One of my very first clients came in with a phobia around driving her car on highways. It had been a difficult experience for around twenty years, and she had only a vague idea as to when and how it had started. Now, this is one of the very first types of conditions all beginning NLP students learn how to treat, even though years ago people used to spend enormous amounts of time and money trying to de-sensitize themselves from the experience, and often well intended treatments made things far worse. Naturally, having just graduated from my NLP training, I was both eager and a bit nervous to see how well the famous NLP “Fast Phobia Cure” would work on a real client outside of class.
Twenty minutes later (and this was twice as long as it usually takes), to her great surprise, the mere thought of driving on a highway, even with trucks passing her, no longer triggered a panic. She felt a sense of control and ease… how could that be? She asked me if that was all there was to it. Even though the job was pretty much done as far as I was concerned – her phobia was neutralized – I put her in a hypnotic trance because that’s what she had come for. Her drive home, on the highway, was uneventful. A couple weeks later she reported having taken the highway to go attend a concert, and she still couldn’t believe she was “cured”, and it was that easy!
NLP, short for “Neuro-Linguistic Programming”, is based on the assumption that our brains “code” our experiences according to certain patterns, similar to the filing system in a computer. We each have our own unique ways of coding, or filing away our experiences such as our emotional reactions, what we see, hear, etc., and the various techniques for working with this aspect of our experience make up the “neuro” part of NLP.
Likewise the language we use has a profound impact on our belief patterns, hence the “linguistic” side of NLP. These neuro-linguisitic coding patterns that we all have can make us behave in ways that maintain our fears, phobias, anxieties and so forth, or can allow us to live strong, confident, effective, successful lives.
Why is all that important? Because the ways of working with our brain’s coding systems that NLP provides have proven to be not only surprisingly effective with many problems such as phobias, anxieties, and more, but can achieve their results in very short time frames.
A simple metaphor might make this easier to appreciate:
Imagine using a certain map to drive from one place to another for years and years… then one day a friend takes our map and marks out a shortcut that uses a road we weren’t aware of. In less than an hour after try out the shortcut we realize: “This is easier! Now I have more choice in how get to where I want to go!”.
Anthony Robbins and others have developed huge followings based on their use of NLP. And many other systems, including EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), while unique contributions in their own right, borrow heavily from NLP. I have, by the way, also used EFT with clients, with a strong “dollop” of NLP, with great success!