Neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP, is a behavioral-modification technique used by psychiatrists, medical physicians, hypnotherapists, and general counselors. Neuro-linguistic programming was invented and introduced during the 1970's and remains a popular, supplemental tool for initiating positive, personal change.
What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?
Neuro-linguistic programming is a psychological approach to communication and personal development that focuses on the connection between mind and language, and how that connection affects our body and behavior. It involves the use of guided visualizations along with specific language patterns to initiate positive change from within. For years, claims of the benefits of NLP have been numerous and covered everything from improved memory and focus, weight loss, lie detection, and reduced anxiety.  A few studies have been successful in supporting these claims, suggesting that NLP may be a worthwhile complementary approach for some individuals.
1. Supports Weight Loss
The eating habits of concern eaters can have more to do with what's going on in their head than their appetite. As such, psychological behavioral modification can be helpful for reducing how much a person eats and increasing how often they exercise. One study found that people trying to lose weight experienced positive benefits from taking part in NLP, despite having trouble staying consistent with the exercises. 
2. Promotes Learning
Learning can be tough and feeling discouraged can make it even more tough. One study found that NLP may be helpful for improving self esteem in children with dyslexia by helping to provide a deeper sense of relaxation and lower level of anxiety – possibly impacting learning capabilities.  Researchers agree that more examination is needed, especially for those with ADD/ADHD.
3. Helps to Reduce Anxiety
Talking and other therapeutic approaches are very effective for dealing with anxiety so it's no surprise that NLP offers this benefit. One study on individuals who experienced claustrophobia during MRI scans found that NLP was an extremely effective tool for alleviating feelings of anxiety; a finding echoed by additional inquiries.   It's suspected that the combination of relaxation and guided imagery is perhaps the biggest reason NLP helps to curb anxious feelings.
4. Supports Balanced Mood
There is some limited evidence to suggest that NLP may be a useful tool for supporting an overall healthy mood.  Keep in mind, however, that depression involves a multitude of personal factors that are unique to the person and the approach for dealing with it need to be multifaceted and specifically tailored to the individual. NLP may offer positive benefits to an overall solution.
5. Helps You Get Over Bad Habits
One of the best ways to rid yourself of a bad habit is to replace it with a new, good habit. NLP has remained one of the most sought-after methods for helping people do just that. Since NLP has no risk for side effects, it is a great tool that anyone can have in their arsenal for fighting bad habits like junk food or putting off exercising.
Getting Started With Neuro-Linguistic Programming
For persons who want to improve their quality of life from within, without the use of dangerous pharmaceuticals, NLP is absolutely worth a look. It doesn't have any significant side effects and may complement conventional psychotherapy. Keep in mind that everyone is mentally different and no one approach can fit every person. Make sure your foundations are in place; eating well, exercise, and getting plenty of sun exposure are key for supporting a healthy mental state.
How do you stay sane? Leave a comment and let us know what works for you!
- Wiseman R, Watt C, ten Brinke L, Porter S, Couper SL, Rnakin C. The eyes don’t have it: lie detection and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40259. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040259.
- Sorensen LB, Greve T, Kreutzer M, Pedersen U, Nielsen CM, Toubro S, Astrup A. Weight maintenance through behavior modification with a cooking course or neurolinguistic programming. Can J Diet Pract Res. 2011 Winter;72(4):181-5. doi: 10.3148/72.4.2011.181.
- Bull L. Sunflower therapy for children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia): a randomised, controlled trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2007 Feb;13(1):15-24.
- Bigley J, Griffiths PD, Prydderch A, Romanowski CA, Miles L, Lidiard H, Hoggard N. Neurolinguistic programmin gused to reduce the need for anaesthesia in claustrophobic patients undergoing MRI. Br J Radiol. 2010 Feb;83(986):113-7. doi: 10.1259/bjr/14421796.
- Konefal J, Duncan RC, Reese MA. Neurolinguistic programming training, trait anxiety, and locus of control. Psychol Rep. 1992 Jun;70(3 Pt 1):819-32.
- Hossack A, Standidge K. Using an imaginary scrapbook for neurolinguistic programming in the aftermath of a clinical depression: a case history. Gerontologist. 1993 Apr;33(2):265-8.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.