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1. It’s said you have severe reservations about NLP. Please explain. Updated: 17/05/15
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) contains some very powerful therapeutic techniques indeed. And I use a number of these as first choice in tackling a therapy client’s problems. However, I do have severe reservations about NLP being presented, taught and used as if it is a complete and cohesive set of theories, models and techniques.
Firstly, it is theoretically weak. There is no unified or even connectionist set of theoretical underpinnings. In terms of theory, it is a ragbag of disjointed models which are not properly integrated. Put the vMEMES of the Gravesian approach at the core of NLP and most of it starts to make sense. Even then it ignores many facets of the human psyche covered in other schools of Psychology. This, unfortunately, does not stop many NLPers – including ‘guru’ figures who should know better – from claiming that NLP can be used to tackle any and every form of psychological problem. It can’t! For one thing, many NLP therapies require the client to enter a light trance. People who are low in suggestibility – ie: they have difficulty entering a hypnotic state – will struggle to engage with such a therapeutic process.
As for temperament, NLP has nothing to say about it. Since, according to the likes of Hans J Eysenck (1967) and Jerome Kagan (1984), temperament is basically at an instinctual, biological level pre-cognition, NLP techniques can’t be used effectively as there is no cognition involved to explore. NLP and Cognitive techniques can certainly be used to deal with schemas which have formed around temperament but temperament itself is best dealt with by Behaviourist conditioning.
The average NLPer, how ever well-intentioned, is, in my view, potentially dangerous. With little knowledge of Psychology beyond the 20 hours training they undertook to get their Practitioner certificate, they are all too often led to believe they have the tools to ‘cure’ major psychological problems. Not only will they have little clue as to the effects of temperament; but, without Gravesian insights, they will have little understanding of how motivation works. So techniques which are very potent in some respects but useless in others are in the employ of people who think they can solve anything and everything but have no understanding of the likely effects of their interventions on motivation and temperament. For example, say techniques were used to boost self-esteem – a common-enough (and quite honourable) aim for many NLPers. That would most likely be very life-enhancing for those high in Impulse Control and very much dominated by one or more of the Spiral’s ‘cool’ vMEMES. Achieve the same aim with someone who is high in Psychoticism and very much dominated by RED – and their ‘monster quotient’ would be substantially increased!
NLP has done a huge amount to enlighten our understanding of the human psyche with models such as Robert Dilts’ Neurological Levels (1990) and Michael Hall’s Meta-States (1995). And the therapies it endorses, when worked through with people at least reasonably high in suggestibility, can be incredibly powerful. My ‘beef’ is not with the content of NLP, which I see as adding much to Integrated SocioPsychology, but with the way NLP is presented, taught and so often used.
2. Were you expelled from the British Association of Counsellors & Psychotherapists?
Not exactly. I resigned, following a procedurally-abysmal, biased and inaccurate disciplinary hearing. I had made some errors – for which I apologised profusely – but the errors were on nothing like the scale the BACP contended they were. When I complained to the seniormost management of the BACP about the blatantly corrupt manner in which the hearing was conducted, they refused repeatedly to give consideration to my complaints. I was told me I would have to comply with the sanctions imposed upon me or my membership would be terminated. I elected to resign, wanting nothing more to do with such a corrupt organisation.
The whole sorry story can be found here. It doesn’t reflect well on me. It reflects a whole lot worse on the BACP.