You charge people money for this? Good grief.

This comment from ‘L Street’ appeared on the Therapy page of this website but I’d like to address it here on the front page because he  makes some interesting points that are well worth addressing.  For simplicities sake I’m going to assume ‘L Street’ is a he, she can correct me if I’m wrong.

You charge people money for this? Good grief.

Show me meta-analyses of double-blind peer reviewed work – verifiable, repeatable and leading to predicting future outcomes. You can’t, because NLP is hocus-pocus. It was so thoroughly discredited way back in the 1980’s that you can’t even find any credible research that isn’t 20 years old.

Snake-oil for the modern world. Catharsis as commodity. Any benefits you have noticed are almost certainly merely due to providing someone with empathy, rapport, unconditional acceptance and the precious rare experience of being fully attended to. But that’s all. Anecdotes are not evidence.

People can go to any free local befriending service for the same outcome.

I apologise in advance this is going to be a long post.

As far as I know I have never met L Street. I assume from what he has written that he is very concerned that people in need get the most appropriate and effective treatment available. I happen to agree with that, however we obviously differ on how that might be done and how you would know what is effective or not.

I’ll go step by step through the comment apart from the first line which I’ll save for last.

Show me meta-analyses of double-blind peer reviewed work – verifiable, repeatable and leading to predicting future outcomes.

Peer reviewed work of what exactly? NLP isn’t a psychological theory (and never claimed to be) it’s a collection of inter-related (though not inter-dependent) models.

Coincidentally the Today program on Radio 4 just had an interview with Sir Michael Rawlins the Chairman of NICE questioning the omnipotence of the Randomised Control Trial model of figuring out what works.

You can evaluate the results of applying one of those models, eye-accessing cues, fast phobia cure, and so forth by experiment. But even if you established with good and repeatable experiments that the eye accessing model was statistically unlikely, that wouldn’t say anything about the rest of NLP. Any more than demonstrating a particular anti-depressant is no better than placebo invalidates the whole of pharmacology.

You can’t, because NLP is hocus-pocus.

You’re right, I can’t, but not because NLP is hocus pocus, rather because those experiments haven’t been done yet.

It was so thoroughly discredited way back in the 1980’s that you can’t even find any credible research that isn’t 20 years old.

Would you like to be specific about the thorough discrediting? They wouldn’t happen to be the ‘Dillingham‘ experiment and the ‘Hogan‘ experiments by any chance?  Follow the links to read a critique of those ‘discreditings’. In fact if you follow the link you can read a more detailed and closely argued article about NLP and Research than I can provide here.

You could run some proper research about the effects of applying one or other of these models and get some statistically significant answers. I present a sample of published pieces of research written in the last 20 (supposedly empty) years. I’ve listed them for your convenience at the end of this post. Some of them even appear in credible peer reviewed journals.

By the way I agree with you that there is a lack of research, I’m a science geek so I’m quite interested in what science has to say about NLP amongst other things.

I think there are a few reasons behind the scarcity of published reseach.

  1. Most NLPers have a pragmatic, empiricist point of view, they might be mildly interested in research, but on the whole if it works that’ll do.
  2. In contrast to Aaron Beck, a doctor and the founder of the current therapy de jour, CBT who started his work in the sixties, in a medical school with access to all the implements of research. NLP wasn’t started by psychologists, the founders had no interest in formulating a psychological theory or testing it out, they just wanted to be able to model what other people did well. Interest in researching the effects of NLP in a formal setting by people who know something about it is a comparatively recent phenomenon. So CBT has about 20 or 30 years head start in that regard. Perhaps we could have this conversation again in 2028 and see how things have developed.
  3. Research is horrifically expensive – who’s going to pay for it? Drug companies have a bottom line to support, universities have theories and papers to publish. If there’s noone to write the cheque the research isn’t going to get done.
  4. If you look at the papers listed at the end of this post, you will find a huge variety of applications of NLP. From such a wide field coming up with enough studies about one particular area to come to any (statistically) significant conclusion is going to take a while.

Having said that there are areas of research that validate ideas that have been common currency in NLP without ever directly mentioning or having heard of NLP. For example: Research catches up with NLP

Snake-oil for the modern world. Catharsis as commodity.

Would you care to explain those, they make good sound bites but I don’t know what you mean by them.

Any benefits you have noticed are almost certainly merely due to providing someone with empathy, rapport, unconditional acceptance and the precious rare experience of being fully attended to.

