for promotions or work for a better job.

NLP is also used to treat more serious psychological disorders, such as depression, PTSD, and phobias. Sometimes NLP practitioners are employed on a professional level to help improve company morale and productivity in the workplace.

How Effective Is NLP?

How Effective Is NLP

There is some dispute in the scientific community about how effective NLP methods are.

This is because NLP is not placed under the same regulatory standards as similar practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Because NLP is much harder to regulate, it sometimes results in malpractice that does not lead to positive results.

Also, the fact that NLP is employed on a corporate level means that employers have a vested financial interest in the success of NLP.

However, there have been studies under controlled conditions that have suggested that NLP does have a positive outcome on certain psychological disorders.

There was a report that was published by the British Journal Of General Practice that stated that NLP was not very effective for managing certain conditions such as weight loss, anxiety disorders, or misuse of substances.

There have been various scientific studies that have suggested that the evidence for the effectiveness of NLP is purely anecdotal.

Most of the studies into NLP have been conducted in strictly therapeutic environments, and the evidence regarding the effectiveness of commercial NLP is still inconclusive.

Since there are so many different studies and practices when it comes to NLP, it is harder to gauge the effectiveness of the practice.

The Best NLP Techniques

Regardless of this inconclusive scientific evidence, you might still be willing to give NLP a try. Here are some of the top techniques that are used:

1. Imagery Training

This is the act of picturing yourself performing a task or interaction successfully. The purpose of this is to visualize your settings and your body language with confidence.

This is then designed to help you actualize this visual representation in real life.

In this practice, visualization is very important. You’ll need to make sure that you picture yourself doing these and feel confident while you are doing them.

2. Swish Technique

This involves swapping two different scenarios. Take an image of what you predict will happen when you perform a certain task (this will usually be negative).

Also, picture the exact opposite happening (usually a positive outcome) but make this smaller in the background, gray and insignificant.

Now all you must do is swap these two images around gradually. Make the positive image brighter and add your own celebratory music.

Make the negative image small and dull. Repeat this a few times.

3. Modeling

This involves surrounding yourself with people who are very successful in their careers and mirroring those behaviors.

This assumes that successful people act and behave in a certain way and to achieve that success you must mirror this behavior.

If you are around a successful person and they are acting confidently and with a lot of energy, then mirroring suggests that you must act the same, matching that high energy.

The same goes for body language and even facial expressions.


NLP is a controversial practice, but it is one that has yielded results from people.

If you have tried a lot of other techniques for changing your outlook but have struggled with them, then why not try NLP? This is a decent method of trying to improve your confidence levels and set out to achieve the goals that you have drawn up for yourself.

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