Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) is an interpersonal and communication skills model that aims to change unproductive behaviors, communication, feelings and thoughts to make you more self-aware, help you gain a more positive worldview, help you achieve your goals, improve your mental and physical well-being, improve your relationships, and help you better influence others.
Practitioners also believe that NLP can help people better manage mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and even physical health conditions like allergies, chronic pain, and visual impairments.
NLP has been praised by many health professionals and many patients tout its benefits, but just as many health professionals have criticized NLP and have been skeptical about its benefits due to little evidence to support said benefits.
But can NLP be helpful for those with ADHD? It’s complicated, but there are a handful of techniques that those suffering with ADHD might find beneficial along with other practices more commonly associated with managing ADHD.
So let’s take a closer look at NLP and how it may help to treat ADHD.
What Is PRS?
PRS (Preferred Representational System) is a big part of NLP practices, and is often described as becoming fluent in the language of your mind.
According to practitioners of NLP, we all have a worldview that impacts how we behave and the choices we make. This worldview or guide is created with the sensory input you receive in day-to-day life.
These inputs include auditory (what you hear), gustatory (what you can taste), kinesthetic (what you sense or feel), olfactory (what you can smell), and visual (what you see).
NLP theory states that you tend to favor one of these sensory inputs more than the others, and this is considered your PRS. But how can you tell what your main PRS is? Well, there are two ways to do this.
First, you can analyze your language. For example, if you tend to say “I see that,” then you have a visual PRS, but if you often say “I feel that” then you may have a kinesthetic PRS.
The second way to determine your PRS is to think about your eye movements. If you have an auditory PRS then your eyes will normally move side-to-side horizontally, or they will move downwards and to the left.
NLP practitioners try to determine your PRS to give you a better insight into your personal worldview and experiences. This knowledge can help them decide which NLP techniques will be the most beneficial for you.
However, learning your own language is just one part of NLP. Another important aspect of NLP is learning others’ worldview by paying attention to their PRS.
It can improve communication between you, and give a better understanding of their life experiences.
What Are Some NLP Techniques That May Help With ADHD?
There are a variety of exercises and techniques that NLP practitioners use, and some of these might be helpful to those with ADHD.
Official NLP sources don’t give a firm figure of how many techniques there are in NLP theory but online searching will probably pull up hundreds of NLP techniques.
Many of the exercises used in NLP therapy are quite similar to other, popular approaches in psychiatry such as affirmations, anchoring, hypnosis, meditation, and reframing.
These are techniques that might also be helpful to those with ADHD, particularly meditation and hypnosis which might help relax racing thoughts.
That being said, let’s take a look at some NLP techniques that may also come in handy for managing ADHD.
According to NLP theory, mirroring or matching another person’s body language such as their eye movements, gestures, tone of voice, and posture can be beneficial for improving your communication, helping with conflict, and possibly even with symptoms of ADHD such as struggling to concentrate by focusing on how others are behaving in similar situations.
Matching is often touted by NLP experts to be helpful in handling conflict. For example, if you’re arguing with a friend or partner and things have become heated, you may try to match their stance, body language, and volume.
This is said to help enhance your connection and illustrate that you understand their point of view.
Matching also involves mirroring their PRS, so if they’re using a lot of ‘I feel…’ language, NLP theory states that it would be productive to also use this language.
This NLP technique was created to help swap an undesired behavior, habit, or thought for a healthier one.
Those receiving treatment for ADHD might try out swishing to overcome certain behaviors or habits that are having a negative impact on their life.
For example, if you want to use swishing to break the habit of hitting snooze on your alarm, you may think of yourself lying in bed, having a peaceful sleep despite your alarm going off, before thinking of yourself doing what you’d like to do.
So, in this example, waking up when your alarm goes off, sitting up in bed, and then getting up.
You can then imagine yourself throwing the unwanted image as far as possible, making note of how it shrinks as it disappears, imagining it fading so it is no longer visible.
You can then imagine your desired image growing and growing and becoming more vivid, so you can put it into action in real life.
What Are The Benefits Of NLP?
Practitioners of NLP believe it can improve a number of issues and conditions, such as:
- Anxiety disorders like panic disorders, phobia, and social anxiety.
- Communication skills.
- Dyslexia as well as other learning disorders.
- Eating disorders.
- Emotional distress.
- Interpersonal relationships.
- OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder).
- PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
- Substance misuse.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Your overall perspective on your self-image and life.
As you may have noticed, ADHD has not been included on this list. This is because at first glance, NLP doesn’t seem to have any benefits for managing ADHD symptoms.
However, while NLP shouldn’t be seen as the only solution to managing ADHD that doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer.
Is NLP Therapy?
While ‘NLP therapy’ is a popular term, NLP isn’t officially recognized as a type of psychotherapy. Skeptics believe it to be merely pseudoscience.
However, a therapist who is familiar with NLP still might adopt the techniques and combine them with other effective approaches in their treatment.
While NLP is divisive and there isn’t any proof that it helps with ADHD, if some of the techniques we discussed seem like they could be beneficial to managing your ADHD symptoms, as well as your communication, mental well-being, and self-image, then why not try them out?
However, these NLP techniques shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for therapy, counselling, and other medical treatments.
If you have symptoms of ADHD, then you should at first seek support from your doctor before applying these techniques to your life.
A licensed therapist can help you practice new patterns of communication, overcome unwanted and negative thoughts, and improve your mental health overall.
NLP is said to promise pretty quick results, and some coaches state that improvements can be seen in as little as two sessions.
It’s always a good idea to take these approaches with a grain of salt, but it wouldn’t hurt to try these NLP techniques out in conjunction with other treatments for ADHD.