Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP, provides practical ways in which you can change the way that you think, view past events, and approach your life.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming shows you how to take control of your mind, and therefore your life. Unlike psychoanalysis, which focuses on the ‘why’, NLP is very practical and focuses on the ‘how’.
Taking Control of Your Mind: The Principle Behind NLP
NLP works from the starting point that you may not control much in your life, but that you can always take control of what goes on in your head.
Your thoughts, feelings and emotions are not things that are, or that you have, but things that you do. Their causes can often be very complicated, involving, for instance, comments or beliefs from your parents or teachers, or events that you have experienced.
NLP shows you how you can take control of these beliefs and influences. Using mind techniques such as visualisation, you can change the way that you think and feel about past events, fears and even phobias.
You can’t always control what happens, but you can always control how you deal with it
Richard Bandler, Alessio Roberti and Owen Fitzpatrick, How to Take Charge of Your Life: The User’s Guide to NLP
The Power of Belief
What you believe can be extremely powerful.
If you believe you’re ill and that you’re going to die, you probably will: witch doctors have been using this technique for centuries.
Likewise, if you believe that you have been given something that will make you better, you often do get better. This ‘placebo effect’ is well-documented in clinical trials.
What this boils down to is that if you believe you can do something, you probably can. But you can also challenge limiting beliefs, and change whether you believe you can do something by asking yourself questions like:
How do I know I can’t do that?
Who said that to me? Might they have been wrong?
We’re all familiar with the principles of goal-setting, but NLP suggests some interesting new insights, focusing on satisfaction, not dissatisfaction.
For example, it’s helpful to make your goals positive; focus on what you want to have, not what you’d like to lose or not have. You should also think about what it is that you really want. For example, you don’t actually want to buy your dream house, you want to live in it. It’s much easier to get motivated about a goal that really satisfies you.
The Power of Questions
Bandler suggests that our minds actively look for answers to questions.
So if you ask yourself ‘Why do I feel so bad?’, your mind will find lots of answers and you will feel worse. With NLP the key is to ask the right questions, for example:
Why do I want to change?
What will life be like when I have changed?
What do I need to do more/less of in order to change?
Questions like these naturally lead to a more positive outlook.
Some Tools and Techniques from NLP
There are many tools and techniques used in NLP and this section gives a brief introduction to a few.
To find out more, you could go on a reputable NLP course, or read one of Richard Bandler’s books.
The idea behind this thought process is that it helps you see how people or events affect you and understand the way you feel about them.
By manipulating images in this way, you are teaching your brain to magnify good feelings and make bad feelings weaker.
Undermining the Critical Voice
Many of us will admit to having a critical voice in our heads that pops up at inopportune moments and says things like ‘You couldn’t possibly do that’, or ‘That sounds way too difficult for someone like you’.
If the voice no longer sounds like someone real, it’s much easier to silence it.
Running the Movie Backwards
If you’ve had a bad experience that you’re struggling to get over, it can help to imagine it backwards.
The key to this technique is that you are showing your brain a different way of looking at a memory, which will change the way that you feel about it too.
The ‘trick’ here is that you have trained your mind to associate an image with a feeling. By conjuring up the image, you can now conjure up the feeling too.
NLP is a very powerful technique based on the power of your own mind. Some might call it ‘mind tricks’ but, by using these techniques and others developed by NLP practitioners, you can learn to take control of your mind and how you respond to the world.
You may not be able to control the world, but you can control how you react to it.
Some things in your life have to be memorized. Facts, formulas, words, pictures, dates, procedures, even names and faces. Everything you do includes information that needs to reside in your head. Studies can help with that.
Studies is a flashcard app for the serious student, with editions for Mac®, iPhone® and iPad®. It’s a tool to extend your knowledge, and it doesn’t matter what it is you want to learn — medicine, law, history, driving, aviation, fine art, music, or martial arts — from simple day-to-day tidbits, to knowledge of life changing importance. Studies is an app to help you achieve your learning goals.