Back when ‘Adam was a lad’, I took a diploma in Person Centred Therapy (the therapy de jour then), Carl Rogers the author of the ‘necessary and sufficient conditions of therapy’ you mention was one of the trainers. So I have a great fondness for empathy, rapport and unconditional positive regard. I think they are necessary but they may not be sufficient.

By the way what exactly are the benefits I would notice?

But that’s all.

Is it? I wonder how you know that?

Anecdotes are not evidence.

That’s true, they are not statistically significant evidence. However they are where most theories start whether they grow up into something more substantial is a matter of time (and money). And statistics aside everyone’s experience of therapy, yours and mine included, would ‘just’ be anecdotal but none the less important for all that.

People can go to any free local befriending service for the same outcome

Do you know what the outcomes (both what they want and what they get) of my clients are? If you don’t then I don’t see how you can make that claim – where’s your evidence?

And finally back to the beginning

You charge money for this. Good grief

What exactly is the ‘this’ that you think I am charging for?

As far as I know we’ve never met and you have never been my client. So how do you know what I do and what my clients get out of it?

“Good grief”. Hmm … in my opinion the evidence you’ve presented doesn’t support that conclusion.

Here’s that short list of post 1990 research papers related to NLP

  1. Duncan, R. C., Konefal, J., Spechler, M. M. (1990): “Effect of neurolinguistic programming training on self-actualization as measured by the Personal Orientation Inventory.” Psychol Rep. Jun, Vol. 66(3 Pt 2) pp. 1323-30.
  2. Edwards, Linda A. (1999): “Self-hypnosis and psychological interventions for symptoms attributed to Candida and food intolerance.” Australian Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis Vol 20(1) Mar 1999, 1-12
  3. Gorecka, D., Borak, J., Goljan, A., Gorzelak, K., Mankowski, M., Zgierska, A. (1999): “Treatment outcome in tobacco dependence after nicotine replacement therapy and group therapy.” Pneumonol Alergol Pol Vol. 67(3-4) pp. 95-102
  4. Graf, U. (1995): “Neurolinguistic programming in physician-patient communication. Basic principles of the procedure–examples for application in surgery.” Fortschr Med. Sep 20, Vol. 113(26) pp. 368-7
  5. Helm, David J. (1991): “Neuro-linguistic programming: Gender and the learning modalities create inequalities in learning: A proposal to reestablish equality and promote new levels of achievement in education.” Journal of Instructional Psychology Vol 18(3) Sep 1991, 167-169
  6. Helm, David J. (1990): “Neuro-linguistic programming: Equality as to distribution of learning modalities.” Journal of Instructional Psychology Vol 17(3) Sep 1990, 159-160
  7. Hossack, A., Standidge, K. (1993): “Using an imaginary scrapbook for neurolinguistic programming in the aftermath of a clinical depression: a case history.” Gerontologist. Apr, Vol. 33(2) pp. 265-8.
  8. Hossack, A., Standidge, K. (1993): “Using an imaginary scrapbook for neurolinguistic programming in the aftermath of a clinical depression: a case history.” Gerontologist. Apr, Vol. 33(2) pp. 265-8.
  9. Jepsen, C. H. (1992): “Neurolinguistic programming in dentistry.” J Calif Dent Assoc. Mar, Vol. 20(3) pp. 28-32.
  10. Konefal, J., Duncan, R. C. (1998): “Social anxiety and training in neurolinguistic programming.” Psychol Rep. Dec, Vol. 83(3 Pt 1) pp. 1115-22.
  11. Konefal, J., Duncan, R. C., Reese, M. A. (1992): “Neurolinguistic programming training, trait anxiety, and locus of control.” Psychol Rep. Jun, Vol. 70(3 Pt 1) pp. 819-32.
  12. Konefal, J., Duncan, R. C., Reese, M. A. (1992): “Neurolinguistic programming training, trait anxiety, and locus of control.” Psychol Rep. Jun, Vol. 70(3 Pt 1) pp. 819-32
  13. Lang, Reuben A. (1993): “Neuropsychological deficits in sexual offenders: Implications for treatment.” Sexual & Marital Therapy Vol. 8(2) pp. 181-200.
  14. Lang, Reuben A. (1993): “Neuropsychological deficits in sexual offenders: Implications for treatment.” Sexual & Marital Therapy Vol. 8(2) pp. 181-200.
