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What is NLP Therapy?

NLP Therapy

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What is NLP Therapy? How does it stack up to other forms of therapy?

As a trainer in the field of NLP Coaching and NLP Therapy, I believe the key statistics you find trolling the internet. This is why I think it is important for people to understand what NLP therapy is and what different forms of treatment there are. And what is NLP Coaching, then? When do you need a coach and when do you need an (NLP) therapist?

Here are the statistics I found by the way: 

  • In the UK it is estimated that 75% of the people who need mental health care do not have access to it, this is especially true for young adults.
  • Young adults between 18-25 years of age have the highest need for therapy at 33.7%, whereas the age group 26-49 has only 11.4%.
  • In 2022, 32.9% of US adults experienced both a mental health and substance abuse disorder.
  • As of 2020, the leading cause of death for children aged 10-14 in the USA is suicide.
  • In 2019 (Pre-Pandemic), 19.2% of Americans received either therapy, medication, or counseling for mental health-related conditions.
  • It is important to note that 24.7% of women received therapy, compared to only 13.4% of men.
  • In 2021, the number of adults seeking therapy in the United States had already risen to 21.6%.

What is NLP Therapy?

Though some may say I offer “NLP Therapy,” I am highly uncomfortable with the term. People quickly equate the term therapy with someone who has a degree in psychology or psychiatry when speaking of thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and installations in the past. Though I train psychologists and psychiatrists in NLP, I do not have a degree in the field. So, I offer NLP training, consulting, coaching, etc.

A way to remain in integrity when referring to NLP Therapy is to understand that you are essentially stating that a licensed clinical social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist is using NLP techniques within their therapy sessions. The logical sum is NLP therapy.

What is NLP? And NLP techniques.

What is the Difference Between NLP and Other Forms of Therapy

We previously determined that NLP therapy involves a therapist using NLP techniques, and this therapist took training in another modality from the field of psychology.

NLP therapy and other forms of therapy have very similar goals:

  • Promoting mental health.
  • Promoting personal growth.
  • Promoting a decrease in negative emotions.


How does NLP stack up against the most common forms of therapy?

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

Out of all therapies, CBT comes closest to NLP. Each works with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, but each has different techniques for achieving the same goal. In my opinion, a CBT therapist who is also trained in NLP has the best of both worlds. They possess the solid therapeutic background that someone with medical concerns really needs, and they have a toolbox that includes both NLP techniques and CBT.

I would say NLP also tends to explore language (the things we say to ourselves and how we say them) and works with the unconscious programs we run.

DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)

DBT was originally created to help with what was then called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), now more appropriately termed Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) and Emotional Intensity Disorder (EID).

DBT helps people cope with intense emotions. It focuses on acceptance and change and also has its own toolbox.

NLP has its own toolset used for dealing with negative emotions, but it is more geared toward people who do not have a disorder. A therapist trained in both DBT and NLP would therefore have a larger toolset to draw from when treating the same problems.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy has in common with NLP in that they both work with conscious as well as unconscious programming. This form of therapy explores how past experiences inform a person’s present.

Again, a therapist trained in Psychodynamic therapy uses NLP to enhance and enlarge their toolset.

There are a series of NLP techniques that some refer to as Timeline Therapy. Again, I think this is a misrepresentation if someone isn’t a therapist. I prefer the term NLP Timeline techniques or NLP timeline coaching. Though some NLP workshops teach timeline work in a matter of hours, I would always recommend therapists choose an NLP Master Practitioner training where several days are dedicated.

In NLP therapy combined with timeline work, clients travel back into the past and towards the future and work with concepts like significant emotional events (root cause), limiting decisions, negative emotions, and anxiety.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

CPT was created to work with trauma and PTSD, offering protocols to assist people suffering from these types of afflictions with the goal of reducing symptoms.

I taught therapists from the United States Armed Forces to use NLP for PTSD and other trauma-based work. Given that NLP works much faster, it has definitely earned its rightful place.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Prolonged Exposure Therapy is meant to reduce fear and trauma. To be honest, it is the type of therapy I am not on board with. I have cured hundreds of phobias and traumas without exposing anyone to anything. I would rather teach someone how to not be afraid than torture them with gradual exposure.

A phobia can be fixed in a single session by an NLP Practitioner who is also a therapist. Humble brag, it takes me less than 10 minutes.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy)

EMDR is a form of therapy where eye movements are used while revisiting a negative memory. As a result, these memories can be released.

Though NLP uses eye movements to detect how someone is thinking and what strategies someone uses, it is not designed to release trauma, for instance. NLP uses other tools for that purpose.

EMDR, when used at the right time and in the right place, has had huge success. I know personally and professionally people who have received great benefits.

What Does an NLP Therapy Session Look Like?

The effectiveness of NLP therapy highly depends on the person administering it. In both the fields of therapy and NLP, there are many tools, techniques, and options available.

Typically, you’ll find some form of assessment aimed at identifying negative strategies and thought patterns. Then, NLP therapy is applied along with the techniques the therapist learned in their original psychology education.

Sometimes, skill development, such as coping strategies, is also a part of NLP therapy.

How Effective is NLP?

NLP therapy is often more effective than traditional therapy alone. This means that a therapist trained in a more traditional modality of mental health treatment, who also masters NLP, can pick and choose the best techniques from both worlds.

However, the effectiveness of any tool used ultimately depends on the quality of the practitioner. Personally, I shy away from therapists who have not taken their continued education seriously. The scientific education of psychologists often lags behind the latest discoveries. Similarly, I would also shy away from NLP Master Practitioners who aren’t well-trained or face challenges in their application of NLP.

NLP Therapy Vs Coaching - What is Best for Me?

In a nutshell? Therapy is for people experiencing ill-being and mental illness. Coaching is for people who are not mentally ill and want to achieve well-being, mental health, mental resilience, and a better mindset, making it more likely to achieve happiness and success.

This video will help you understand the difference between NLP therapy and coaching a little better. It explains when, as a non-psychologist, I refer out to an NLP therapist.

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