To get started, download the iPhone/iPad app, or download the free trial for Mac.
Also Available on Setapp
Studies allows you to turn the information you need to learn into study notes, similar to traditional flashcards, but much more powerful. Notes can include as many sides as you like, each of which can contain text, images, audio, and even video. Creating your own flashcards, or importing cards from others, is as easy as can be.
Due for Study
Studies includes scientifically-based learning schedules designed to make the time you spend studying as efficient as possible. Set a schedule based on your goals, from long-term learning to cramming for an exam, and Studies will automatically make notes due for study each day.
“Everyone’s a student. A student of Spanish, a student of Physics, a student of Medicine, Law, a student of Art, a student of Nature…of People and Places, student of Comedy, of Theatre, a student of Flight, a student of Love, a student of Life. Everyone’s a student.”
Once you have a set of notes prepared, you can study them in beautifully presented study sessions, which make studying less of a chore. Grade yourself as you go, and studies will ensure the ones you don’t know very well will reappear more often in future sessions.
Everything you study is tracked by Studies. This information is used to schedule notes for future study, but also to provide statistics and predictions on how well you know the material. You can not only see how many notes you graded right or wrong, but you also have access to estimates of how long you will remember what you are studying.
Many of us now carry multiple Apple devices, and having your data silo-ed on one device is a drag. Studies includes iCloud® sync using the latest CloudKit® technology from Apple. Add notes on your desktop Mac, and they will appear on your iPhone or iPad when you come to study them later. Even your study sessions are synced, so you can start on one device, and finish on another. You can even choose what you want to sync.
Mental case migration
Studies is the next generation of the app Mental Case. If you have been using Mental Case on your Mac, iPhone or iPad, you can get a 30% discount by downloading Studies from this web site, and using the coupon MCUPGRADE (not available in Mac App Store).
Once Studies is installed, you can migrate all of your data, including the study history and scheduling, when you first launch. You should even find your data takes up much less space in Studies than it did in Mental Case.
Studies has a multitude of different file formats to share your study notes with others. You can export an archive that can be imported into Studies (or Mental Case) on another device. You can also import and export standard text formats like CSV and TSV, which are supported by many flashcard web sites.
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Mental illnesses are conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Such conditions may be occasional or long-lasting (chronic) and affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day.
What is mental health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.1 Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same things. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.
Why is mental health important for overall health?
Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. Mental illness, especially depression, increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.2
Can your mental health change over time?
Yes, it’s important to remember that a person’s mental health can change over time, depending on many factors. When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, their mental health could be impacted. For example, if someone is working long hours,Cdc-pdf caring for an ill relative or experiencing economic hardship they may experience poor mental health.
How common are mental illnesses?
Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States.
More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.3
1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.4
1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness.5
1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.6
What causes mental illness?
There is no single cause for mental illness. A number of factors can contribute to risk for mental illness, such as
Early adverse life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse (for example, child abuse, sexual assault, witnessing violence, etc.)
Experiences related to other ongoing (chronic) medical conditionCdc-pdf, such as cancer or diabetes.
Biological factors, such as genes or chemical imbalances in the brain
Use of alcohol or recreational drugs
Having few friends
Having feeling of loneliness or isolation
People can experience different types of mental illnesses or disorders, and they can often occur at the same time. Mental illnesses can occur over a short period of time or be episodic. This means that the mental illness comes and goes with discrete beginnings and ends. Mental illness can also be ongoing or long-lasting.
There are more than 200 classifiedExternal types of mental illness. Some of the main types of mental illness and disorders are listed below; however, this list is not exhaustive.
People with anxiety disorders respond to certain objects or situations with fear and dread or terror. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorders, and phobias.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood mental disorders. It can continue through adolescence and adulthood. People diagnosed with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.
Disruptive Behavioral Disorders
Behavioral disorders involve a pattern of disruptive behaviors in children that last for at least 6 months and cause problems in school, at home, and in social situations. Behavioral symptoms can also continue into adulthood.
