In the early 1970s, Richard Bandler and John Grinder met whilst working at the University of California. Together they began a process of ‘modelling’ the skills and underlying mental processes of some outstanding therapists. These included Milton Erickson, the famous hypnotherapist, Virgin-a Satir, outstanding in the field of family and relationship therapy, Fritz Perls from the world of Gestalt and others. What they discovered were a number of similarities between all of these ‘experts’ in terms of underpinning beliefs, value sets and behaviours as well as some striking differences, all of which contributed to their success. When Richard and John replicated these in themselves, they discovered that they, too, were able to communicate at a far higher degree of effectiveness. Indeed, when they then taught their students these ‘patterns’ they found that the students, in turn, were also able to make fast and effective improvements.

And so began the process of developing a model that became known worldwide as NLP:

  • Neuro – because all behaviours are triggered at a neurological level
  • Linguistic – because the words we use indicate our programmes and can also be used to facilitate changes in those programs of we so choose
  • Programming – because that’s what we do throughout our lives. We generate ‘programmes’ at an unconscious level.

Thus, NLP is a model for facilitating ethical change in thinking, emotional response and behaviour across all areas of our lives.

I’ve had the privilege of working with, and facilitating, some outstanding people over the years and one of the contributing factors, from my end of the partnership, has been the combination of an effective coaching structure and process together with the powerful tools and language patterns from Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

Well, NLP may have started with the study of a group of therapists but it wasn’t very long before its applications across the full spectrum of life became very obvious. Leaders were able to communicate and motivate far better; sales people learned how to build ethical and effective relationships with clients and prospects; teachers and trainers began to realise the differences that could be made by adjusting language and behaviour to suit differing earning styles; health care professionals developed an awareness of the power of language in the healing process.

And COACHES saw the tremendous value of a wide-ranging and highly effective toolkit to add to their skill set.

So, how exactly CAN the use of NLP in a coaching environment help your clients?

Building Coaching Relationships

The relationship between the coach and client is the basis for success. Key elements are trust, openness, commitment and motivation. NLP helps at every step here by providing skills for developing relationships.

This includes verbal and non-verbal communication;

  • Ability to ‘read’ the other’s world-view from their language and physiology;
  • Language skills for building motivation and
  • Self-belief n the client.

Goal Setting

Without a goal to aim for, there is little a coach can do to help their client. In our NLP Coaching programmes, we teach how to set highly effective goals and also how to consider the impact of achieving those goals on every area of the client’s life – family, friends, work and even their community. We also use some outstanding effective techniques and tools for developing a strategy and plan that will help ensure success.


One of the biggest obstacles to a client’s success is usually their own mindset – beliefs that hold them back, attitudes developed over a lifetime and behavioural habits that can derail their success. Our NLP Coaching programmes teach how to use the wide range of patterns, techniques and language skills from NLP in a structured and ethical way in order to facilitate the client in making their own changes based on choice.

Specific Issues

Many clients come to coaching with a specific issue or problem that they want help in resolving. These can include:

  • Relationship issues
  • Unuseful habits that they want to change
  • Unuseful beliefs that hinder and even block progress
  • Managing unuseful emotional responses
  • Aversions and fears they may wish to resolve (for example, public speaking is one of the biggest fears worldwide and impacts on a huge number of professionals and their career prospects)
  • Self-motivation
  • Building self-confidence
  • Motivating others in the work place
  • Effective goal setting and planning

The list is extensive and NLP can help right across the board.

The key is to build a strong and effective partnership between the coaching process and the NLP. Participants in our NLP Executive Coaching programs learn how to create an effective ‘contract’ between themselves and the client; how to explore the real issues; to develop a coaching program that will work for the specific client’s needs; to operate an effective and structured process at each session and to use the NLP tool kit in an effective and ethical way.

Yes, one can use NLP outside of coaching and yes, one can use coaching without NLP. Together, they combine to create a powerful chemistry.

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