Is NLP A Pseudoscience?

Is NLP A Pseudoscience?

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Have you recently discovered or found out about NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming)?

It’s an incredibly interesting field, and one that captivates the hearts and minds of those who begin to dig deeper into what NLP is, and what the possibilities are. 

One of the biggest debates that surrounds NLP is whether or not it is considered a pseudoscience, as it can sometimes be unclear as to whether there is truly any scientific evidence behind it at all. 

So, if you want to find out more about NLP, including whether or not it is a pseudoscience, then this guide will provide you with all of the information you need to know. 

What Is NLP?

If you’re unfamiliar with what NLP is, then allow us to explain a little bit more in depth about what this field is, and what it involves.

The field known as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is one that combines linguistics, cognitive and behavioral psychology, as well as computer science, in order to understand the ways in which language and behavior are related. 

The overarching aim of NLP and its practitioners is to better understand how people create their subjective experiences and then how they use language to represent those experiences.

Based on this understanding, NLP has been able to develop a set of techniques and methods for communication, therapy, personal development, and business training, which it hopes will help to further our knowledge of how our minds work. 

The methods which have been created as a result of our understanding of NLP are intended to help people improve their communication skills, overcome limiting beliefs, and achieve their personal and professional goals.

However, it is worth noting that NLP is often considered controversial, and its effectiveness as a therapeutic tool is the subject of debate within the scientific community.

At this current moment in time, many people consider NLP to simply be a form of pseudoscience. 

Despite this mainstream rejection of NLP due to its lack of scientific backing, NLP continues to be popular to some extent, and is used by many individuals and organizations around the world to help try and improve people’s communication skills. 

What Are The Methods Of NLP?

As previously mentioned, the aim of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is to try and change the quality of someone’s communication, as well as help them to overcome any potentially “limiting” beliefs, and as a result, help them to try and achieve both their personal, and their professional goals.

As a result of this aim, NLP practitioners have managed to develop a number of techniques and methods to help people with all aspects of their communication. Some of the most well-known NLP techniques include:


This method includes changing the meaning of a situation or belief to create a more positive perspective, and both the content and the context of a situation or a belief can be changed, so long as it results in a more positive outcome. 


For this method, the idea is that by linking a specific emotional state or physical sensation to a particular trigger, such as a word or gesture, the response will be much quicker, and will ultimately help to lessen anxiety in situations such as meeting new people. 

Representational Systems

Teaching people how to understand that people represent their experiences through the use of language and non-verbal cues is another way of helping to improve communication too, and is particularly effective for those who often struggle with understanding what others mean when they speak. 


A submodality (in NLP at least), is a distinction of structure or form, and it is thought that by understanding the specific qualities and characteristics of sensory information, such as how it is experienced, stored, and retrieved, will allow you to connect with people much more effectively. 

Eye Accessing Cues

Is NLP A Pseudoscience?

One of the easier to understand methods of NLP is Eye Accessing Cues, which focuses on understanding how people use their eye movements to represent the type of internal experience they are having, and is another one of the more common methods used throughout NLP. 

Clean Language

A common NLP method is Clean Language, which consists of a multitude of questions that help to direct people to a particular aspect of their existence, and as a result, can potentially help to provide new insight on a certain aspect of a situation. 

Pacing And Leading

For those who have goals of being in leadership roles, but feel like they lack the charisma and persuasion required, then Pacing and Leading can be extremely helpful, and involves aligning with another person’s language and behavior, and then leading them towards a desired outcome.

Is NLP A Pseudoscience?

While many people claim to find the methods and exercises involved with NLP beneficial, those who initially stumble upon this field will likely come across the fact that many people often claim that NLP is something of a pseudoscience.

In fact, whether Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a pseudoscience is something of ongoing debate.

Many people would claim that since NLP lacks any empirical scientific support for many of its claims, and as a result of its techniques and theories being criticized as unscientific and unsupported by evidence, then it should therefore be considered a pseudoscience. 

In addition to this, many of the claims made by NLP practitioners go beyond what can be reasonably supported by the available evidence we do have, which is yet another reason why some argue that NLP is a pseudoscience.

However, while it is easy enough to dismiss NLP has a pseudoscience based on the lack of evidence, especially with some of the claims that regular practitioners in the field make, many of the field’s practitioners and supporters would argue that it actually is a valid field of study, albeit one that just needs time to find the right evidence in order to support their claims. 

While the evidence to support many of the claims of benefits that surrounds NLP isn’t wholly convincing.

There is no denying that its methods can be useful for personal and professional growth, as well as for improving communication and overcoming limiting beliefs.

Overall then, the general consensus from the scientific community is that Neuro-Linguistic Programming is indeed a pseudoscience, at least for the time being.

However, this topic is a controversial issue, with arguments and evidence on both sides. So it’s definitely important for individuals to make their own informed decision based on the available information and research.


To summarize, Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a field which aims to understand the connection between linguistics and psychological behavior, and as a result, as formed a number of different methods and exercises which its practitioners believe are able to help people improve their speech and overall communication ability, which can help people’s personal and professional development. 

NLP is often referred to as a pseudoscience by many due to the lack of empirical evidence to support the claims often made by its practitioners, with much of its evidence coming from personal anecdotes or experiences, as opposed to reliable scientific data. 

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