  15. Masters, Betsy J., Rawlins, Melanie E., Rawlins, Larry D., Weidner, Jean (1991): “The NLP swish pattern: An innovative visualizing technique.” Journal of Mental Health Counseling Vol 13(1) Jan 1991, 79-90
  16. Masters, Betsy J., Rawlins, Melanie E., Rawlins, Larry D., Weidner, Jean (1991): “The NLP swish pattern: An innovative visualizing technique.” Journal of Mental Health Counseling Vol 13(1) Jan 1991, 79-90
  17. Mayers, Kathleen S. (1993): “Enhancement of psychological testimony with the use of neurolinguistic programming techniques.” American Journal of Forensic Psychology Vol 11(2) 1993, 53-60
  18. Peterson-Cooney, Lorrie (1991): “”Effect of neurolinguistic programming training on self-actualization as measured by the Personal Orientation Inventory”: Addendum to the Duncan, – I et al. -R study.” Psychological Reports Vol 68(2) Apr 1991, 593-594
  19. Sandhu, Daya S., Reeves, T., Portes, Pedro R. (1993): “Cross-cultural counseling and neurolinguistic mirroring with Native American adolescents.” Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development Vol 21(2) Apr 1993, 106-118
  20. Stanton, Harry E. (1996): “Combining hypnosis and NLP in the treatment of telephone phobia.” Australian Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis Vol 24(1) May 1996, 53-58
  21. Swets, John A., Bjork, Robert A. (1990): “Enhancing human performance: An evaluation of “New Age” techniques considered by the U.S. army.” Psychological Science. Mar, Vol. 1(2) pp. 85-86.
  22. Burke, D. T., Meleger, A., Schneider, J. C., Snyder, J., Dorvlo, A. S., Al-Adawi, S. (2003): “Eye-movements and ongoing task processing.” Percept Mot Skills. Jun, Vol. 96(3 Pt 2) pp. 1330-8.
  23. Clabby, J., O’Connor, R. (2004): “Teaching learners to use mirroring: rapport lessons from neurolinguistic programming.” Fam Med. Sep, Vol. 36(8) pp. 541-3.
  24. Eckstein, Daniel (2004): “”Reframing” as an Innovative Educational Technique: Turning a Perceived Inability into an Asset.” Korean Journal of Thinking & Problem Solving. Apr, Vol. 14(1) pp. 37-47.
  25. Ellis, C. (2004): “Neurolinguisic programming in the medical consultation.” S Afr Med J. Sep, Vol. 94(9) pp. 748-9.
  26. Lakin, Jessica L., Jefferis, Valerie E., Cheng, Clara Michelle, Chartrand, Tanya L. (2003): “The chameleon effect as social glue: Evidence for the evolutionary significance of nonconscious mimicry.” Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. Fal, Vol. 27(3) pp. 145-162.
  27. Kumin, A. N., Khairedinova, O. P., Sumina, LIu, Variushkina, E. V., Doronin, D. V., Galimzianov, D. M., Masin, A. N., Gol’dberg, G. A. (2000): “Psychotherapy impact on effectiveness of in-hospital physical rehabilitation in patients with acute coronary syndrome.” Klin Med (Mosk) Vol. 78(6) pp. 16-20.
  28. Taylor, Raymond J. (2004): “Therapeutic intervention of trauma and stress brought on by divorce.” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage Vol. 41(1-2) pp. 129-135.
  29. Turan, Bulent, Stemberger, Ruth M. (2000): “The effectiveness of matching language to enhance perceived empathy.” Communication & Cognition Vol 33(3-4) 2000, 287-300
  30. Walter, J., Bayat, A. (2003): “Neurolinguistic programming: verbal communication.” Bmj. Mar 15, Vol. 326(7389) pp. S83
  31.  Walter, J., Bayat, A. (2003): “Neurolinguistic programming: temperament and character types.” Bmj. Apr 19, Vol. 326(7394) pp. S133.
  32. Walter, Joanne, Bayat, Ardeshir (2003): “Neurolinguistics programming: The keys to success.” BMJ: British Medical Journal. May, Vol. 326(7398) pp. 165-166.
  33. Young, Gordon (2004): “Hypnotically-facilitated Intervention of Epileptic Seizures: A Case Study.” Australian Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis Vol 25(1) Mar 2004, 1-11

Categories: NLP

About Andy

8 Responses to “You charge people money for this? Good grief.”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Barbara Howe says:

    It struck me when reading this ‘criticism’ of NLP that if it was simply ” due to providing someone with empathy, rapport, unconditional acceptance and the precious rare experience of being fully attended to”, it would not work when you use the technique on your own – and it does!