Depression and Other Mood Disorders
While bad moods are common, and usually pass in a short period, people suffering from mood disorders live with more constant and severe symptoms. People living with this mental illness find that their mood impacts both mental and psychological well-being, nearly every day, and often for much of the day.
It is estimated that 1 in 10 adults suffer from some type of mood disorder, with the most common conditions being depression and bipolar disorder. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most of those living with mood disorders lead healthy, normal and productive lives. If left untreated, this illness can affect role functioning, quality of life and many long-lasting physical health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
Eating disorders involve obsessive and sometimes distressing thoughts and behaviors, including
Reduction of food intake
Feelings of depression or distress
Concern about weight, body shape, poor self-image
Common types of eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.
People with personality disorders have extreme and inflexible personality traits that cause problems in work, school, or social relationships. Personality disorders include antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
A person can get PTSD after living through or seeing a traumatic event, such as war, a hurricane, physical abuse, or a serious accident. PTSD can make someone feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over. People with PTSD may experience symptoms like reliving the event over and over, sleep problems, become very upset if something causes memories of the event, constantly looking for possible threats, and changes in emotions like irritability, outbursts, helplessness, or feelings of numbness.
Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders
People with psychotic disorders hear, see, and believe things that aren’t real or true. They may also show signs of disorganized thinking, confused speech, and muddled or abnormal motor behavior. An example of a psychotic disorder is schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia may also have low motivation and blunted emotions.
Substance Use Disorders
Substance use disorders occur when frequent or repeated use of alcohol and/or drugs causes significant impairment, such as health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home. Substance use problems can be fatal to the user or others. Examples include drunk driving fatalities and drug overdoses.
Mental illnesses and substance use disorders often occur together. Sometimes one disorder can be a contributing factor to or can make the other worse. Sometimes they simply occur at the same time.
Mental Illness and Adults
In 2015, there were an estimated 43.4 million adults –about 1 in 5 Americans aged 18 or older – with a mental illness within the previous year.6
In 2015, there were an estimated 9.8 million adults – about 1 in 25 Americans aged 18 or older – with serious mental illness. “Serious mental illness” is defined as individuals experiencing within the past year a mental illness or disorder with serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.6
Mental Illness and Children and Teens
Just over 20% – or 1 in 5 – children, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.7
Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14 and three-quarters begin by age 24.8
Number of visits to physician offices with mental disorders as the primary diagnosis: 65.9 million.9
In 2015, 75% of children aged 4 to 17 received treatment for their mental disorders within the past year.10
Impact of Mental Illness
Suicide, which is often associated with symptoms of mental illness, is the 10th leading cause of death the U.S. and the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 15-34.9
Serious mental illness costs in the United States amount to $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.11
Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the United States. for both youth and adults aged 18 to 44.23
Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of physical health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS).13
U.S. adults living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.14
Mental Health Promotion and Prevention
Preventing mental illness and promoting good mental health involves actions to create living conditions and environments that support mental health and allow people to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles. These include a range of actions to increase the chances of more people experiencing better mental health, such as15
Early childhood interventions (for example, home visits for pregnant women and programs that help young children build social and emotional skills).
Social support for elderly persons.
Programs targeted to people affected by disasters or other traumatic events.
Mental health interventions at work (for example, stress prevention programs).
Violence prevention strategies (for example, reducing violence in the community and the home).
Campaigns to change the culture of mental health so that all of those in need receive the care and support they deserve.
Li was an 18-year-old high school student. He had always been an average student, hardworking and honest. Recently, however, his mother had noticed that Li had been staying out till late at night, his schoolgrades had been falling, and he was spending more money. The previous week, his mother noticed that some money was missing from her purse.She was worried that Li might have stolen it. She had also noticed that Li was spending less time with his old friends and family, and seemed to be hanging around with a new group of friends, whom he did not introduce tohis parents. His mother had suggested to him that he should see acounsellor, but he refused. The health worker decided to visit Li at home.Li was very reluctant to discuss anything at first. However, as he became more trusting of the health worker, he admitted that he had been using heroin regularly for several months, and now he was ‘hooked’. He had tried to stop on many occasions, but each time he felt so sick that he just went back to the drug. He said he wanted help but did not know where to turn.
