Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)

How it works

NLP addresses how language, thought and behaviour interact to affect our outlook on life. Therapists take the patient through their concerns, assessing how they think and talk about them in a bid to understand how problems are perceived. Strategies are then put in place to reprogramme the mind to deal with situations in a more positive and constructive way. Modelling can be an important part of NLP as therapists offer examples of other (anonymous) patients, and how they have positively responded to similar stressful situations.

What it could help:

Migraine, insomnia, anxiety, depression, indigestion, phobias, pregnancy, OCD, PTSD, dyslexia, low self-confidence, weight problems.

Evidence base:

NLP is quite widely used, and known for producing relatively quick results which improve when coupled with other therapies such as hypnotherapy or counselling. However, it is unknown whether it is NLP itself, or having a therapist talking through your problems that is producing positive results. NLP is difficult to study, there is limited evidence of its effectiveness and what does exist is not reliable. Generally, studies have concluded that NLP is not significantly more effective than other stress therapies. The best supporting evidence is in treating phobias and relieving some symptoms of mental illness.

What to expect:

NLP sessions usually take place in a relaxed environment such as a therapy clinic. Some therapists also offer NLP over the phone. Initial sessions are generally one-to-one, and are led by you talking through your problems with the therapist before they take over and talk you through strategies to change the way you perceive and deal with obstacles. First sessions take 90 minutes, with subsequent sessions up to an hour. Some therapists can also combine NLP with hypnotherapy. Sessions usually end with the practitioner hearing your thoughts on the experience and they may give you techniques to continue with at home.


NLP is not regulated by one body so it is important to ensure the therapist you do choose is a member of one of the accredited professional NLP organisations (see below), and has relevant experience and training. Talk through your options before you choose a therapist and discuss all queries before the session to ensure it is the right option for you.

Find out more:

The Association of NLP is an independent group which provides impartial advice (see below).

Find a therapist:


Varies depending on the therapist’s experience, training and your needs. Initial sessions can cost £50 to £100, and subsequent sessions £30 to £70. The number depends on you, but the average is four.

How does Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) work? – VIDEO

Leave a comment