Okay, okay, the set of letters themselves. NLP literally stands for a mouth-full of a phrase: Neuro-Linguistic Programming. This refers to the fact that we have a mind-body system that we can program very much the way we can program software for a computer. This mind-body system, or our neuro-linguistics, is made up of our neurology (our nervous systems that enables us to live, breathe, think, and function) and our linguistics (the symbol systems that run the neurology).
Put mind-body together, the linguistics of neurology, and we have a marvelous, mysterious and even magical human bio-computer. And the best news– it’s programmable. Sure, it’s hard-wired with a few basic dispositions, but for the most part, “as we think (symbolize, give meaning to things), so we are.” And with that, the adventure begins.
What do you mean?
We mean that if you don’t have a great strategy for making friends, learning, staying healthy, looking at the world with the eyes of opportunities, etc., then you just need a strategy. You work perfectly well. There’s nothing wrong with you. You may simply not have the right strategy for the job, or you may have some stupid strategy running your programs of thinking, feeling, speaking, and behaving that’s getting in the way.
NLP, as a model of human functioning, takes a very different attitude from some of the old psychologies. In NLP, we do not start from the assumption (and what an assumption it is!) that people are broken. No. Instead, we assume the opposite – that people work perfectly well, and that they have all the resources they need, and that the only problem isn’t with them, but with their programming.
If this sounds familiar and similar to other fields, it is. NLP is a branch of the Cognitive Sciences and Cognitive Behavioral Psychology. It grew out of General Semantics (Korzybski), Transformational Grammar (Noam Chomsky), Anthropology and Cybernetics (Bateson), Reframing (Watzalawick, et al.), Family Systems (Virginia Satir), Gestalt Therapy (Perls), Medical hypnosis (Milton Erickson), and several related studies. This is most of the respectable body of knowledge from which NLP arose.
L. Michael Hall. Ph.D.
Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D. Min.
Jason R. Schneider