  2. Andy says:

    That is a great point! Damn, I wish I’d thought of that

    Thanks

  3. Since Andy posted this article, in addition to the “research” by Dillingham and Hogan, that he provides links for, I have been engaged in an ongoing study of the ALLEGED research into NLP that has been carried out by academics (and one or two other).
    The results, I’m afraid demonstrate a reckless disregard for accuracy on the part of many academics and researchers, manyu of who have simply piggy-backed on the articles and dissertations of others.
    A typical example of this can be found in reports on the process(es) used for determining a person’s “PRSs” (preferred representational system), one of the most frequently targeted NLP-related techniques.
    Bandler and Grinder give a very succent (39 words) description of how to do this in “The Structure of Magic II”, page 9. Yet I have found only one piece of research material where the author directly referred to this information. And even he then went off and invented his own “alternative” (invalid) approach. Of the rest (in over 70 articles, book sections, etc.) reviewed so far the authors who have looked into PRSs have claimed at least two methods are valid, a majority have cited three processes. And one managed to imagine four processes (though one was really only a variation on one of the first three).

    Two research papers which both grew out of PhD dissertations – by A. Hammer and B. Graunke and T. Roberts – started out trying the three process approach but then recognized that the “track and match” method was the only one that worked. Somehow or other neither Hammer nor Graunke (the original researcher) seem to have known anything about the Bandler and Grinder method and actually claimed that their results *rebutted* B&G’s claims!
    Incidentally, Graunke referred to Hammer’s article (1983) in his disertation (1984) so it is not clear whether he reached his findings completely independently or through (perfectly legitimately) testing Hammer’s work and findings.

    So overall, I guess we have plenty of cause to doubt L. Street’s credentials as a commentator on NLP or any aspect of the wider FoNLP (field of NLP – the NLP modelling technique, all genuinely related concepts and techniques, and valid training in any element(s) of the FoNLP (including training itself, as in trainer training).)

    The current set of 21 evaluations of NLP articles by academics can be found here:
    http://www.bradburyac.mistral.co.uk/nlpfax28.htm

  4. All I will mention is that I studied both NLP and CBT (the NICE-recommended model supported by zillions of RCTs) extensively, at a postgraduate level. In my clinical experince of using both therapeutic approaches in my work as a psychotherapist in NHS and in private practice, NLP encompasses and expands on pretty much everything that CBT does – plus does an awful lot more, and in the hands of a good therapist, appropriately trained and experienced (and sadly there is a lot of rubbish training out there), NLP gives more flexibility, more capacity for joining the client’s world safely and respectfully, and a more generative, rather than a remedial model for healing and personal development.

  5. Just one other point: NLP (if we’re talking about the package of concepts and techniques put together by Bandler, Grinder and Pucelik starting in the early 1970s) is NOT NOW, and NEVER HAS BEEN a form of therapy. Though various techniques can indeed be utilised in the context of a variety of therapies.

    This is NOT, I hasten to add, my personsal opinion (though I completely agree with it).

    During the period September 2010-February 2011 I spoke face-to-face with both Grinder and Pucelik (the latter being Bandler’s co-researcher during the initial development of the NLP modelling technique who then worked with Bandler and Grinder on the further development of various ideas and techniques through to 1978).
    Both men categorically assured me that there had never been any intention to create a orm of therapy; and Bandler confirmed this in an interview he did for BBC Radio4 in November 2010 in which he, too, very specifically stated that NLP had never been a form of therapy of self-improvement.

    What, then, IS NLP, you might ask. A very succinct description can be found on a US government “National Institutes of Health” website that has absolutely no links to any NLP-related company or organisation. See:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mesh?term=%22Neuro-linguistic%20Programming%22

  6. Andy says:

    Thanks Andy, it’s a good point, well made. I bet that NLP has been put to a great many more uses than the co-founders ever imagined.

    The description on the NIH Site is indeed a model of brevity and clarity – I wish I’d thought of it.

Leave a Reply

7steps3d-smallGet Free Updates

If you are enjoying what you are reading why not sign up for my free email newsletter which I send out monthly.

 

When you do I'll give you a  49 page ebook called “7 steps to more wellbeing” containing seven processes that you can use to feel better about yourself and life in general.

 

Click Here To Subscribe

 

I respect your privacy, your information will stay with me