Defining NLP: What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?
There has never been an official definition of Neuro-Linguistic Programing (although the iNLP Center article on NLP is pretty good) and now that NLP has been in the public domain for over 20 years, there never will be.
Here are some NLP definitions that have come and gone over the years:
NLP is the study of the structure of subjective experience.
This was a popular definition during the 1970’s among early NLP developers. Picture a bunch of hippies sitting around in the hot tubs at Esalen, exploring their minds.
NLP is a form of brief psychotherapy.
Many NLP techniques were featured among psychotherapists when brief therapy was catching on in the 1980’s, so this definition became common.
NLP is a type of hypnosis.
Since NLP developers spent time modeling the hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, MD, many associated NLP closely with hypnosis, although such association requires a narrow view of NLP.
NLP is a self-help and success system that helps you feel confident and motivated.
When personal development gurus learned NLP in the 1980’s, thousands of people learned NLP in the context of self-help.
NLP involves modeling excellence, breaking it down into learnable chunks.
In the 1990’s groups of trainers started promoting the following definition of NLP, broken down by each word.
Neuro: Having to do with the mind or the brain.
Linguistic: Suggesting that the mind has a structure in the way it communicates. NLP tools help you understand this language of the mind.
Programming: Once you understand the language of the mind, you can change your mind.
NLP is a model of life coaching, as featured at the iNLP Center.
In the 2000’s, with the rise of life coaching, NLP has become known as an effective set of skills that many life coaches depend on. Thus, NLP has become known as a set of life coaching skills.
One this is for sure, NLP is standing the test of time and adapting itself to a broad range of applications. What is NLP? It’s a system of concepts and models from some of the greatest communicators the world has ever known, distilled into workable models, first by a small group of people at the University of Santa Cruz in the 1970’s. Since then, millions have learned it and thousands have become NLP trainers, taking the original work to new levels.
What is NLP to you?
The best definition of NLP will ultimately come from you. What do these NLP skills do for you? How will you use it? Ultimately, NLP is defined by how you put it to use. The best course of action is to invent your own definition of NLP based on your personal and professional experience.