Where does NLP come from?

NLP began in the early 1970s when Richard Bandler (mathematician) and John Grinder (linguist) asked themselves a fascinating question: “What is it that makes the difference between somebody who is merely competent at any given skill, and somebody who excels at the same skill?”

They assessed three different types of therapist, each one known to be outstanding in their field: Milton Erickson (hypnotherapist & psychologist), Virginia Satir (family therapist) and Fritz Perls (psychiatrist & psychotherapist). Although they all had different styles and approaches, the therapists shared one thing in common – incredible rapport building skills.

The study also revealed certain patterns, or programmes of thinking and behaviour that were the same. This led to Bandler and Grinder identifying a ‘structure of excellence’ which brought about a modelling technology (NLP) that allows us to understand how we perceive the world; organise our thinking, feelings, skills and behaviour. Whereas most strands of psychology have evolved from studying people with problems, NLP has focused on successful people, whose behaviours could offer real solutions to being the best they can be.

NLP is a field that continually evolves and innovates. Some thirty years after its creation, co-founder Grinder expanded his definition: “NLP is an attitude, methodology, and technology that teaches people how to improve the quality of their lives. It is an educational tool that teaches people how to communicate more effectively with themselves and others. It is designed to offer people more personal freedom in the way they think, feel and behave.”