Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Explained

Posted by: Jo Banks

Date: 01-01-0001

I use NLP every day of my life, either with my clients or with myself.  It's a dynamic tool which helps me achieve quick, long lasting results...

There is so much that NLP can do and help you with, so if you want a full explanation I suggest you Google it. However, thought I'd cover how I use NLP to help myself and my clients.

NLP is basically a way of reprogramming the mind by changing or removing:

  • Unhelpful learned behaviours that are no longer useful and replacing them with more effective ones.
  • Unhelpful ‘movies’ or memories that we replay over and over and either replacing them with more constructive ones or changing their intensity.

Dealing with Learned Behaviours

What most of us don’t realise is that we create the way we react to situations when we are children. Something new happens to us and we react in a certain way and the subconscious then stores that reaction for use when that situation arises again in the future.

The problem with this is that we learn much of these reactions as children and they never change (learned behaviours) therefore, as an adult we can react to something in the same way we did when we were 6, which is no longer appropriate as an adult. As these reactions tend to be learnt subconsciously years previously, we can’t always understand why we react the way we do, or how to actually change our reactions. That’s were an NLP practitioner comes in.

All behaviours are learned, therefore, if we’ve learned them once, we can re-learn a new, more effective behaviour to replace it. What I will do is help clients pin point which behaviours or reactions to situations are no longer working for them and help them replace them with more effective ones. Once you’ve used the new reaction a couple of times, that then becomes your ‘normal’ reaction and the old one disappears.

One of my favourite sayings (and I must use it at least once a day, every day, especially with new clients) is:

“Always do what you’ve always done; always get what you’ve always got.”

In other words unless you change what you’re doing/thinking/saying you will always get the same result. It never ceases to amaze me how people continue to do the same thing and are surprised that their life never changes and they find it impossible to solve their problems. Another quote I love which says the same thing in a different way:

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” Albert Einstein

That hits the nail on the head for me. You’ve got to do something different from what you’re doing now in order for a change to occur.

Dealing with Negative Memories

Most of us run ‘movies’ in our minds of past events. However, for some, those movies can be destructive eg consistently re-running a negative memory can have a long term negative effect on us. When I speak to clients who are suffering from mild to severe stress, anxiety or depression, when I dig a big deeper I will undoubtedly find that they are re-running/reliving events that may have happened to them years before.

The problem with this is that the mind cannot tell the difference between something real and something that we vividly imagined. Therefore, using NLP techniques, helping my client change the intensity of their repeated negative pictures/movies or removing them all together and replacing them with something more positive, the pain and negativity can often be, in most cases, totally removed, thereby giving a much more control over their thoughts and emotions, making their life much calmer and leaving them feeling more in control.

What can NLP be used for?

  • Removing phobias - a phobia is just a learned behaviour to an event or object which can be just as easily unlearnt
  • Removing old negative or destructive ways of thinking and replacing them more positive and effective ones
  • Removing old patterns of behaviour and replacing them more positive and effective ones
  • Increasing confidence – removing any unhelpful images and thoughts and replacing them with

How do you change these things using NLP

We do this through a range of techniques (depending on the person and the issue) including hypnotherapy, language patterns, questioning and observation. I don’t tend to use hypnotherapy very often as I don’t find that I need to. It’s enough for me to use in-depth questioning techniques and visualisation in order help the person identify exactly what the problem is and then to use specific language patterns and further visualisation to help them change things.

Famous NLP Practitioners

Paul McKenna is a Master NLP Trainer and Practitioner and is now a key figure in the self development world (he no longer does the old 'stage hypnotherapy that he used to be known for, but is a respected Coach and Author). All of his recent books and ‘self help’ TV programmes are all based on NLP principles. In fact, he studied for years with the co-founder of NLP, Richard Bandler and still works very closely with him now delivering NLP workshops and training. I’ve done a few workshops with him and read all his books and I can’t recommend them highly enough. His stuff works.

Another person I know who uses NLP (although he doesn’t like to admit it) is Derren Brown. When I watch him, to me, as a trained NLP Master Practitioner, I can easily spot the NLP techniques he uses, in particular the language patterns he uses. 


This post is a really quick overview of NLP, there’s so much more to it than I’ve put here, but it gives you a good idea of what it can be used for and what I use it for.  I love it because of all the tecniques I've learnt over the years, this is the one I use the most and keep coming back to over and over because I know it gets quick, sustained results.


If you would like to understand more about NLP and how it could help you, contact us for a free, no obligation conversation about how we can help you.

JO's FIRST BOOK: Thoughts Become Things

Visit the website for Jo Banks' first book, Thoughts Become Things now available in paperback and Kindle formats.

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