Is NLP Becoming Scientific?


Is NLP scientific? A pseudo-science? Non-sense? Anyone who has taken an NLP training would say that “non-sense” isn’t the answer. First of all because NLP is not as mysterious and exotic as it sounds, it is a toolbox full of techniques many master communicators, communication experts, motivational speakers, coaches, and therapists use. Many successful people naturally accumulated the tools naturally. Second of all, when a person has taken NLP training they will learn the usefulness as the results these tools bring in themselves as well as others.

Who Goes to NLP Training?

NLP training isn’t full of hippies and cooks. In my experience, people who train in NLP are people that can afford the expense of the training paired with the time and money investment to meet in Mexico, Los Angeles, Miami, Bali or Amsterdam. The students I train are respected community members, scientists, highly successful entrepreneurs, executives, coaches, teachers, etc.

Is NLP a Science or Pseudo-Science?

Scientists tend to study cross-sections of society. And when someone who has never taken NLP training wants to critique NLP using the word “science.” I always have to chuckle a little at how ill-informed those people are.

  1. It wasn’t until recently, well after NLP was created, that scientists became interested in happiness and success. Definitions of happiness are fairly new, as are those that measure love, hope, resilience, compassion, gratitude, etc. Until that time, more than 96 percent of all studies were about mental illness, anxiety, fear, depression, and sadness; NLP isn’t about any of these things.

2. Most scientific studies in the world of psychology are often done on less than 150 undergraduates. Many things we hold as fact and true for everyone were studied with less then 75 people under 25 years of age who are American, often white, and part of society able to go to college. A lot of us have very little in common with them.
Many scientific studies often rely on surveys,not blood tests, brain scans, heart rate, insulin levels. They only measure some things. The Bias and subjectivity of both the subject as well as the scientist are a real problem.

3. Something can not become science unless someone pays for the research to be done. No one ever paid for all tools of NLP to be researched. NLP is really as vast as an ocean as all of the world of psychology is.

4. A very successful or happy person is a dot above the median line, and therefore needs to be ignored. An anomaly, who would harm the scientists data making it less scientific. People in NLP are interested in that dot above the median line of “average” and dare I say “mediocrity.”

5. Psychological research until recently was paid for by the pharmaceutical industry who have a stake in us not becoming happy.

6. Scientists are interested in measuring things. And it wasn’t until after NLP was created that psychologists started to realize that their therapies indeed didn’t create mental resilience or mental health to never become mentally ill again. They could help someone function and travel out of ill-being. But they couldn’t push their clients on the right side of that middle line to achieve well-being. Slowly but surely, the science of positive psychology was created, emotional intelligence, personality typing, mindfulness and meditation. Alongside sports psychology, business psychology, organizational psychology, etc.

7. Recently the business world is willing to invest in the study of happiness, why? Because happy employees are more productive employees. They make more money, and cost less money. And this has come up with some very interesting discoveries.

Is (Global) NLP Training Scientific?

The irony is, that the world of positive psychology seems to be proving the people who have been using NLP were right. In fact, the overlap between NLP and positive psychology is often uncanny. However, they are not the same. Positive psychology does create positive interventions, but to an NLP Practitioner, these seem child’s play. I look at NLP as the practical application of positive psychology. What is exciting is that the world of positive psychology takes a more academic approach. An NLP Practitioner could learn a lot to become better, which requires them to embrace science, rather than NLP Practitioners immediately feeling attacked when the science question comes.

I aspire to bring both these worlds together, and though I am a provider of NLP training, I introduce the science of positive psychology on a continuous basis. I teach NLP integrated with social and emotional intelligence, and positive psychology.