Neuro-linguistic programming is a form of psychotherapy that was developed from the work of several well-known therapists in the 1970s. It accurately describes its principle within its own name: the nerves are affected by language and, like a computer, can reprogram the thought process. Basically, NLP reorganizes how people think and allows emotions to flow in a way that they perhaps have never previously done.

The technique depends for its success on the patterns of communication in the relationship between therapist and client, rather than on the particular theories about therapeutic change held by the therapist. The practitioner approaches each client as a unique individual, noting the minutiae of the client’s behaviour and body language, in order to understand that person’s mechanisms of perception. For example, by observing changes in pupil size, direction of gaze, head movements and breathing, the therapist can identify whether a person is using visual or auditory recall. The therapist can then communicate with the client in the appropriate way, encouraging rapport.

NLP can be used to change deeply-buried emotional states and is therefore generally practised by experienced psychotherapists who can deal with what changes are necessary. Practitioners are often trained in hypnotherapy, allowing access to the deepest areas of the subconscious. The client learns some of the skills used by the therapist, such as mirroring, reframing, disassociation and anchoring.

Anchoring is the recalling of good or positive experiences and using them as resources for the future, so that they can be superimposed on a situation that has unpleasant feelings and make those bad feelings less potent. In this way clients increase awareness of how their thoughts, beliefs and values influence how they perceive the world and that they can learn new thought patterns in order to make changes to unhelpful ways of functioning and thereby increase personal happiness. NLP is a method of thinking and acting more effectively, in order to succeed in any area of life, whether it is work, relationships, self-esteem or creativity.