What’s the problem? Li had become dependent on heroin. Because of his dependence, his school performance had suffered and he had been seeing new friends who also use drugs. He had been stealing things topay for the drug.
Free Mental Health Case Study: Case 2
Ismail was a 25-year-old college student who was brought by past year and had started locking himself in his room. Ismail used to be a good student but had failed his last exams. His mother said that hewould often spend hours staring into space. Sometimes he muttered to himself as if he were talking to an imaginary person. Ismail had tobe forced to come to the clinic by his parents. At first, he refused totalk to the nurse. After a while he admitted that he believed that hisparents and neighbours were plotting to kill him and that the Devil was interfering with his mind. He said he could hear his neighbourstalk about him and say nasty things outside his door. He said he felt asif he had been possessed, but did not see why he should come to the clinic since he was not ill.
What’s the problem? Ismail was suffering from a severe mental disorder called schizophrenia. This made him hear voices and imagine things that were not true.
Free Mental Health Case Study: Case 3
Maria was a 31-year-old who has been brought to the clinic by her husband because she had started behaving in an unusual manner a week previously. She was sleeping much less than usual and was constantly on the move. Maria had stopped looking after the house and children as efficiently as before. She was talking much more thannormal and often said things that were unreal and grand. For example,she had been saying that she could heal other people and that she came from a very wealthy family (even though her husband was a factory worker). She had also been spending more money on clothesand cosmetics than was normal for her. When Maria’s husband tried to bring her to the clinic, she became very angry and tried to hit him.Finally, his neighbours had helped him to force her to come.
What’s the problem? Maria was suffering from a severe mental disorder called mania. This made her believe grand things and made her irritable when her husband tried to bring her to the clinic.
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Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) therapy incorporates NLP, a set of language- and sensory-based interventions and behavior-modification techniques intended to help improve the client’s self-awareness, confidence, communication skills, and social actions. The goals of NLP are to help the client understand that the way one views the world affects how one operates in the world, and that it is necessary to change the thoughts and behavior patterns that have not proven beneficial in the past. However, empirical evidence of the efficacy of NLP is limited.
When It’s Used
NLP has been used to treat fears and phobias, anxiety, poor self-esteem, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and overall reduced quality of life due to various psychological issues. Most studies addressing the effectiveness of NLP in treating these issues have been small in scale and have had mixed results.
What to Expect
An NLP therapist may use a variety of techniques such as visualization, or forming a mental image of something the client wants want, as well as visual-kinesthetic dissociation, a process by which the therapist guides the client in reliving trauma from the distance of an imaginative, out-of-body experience. The therapist may seek to help correct language that leads to negative thinking and faulty communication. NLP therapy can be short-term or long-term, depending on the individual and the extent of the problem.
How It Works
NLP is intended to help clients understand their own minds, how they came to think and behave the way they do, and to learn to manage their moods and emotions and reprogram the way they process information so that it leads to more acceptable and successful behavior. At the same time, NLP is designed to help clients see ways they have been successful in the past and determine how they can most easily and efficiently repeat that success in other areas of their lives. NLP therapists believe that their clients have the answers to their problems within themselves; it is simply a matter of helping them draw out those answers.
What to Look for in a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Therapist
An NLP therapist is a licensed mental health professional, social worker, or therapist with additional training in NLP interventions and techniques through workshops and mentorship programs. In addition to checking credentials and experience, you should feel safe and comfortable working with any NLP therapist you choose.
Hypnosis, also referred to as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, is a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus and concentration. Hypnosis is usually done with the help of a therapist using verbal repetition and mental images. When you’re under hypnosis, you usually feel calm and relaxed, and are more open to suggestions.
Hypnosis can be used to help you gain control over undesired behaviors or to help you cope better with anxiety or pain. It’s important to know that although you’re more open to suggestion during hypnosis, you don’t lose control over your behavior.
