What is NLP?

Bruce's doctoral dissertation asked the question, "what is NLP?" and his NLP practice is based upon the answers he found. The good news is NLP has many features which can account for it's anecdotal success. It is based upon a positive view of humans and their capacity to grow and solve problems.It also emphasises practical solutions which can be tailored to the individual or organisation and implemented immediately. It does this by eclectically borrowing heavily from other disciplines, especially psychology and setting them in the context of pre-suppositions which draw heavily from systems theory. NLP also has the capacity to develop and work from a coherent epistemology . Bruce published his PhD in the peer reviewed literature and you can see a copy here

However in his 8 year PhD journey Bruce found that there is still much NLP has to do as a modality if it is going to escape the pejorative label of "Pop psychology" or "Cargo Cult science". In his NLP trainings Bruce addresses the topic of the missing aggregation through his new theory of NLP, along with the lack of testing and visibility of NLP in the appropriate academic literature.. Many will find a quite negative picture of NLP in Wikipedia. Finding that it is very difficult to alter what is said there, under the leadership of Dr Rick Gray some NLP practitioners started an alternative resource called  NLP Wiki.  Further to this the first RCT to test the NLP phobia cure has been conducted and the story behind this research can be seen here . In an attempt to associate with each other in a productive way Leaders within NLP practice meet Bi-Annually at The NLP Leadership Summit. A collection of some of the thinking of this group can be found herehere, and the 2020 volume here.

The Way Forward.

NLP says it can make explicit the implicit patterns of those who do things very well and then train others how to consistently achieve a similar performance. Two things which stood out in my research was that it is not clear precisely how NLP modelling is different from other modes of modelling and there is disagreement within the NLP community. Secondly none of these NLP patterns have been tested robustly and shown to work any better than the disciplines from which they are derived. Bruce believes the way forward is to be much more explicit and honest concerning these two areas and to demonstrate this in the appropriate academic journals. There has been a start already. For instance in the context of education it has been shown that the use of certain NLP patterns can lead to better exam results compared with other ways of teaching. Also in the context of psychotherapy NLP has been shown to be at least as good as competing modalities. As a psychotherapist Bruce works to the ethical code     of NLPtCA and  has published in books and peer reviewed journals, using case histories to demonstrate the transformative effect of NLP patterns and to explore what NLP actually is. Click  here and type in Grimley to see published papers.


Bruce sees NLP with P standing for Psychology as a development of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Along with colleagues, (see picture), from the International association of NLP institutes, (IN), at their conference in Croatia (2012) he developed the idea of NLPsy and The University of Central Nicaragua has the first ever School of Psychology to actively encourage research into NLP. P standing for psychology we believe is more appropriate as it takes NLP back to it's roots in the academic psychology of personal development, with "programming", just being one of the many processes involved in successful and sustainable change. There does appear to be some bias against NLP in academic circles. You can see here the story of two senior academics who wished to explore evidence for the NLP v/k dissociation pattern but were told they could only publish if they took the letters NLP out of their submission. A psychological approach to NLP also calls for a much more standardised approach than currently available presently which can be researched and tested within a culture of supervision, ethics and professionalism . The first meta study looking at NLP in the context of psychotherapy  shows NLP as a modality can hold it's own with other modalities well and many NLP papers can be seen here in the The Journal of Experiential Psychotherapy

Please feel free to click here to arrange a free Zoom session with Bruce to discuss any work you would like to do »

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