Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, USA in the 1970s. The title asserts a connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”), and behavioural patterns learned through experience (“programming”) that proponents speculate can be changed to achieve specific goals in life.
The balance of scientific evidence reveals NLP to be a largely discredited pseudoscience. Scientific reviews show it contains numerous factual errors,and fails to produce the results asserted by proponents.According to Clinical Psychologist Grant Devilly (2005),NLP has had a consequent decline in prevalence since the 1970s. Criticisms go beyond lack of empirical evidence for effectiveness, saying NLP exhibits pseudoscientific characteristics, concepts and terminology as well.[ NLP serves as an example of pseudoscience for facilitating the teaching of scientific literacy at the professional and university level. NLP also appears on peer reviewed expert-consensus based lists of discredited interventions. In research designed to identify the “quack factor” in modern mental health practice, Norcross et al. (2006) list NLP as possibly or probably discredited for treatment of behavioural problems. Norcross et al. (2010)list NLP in the top ten most discredited interventions, and Glasner-Edwards and Rawson (2010) list NLP as “certainly discredited.”
Bandler and Grinder claimed that NLP addresses problems such as phobias, depression, habit disorder, psychosomatic illnesses, and learning disorders. But reviews of empirical research show that NLP has failed to produce reliable results for its core tenets. The originators’ stated aim was “finding ways to help people have better, fuller and richer lives.” They claimed that if the effective patterns of behavior of exceptional people could be modeled (for example of famous surgeons), they could be easily acquired by anyone. NLP has been adopted by some hypnotherapists and in seminars marketed to business and government.