Products & Services
Book: Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, 5th Edition
Why it’s done
Hypnotherapy can be an effective method for coping with stress and anxiety. In particular, hypnosis can reduce stress and anxiety before a medical procedure, such as a breast biopsy.
Hypnosis has been studied for other conditions, including:
Pain control. Hypnosis may help with pain due to burns, cancer, childbirth, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint problems, dental procedures and headaches.
Hot flashes. Hypnosis may relieve symptoms of hot flashes associated with menopause.
Behavior change. Hypnosis has been used with some success in the treatment of insomnia, bed-wetting, smoking, and overeating.
Cancer treatment side effects. Hypnosis has been used to ease side effects related to chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Mental health conditions. Hypnosis may help treat symptoms of anxiety, phobias and post-traumatic stress.
Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic
Hypnosis conducted by a trained therapist or health care professional is considered a safe, complementary and alternative medical treatment. However, hypnosis may not be appropriate in people with severe mental illness.
Adverse reactions to hypnosis are rare, but may include:
Anxiety or distress
Creation of false memories
Be cautious when hypnosis is proposed as a method to work through stressful events from earlier in life. This practice may cause strong emotions and can risk the creation of false memories.
How you prepare
You don’t need any special preparation to undergo hypnosis. But it’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothing to help you relax. Also, make sure that you’re well-rested so that you’re not inclined to fall asleep during the session.
Choose a therapist or health care professional who is certified to perform hypnosis. Seek a recommendation from someone you trust. Learn about any therapist you’re considering. Start by asking questions:
Do you have training in a field such as psychology, medicine, social work or dentistry?
Are you licensed in your specialty in this state?
Where did you go to school, and where did you do your postgraduate training?
How much training have you had in hypnotherapy and from what schools?
What professional organizations do you belong to?
How long have you been in practice?
What are your fees, and does insurance cover your services?
What you can expect
Your therapist will explain the process of hypnosis and review your treatment goals. Then the therapist will typically talk in a gentle, soothing tone and describe images that create a sense of relaxation, security and well-being.
When you’re in a receptive state, the therapist will suggest ways for you to achieve your goals, such as reducing pain or eliminating cravings to smoke. The therapist may also help you visualize vivid, meaningful mental images of yourself accomplishing your goals.
When the session is over, either you are able to bring yourself out of hypnosis or your therapist helps you end your state of relaxation.
Contrary to how hypnosis is sometimes portrayed in movies or on television, you don’t lose control over your behavior while under hypnosis. Also, you generally remain aware of and remember what happens during hypnosis.
You may eventually be able to practice self-hypnosis, in which you induce a state of hypnosis in yourself. You can use this skill as needed — for instance, after a chemotherapy session.
While hypnosis can be effective in helping people cope with pain, stress and anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy is considered the first line treatment for these conditions. Hypnosis may also be used as part of a comprehensive program for quitting smoking or losing weight.
Hypnosis isn’t right for everyone, though. For example, you may not be able to enter a state of hypnosis fully enough to make it effective. Some therapists believe that the more likely you are to be hypnotized, the more likely it is that you’ll benefit from hypnosis.
Most forms of meditation are meant to decrease distractibility and promote focus on and enjoyment of the present moment. Like many forms of meditation, requires that one turn attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase, known as a mantra. Successful meditation takes into account both internal and physical states:
This is a guidebook to the many different styles of meditation, the various benefits of each practice, plus free guided audio practices that help you learn how to meditate.
How do you learn to meditate? In mindfulness meditation, we’re learning how to pay attention to the breath as it goes in and out, and notice when the mind wanders from this task. This practice of returning to the breath builds the muscles of attention and mindfulness.
When we pay attention to our breath, we are learning how to return to, and remain in, the present moment—to anchor ourselves in the here and now on purpose, without judgement.
In mindfulness practice, we are learning how to return to, and remain in, the present moment—to anchor ourselves in the here and now on purpose, without judgement.
