Neuro Linguistic Programming

Historical background

Based on the work done by John Grinder and Richard Bandler, NLP was born out of the practices of 3 therapists:

  • Milton Erickson (founder of the Ericksonian hypnosis)
  • Fritz Perls (founder of the Gestalt therapy)
  • Virginia Satir (founder of the Family therapy).

NLP was really born in the 1970s in the United States, in Santa Cruz University (California) where the 3 therapists were giving lectures and where John Grinder was teaching linguistics.

John Grinder was a follower of Noam Chomsky.  Richard Blandler was a mathematician who also worked with computers he was specialised in artificial intelligence.  When he met Grinder, he started a fourth year with a specialisation in psychology in Santa Cruz University's Kresge College



Programming: the word refers to the whole of our automatic functionings, whether those are cognitive, emotional or behavioural.
Neuro: the word refers to neurones, that is to our central nervous system and to our peripheral nervous system which make useful or harmful links between our perceptions.
Linguistic: Our language allows us to communicate and order our thoughts and conveys our culture.
According to NLP any individual can do what any another individual does.

NLP founders speak about it in those terms:
"We are not psychologists, we are not theologians or theoreticians.  We do not have any precise idea about the "real" nature of things and this is not what we are interested in."

Even if the founders do not consider their study field like a science, they use a scientific language and scientific references to build techniques which, according to some other people, justifies the "pseudoscience" denomination.


Its role:

  • "Observe"abilities and adapt them
  • "decipher" them
  • "experiment" them to create
    • efficient models

These "models" constitute a base on which a development can be build.

Models' role is to facilitate:

  • self-knowledge
  • access to current and acquired resources by the patient
  • the creation of new resources
  • the transfer of a resource from a background (personal for instance) to another background (professional for instance)

Transfer happens:

  • from a "present state"
  • toward a "desired state"
  • using the past, current and future (imagination)resources of the patient by using techniques inherited from American therapists (Milton Erickson in particular).