In article <RBDcDc3w165w@verstek.com> firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
>email@example.com (John Grohol) writes:
>> For instance, NLP is interested in specific, measurable outcomes. So is
>> behavior therapy. ....
>> NLP is interested in the client imagining how they would like to be in the
>> future. So is cognitive therapy.
>> In short, I don't quite understand how NLP differs significantly than what
>> many therapists already use or do in therapy.
>When it comes to many of the so-called NLP techniques, your
>understanding is similar to mine. In many ways, NLP is basically
>behaviorism applied to cognitive science. It says that the stimulus
>in a stimulus-response chain can be internal cognitive
>images/sounds/voices. What NLP does that neither of the other two do
>is to combine both models.
NLP has lots of things in common with traditional therapy. This is not surprising, since most of the NLP developers and many of the present NLP trainers have graduate educations in standard clinical psychology.
NLP is a fairly vast body of knowledge, attitudes, and approaches --- although not quite as vast as psychology as a whole.
As far as specific approaches go, in addition to the fairly well known techniques there is a whole vast area called ``language patterns.'' This includes the ``meta-model,'' which is the original basis for NLP, and the whole range of Ericksonian hypnotic language patterns, plus the use of presuppositions and redirection (``slight of mouth'' patterns). And various confusion patterns, especially Bandler's bizarre patterns with verb tenses.
As far as the specific therapeutic techniques and approaches, a whole lot of NLP certainly fits into the realm of cognitive-behavioral therapies, although I myself prefer the term cognitive-behavioral-affective. NLP uses behavioral techniques such as desensitization and flooding, although it has its own version of these techniques which it claims are far more effective.
NLP shares with behavioral therapy and (to a large extent, I think) hypnosis the attitude that the purpose of therapy is change, not insight. However, unlike behavioral therapy, NLP is willing to use insight as a tool if it seems useful. NLP definitely stresses setting specific, measurable outcomes. I think that NLP, with its emphasis on internal subjective experience, is willing to consider a wider range of outcomes than behavioral therapy is. And unlike academic approaches to clinical psychology, NLP advocates the use of very specific outcomes that are easily verifiable (``demonstrable in sensory experience'') rather than the use of statistically-based diagnostic instruments. (I think there's no doubt, though, that many traditionally trained therapists who use NLP also use the usual diagnostic instruments.)
In my original NLP training, not only was there great stress on setting specific outcomes, but also on being able to step into the client's ``model of the world'' to best figure out how the client is able to maintain the problem state and where the least possible change can be made to enable the client to achieve his desired outcome.
One could think of the primary objective of my practitioner training as teaching us how to ask useful questions. My experience with non-NLP therapists is that they don't know how to ask intelligent questions. They bring into the therapy session a whole pack of assumptions and they don't know how to check these assumptions out with the client and so they try to force them on him. (``Well, I know that you really do hate your father because otherwise you wouldn't have so many problems in your relationships.'')
I have watched a number of videoclips of behavioral therapists working with clients. While I was taking courses at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, I heard a talk by a behavioral therapist who worked with sex offenders and watched some rather lengthy clips of his work. (As best I remember, his name was Stewart Nixon.) As a NLPer, the one thing that was always conspicuous about these behavioral therapists was their total lack of rapport with their clients. I conjectured that behavioral therapists consider any sort of rapport or empathy as a contamination to be avoided. Although there's another possible hypothesis, namely that behavioral therapists are people who are naturally lacking in the ability to have rapport and empathy and that in fact this is what attracted them to behavioral therapy in the first place.
In NLP, rapport is regarded as the most important of all therapeutic skills.
[Note added: I have a received a communication from someone familiar with behavioral therapy who states that behavioral therapists do indeed value rapport, although they don't put the same stress on it that NLP does. It is possible that I may have made an incorrect generalization from the five or six behavioral therapists I have seen. On the other hand, it is possible that behavioral therapists understand the term rapport in a more limited sense than NLPers do.]
The old anchoring techniques from the early days of NLP involved a realization that emotions are as much a part of subjective experience as cognition and behavior and that they are just as available for a therapist to work with. In doing a Change History, for instance, a therapist can ask ``What emotional resource would you have needed in order to have been able to successfully cope with that past experience?''
If the client answers ``confidence,'' for instance, then one can realize that confidence amounts to a certain body-feeling and that the client's body does in fact have the ability to take on that feeling. (``Have there ever been times in your life when you've felt confident?'') One can then assist the client to take that feeling of confidence back to the past experience, and imagine going through the past experience while feeling confident. The use of anchors is a mechanism for making a desirable emotional state available when needed during therapy. However I myself am not at all convinced that anchoring is really necessary. I have had success just saying to a client ``Now remember what that feeling of confidence is like and take that feeling back into that past experience.''
In my original NLP training, it was emphasized that the ability to elicit emotional states in others --- including such things as feelings of anticipation, uncertainty, or curiosity --- was one of the major skills we were expected to learn.
>If you adopt them, NLP's underlying attitudes and assumptions (e.g.
>outcome orientation, find/design a unique intervention for each
>client, language [verbal and non] reflects mental modeling processes)
>provide a basis for doing therapeutic changework. The other schools
>of thought don't really address the larger question of how to
>structure the overall approach and intervention.
Clinical psychology tends to start from the concept of a disorder. The attitude is that the client is not mentally/emotionally/behaviorally functioning correctly, he has a capital-P Problem. Now in medicine, the term ``disorder'' makes sense, because for the most part there is definitely one correct way for the various organs of the body to function and the outcome for medical intervention is ideally to restore this normal functioning.
In psychology, though, there is usually no generally accepted single proper way for the mind to function. It may be easy to identify a Problem --- something which is clearly undesirable for the client. However the process of fixing this will involve having the client move out of the problem state into some other state, and if the attention of the therapist and client is focused on the Problem, this new state is likely to be selected by default and may not be the most desirable.
For instance in the videotape Lasting Feelings, which I've discussed in previous postings, if the intention were simply to ``fix'' the client's jealousy, then Leslie Cameron Bandler could have taken the client through a desensitization process. A therapist who did this would probably not even be aware of the default positive outcome she had chosen: ``I want the client to be indifferent to seeing her husband interact with other women.'' Both the therapist and client might in fact have been satisfied with this result and might have regarded the work as a major success. But desensitization would not have enriched the client's relationship and self-esteem in the way that Cameron-Bandler was able to do by working from the basis of a much richer and more ``ecological'' outcome.
The fundamental question for NLP is not ``What are all the ways in which people can be broken?'' --- a question that leads to such things as the DSM --- but rather ``How and why do people change?'' I think that this is a question which can lead to a real scientific investigation of the mind, emotions, and behavior. An investigation that bridges both clinical and scientific psychology.
When the main justification that a science has for itself is how scientific it is, rather than how many worthwhile discoveries it makes, that is a strong indication that something is wrong.