The idea behind mindfulness seems simple—the practice takes patience. Indeed, renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg recounts that her first experience with meditation showed her how quickly the mind gets caught up in other tasks. “I thought, okay, what will it be, like, 800 breaths before my mind starts to wander? And to my absolute amazement, it was one breath, and I’d be gone,” says Salzberg.
While meditation isn’t a cure-all, it can certainly provide some much-needed space in your life. Sometimes, that’s all we need to make better choices for ourselves, our families, and our communities. And the most important tools you can bring with you to your meditation practice are a little patience, some kindness for yourself, and a comfortable place to sit.
The first thing to clarify: What we’re doing here is aiming for mindfulness, not some process that magically wipes your mind clear of the countless and endless thoughts that erupt and ping constantly in our brains. We’re just practicing bringing our attention to our breath, and then back to the breath when we notice our attention has wandered.
Get comfortable and prepare to sit still for a few minutes. After you stop reading this, you’re going to simply focus on your own natural inhaling and exhaling of breath.
Focus on your breath. Where do you feel your breath most? In your belly? In your nose? Try to keep your attention on your inhale and exhale.
Follow your breath for two minutes. Take a deep inhale, expanding your belly, and then exhale slowly, elongating the out-breath as your belly contracts.
Welcome back. What happened? How long was it before your mind wandered away from your breath? Did you notice how busy your mind was even without consciously directing it to think about anything in particular? Did you notice yourself getting caught up in thoughts before you came back to reading this? We often have little narratives running in our minds that we didn’t choose to put there, like: “Why DOES my boss want to meet with me tomorrow?” “I should have gone to the gym yesterday.” “I’ve got to pay some bills” or (the classic) “I don’t have time to sit still, I’ve got stuff to do.”
We “practice” mindfulness so we can learn how to recognize when our minds are doing their normal everyday acrobatics, and maybe take a pause from that for just a little while so we can choose what we’d like to focus on.
If you experienced these sorts of distractions (and we all do), you’ve made an important discovery: simply put, that’s the opposite of mindfulness. It’s when we live in our heads, on automatic pilot, letting our thoughts go here and there, exploring, say, the future or the past, and essentially, not being present in the moment. But that’s where most of us live most of the time—and pretty uncomfortably, if we’re being honest, right? But it doesn’t have to be that way.
We “practice” mindfulness so we can learn how to recognize when our minds are doing their normal everyday acrobatics, and maybe take a pause from that for just a little while so we can choose what we’d like to focus on. In a nutshell, meditation helps us have a much healthier relationship with ourselves (and, by extension, with others).
When we meditate, we inject far-reaching and long-lasting benefits into our lives. And bonus: you don’t need any extra gear or an expensive membership.
Here are five reasons to meditate:
1: Understand your pain 2: Lower your stress 3: Connect better 4: Improve focus 5: Reduce brain chatter
Meditation is simpler (and harder) than most people think. Read these steps, make sure you’re somewhere where you can relax into this process, set a timer, and give it a shot:
1) Take a seat
Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
2) Set a time limit
If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as five or 10 minutes.
3) Notice your body
You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
4) Feel your breath
Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out.
5) Notice when your mind has wandered
Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.
6) Be kind to your wandering mind
Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.
7) Close with kindness
When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
That’s it! That’s the practice. You go away, you come back, and you try to do it as kindly as possible.
Meditation 101: The Basics
Try this 3-part guided audio series from Barry Boyce:
How long would you like to meditate? Sometimes we only have time for a quick check-in, sometimes we can dip in a little longer. Meditating every day helps build awareness, fosters resilience, and lowers stress. Try to make meditation a habit by practicing with these short meditations from our Editor-in-Chief Barry Boyce. Find time to sit once a day for one month and see what you notice.
A short practice for settling the mind, intended for doing in the middle of the day, wherever you are out in the world.
A longer practice that explores meditation posture, breathing techniques, and working with thoughts and emotions as they surface during mindfulness practice.
A practice that explores sitting in formal meditation for longer periods of time.
