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NLP? What is it? Will I survive?

About five years ago, I was working with a coach. As we worked together, he would ask me questions that piqued my interest. The questions always elicited responses that I would never have made normally. It was more than just being open-ended questions; it was the way in which the questions were asked. He also had many “activities” that he would do with me to get to a deeper level of understanding.

If you know me, you know I am a “why” person. Until I know why something needs to be a certain way, I struggle to move on. So, I would ask why he asked the question the way he did or how the activity was beneficial. Thus, began my journey with NLP.

Neurolinguistic Programming relies on language process but is not the same a natural language processing, which shares the same acronym. Natural language processing can be found in the work being done with artificial intelligence. For the purpose of this blog post, NLP will be referring to Neurolinguistic Programming.

I have found NLP to be a fabulous tool to help someone get to a higher level of personal success. NLP uses perceptual, behavioral, and communication techniques to make it easier for people to change their thoughts and actions.

How Does It Work

NLP works with the idea that people operate by internal “maps” of the world that they learn through sensory experiences. A person using NLP will work to detect and modify unconscious biases or limitations of an individual’s map of the world.

For example, a central feature of NLP is the idea that a person is biased towards one sensory system, known as the preferred representational system or PRS.

NLP practitioners can detect this preference through language. Phrases such as “I see your point” may signal a visual PRS. Or “I hear your point” may signal an auditory PRS.

An NLP practitioner will identify a person’s PRS and base the work they are doing with a client around this framework.


NLP is a broad field of practice. Because of this, NLP practitioners use many different techniques that include the following:

  • Anchoring: Turning sensory experiences into triggers for certain emotional states.

  • Rapport: The practitioner tunes in to the person by matching their physical behaviors to improve communication and response through empathy.

  • Swish pattern: Changing patterns of behavior or thought to come to a desired instead of an undesired outcome.

  • Visual/kinesthetic dissociation (VKD): Trying to remove negative thoughts and feelings associated with a past event.

One of the most powerful techniques of NLP is to attempt to remove negative thoughts and feelings linked to a past event.

Who Uses NLP

Many popular personal development programs use NLP as a method of personal development through promoting skills, such as self-reflection, confidence, and communication.

People have had great success unearthing the language patterns that are holding them back from achieving their goals and making powerful changes in their life.

NLP can be applied commercially to achieve work-orientated goals, such as improved productivity or job progression.

More widely, it has been applied as an intervention for phobias, anxiety, and trauma.

I have used it in the work I do with educators and educational systems, coaching, building my relationships and helping others figure out what makes them tick!

Does It Work

NLP is based on the premise that a person’s map of the world is unique to that person. Success depends on each person being willing to use their map, look at how they interact with the world, and trust in the practitioner working with them.

Do I recommend NLP? Absolutely. When used by a trained practitioner with a committed client, the changes a person sees are phenomenal. If this sounds like something you’d like more information about, fill out the contact me form or text “NLP” to 206-309-6580 and we will set up a time to connect.

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