Try this free sample of our How to Meditate Course: Making Mindfulness a Habit—with Dr. Elisha Goldstein.
Free Sample of How to Meditate Course
How to Make Mindfulness a Habit
It’s estimated that 95% of our behavior runs on autopilot. That’s because neural networks underlie all of our habits, reducing our millions of sensory inputs per second into manageable shortcuts so we can function in this crazy world. These default brain signals are so efficient that they often cause us to relapse into old behaviors before we remember what we meant to do instead.
Mindfulness is the exact opposite of these default processes. It’s executive control rather than autopilot, and enables intentional actions, willpower, and decisions. But that takes practice. The more we activate the intentional brain, the stronger it gets. Every time we do something deliberate and new, we stimulate neuroplasticity, activating our grey matter, which is full of newly sprouted neurons that have not yet been groomed for “autopilot” brain.
But here’s the problem: While our intentional brain knows what is best for us, our autopilot brain causes us to shortcut our way through life. So how can we trigger ourselves to be mindful when we need it most? This is where the notion of “behavior design” comes in. It’s a way to put your intentional brain in the driver’s seat. There are two ways to do that—first, slowing down the autopilot brain by putting obstacles in its way, and second, removing obstacles in the path of the intentional brain, so it can gain control.
Shifting the balance to give your intentional brain more power takes some work, though. Here are some ways to get started.
Put meditation reminders around you. If you intend to do some yoga or to meditate, put your yoga mat or your meditation cushion in the middle of your floor so you can’t miss it as you walk by.
Refresh your reminders regularly. Say you decide to use sticky notes to remind yourself of a new intention. That might work for about a week, but then your autopilot brain and old habits take over again. Try writing new notes to yourself; add variety or make them funny. That way they’ll stick with you longer.
Create new patterns. You could try a series of “If this, then that” messages to create easy reminders to shift into the intentional brain. For instance, you might come up with, “If office door, then deep breath,” as a way to shift into mindfulness as you are about to start your workday. Or, “If phone rings, take a breath before answering.” Each intentional action to shift into mindfulness will strengthen your intentional brain.
More Styles of Mindfulness Meditation
Once you have explored a basic seated meditation practice, you might want to consider other forms of meditation including walking and lying down. Whereas the previous meditations used the breath as a focal point for practice, these meditations below focus on different parts of the body.
Introduction to the Body Scan Meditation
Try this: feel your feet on the ground right now. In your shoes or without, it doesn’t matter. Then track or scan over your whole body, bit by bit—slowly—all the way up to the crown of your head. The point of this practice is to check in with your whole body: Fingertips to shoulders, butt to big toe. Only rules are: No judging, no wondering, no worrying (all activities your mind may want to do); just check in with the physical feeling of being in your body. Aches and pains are fine. You don’t have to do anything about anything here. You’re just noticing.
A brief body awareness practice for tuning in to sensations, head-to-toe.
Begin to focus your attention on different parts of your body. You can spotlight one particular area or go through a sequence like this: toes, feet (sole, heel, top of foot), through the legs, pelvis, abdomen, lower back, upper back, chest shoulders, arms down to the fingers, shoulders, neck, different parts of the face, and head. For each part of the body, linger for a few moments and notice the different sensations as you focus.
The moment you notice that your mind has wandered, return your attention to the part of the body you last remember.
If you fall asleep during this body-scan practice, that’s okay. When you realize you’ve been nodding off, take a deep breath to help you reawaken and perhaps reposition your body (which will also help wake it up). When you’re ready, return your attention to the part of the body you last remember focusing on.
Introduction to the Walking Meditation
Fact: Most of us live pretty sedentary lives, leaving us to build extra-curricular physical activity into our days to counteract all that. Point is: Mindfulness doesn’t have to feel like another thing on your to-do list. It can be injected into some of the activities you’re already doing. Here’s how to integrate a mindful walking practice into your day.
A mindful movement practice for bringing awareness to what we feel with each step.
As you begin, walk at a natural pace. Place your hands wherever comfortable: on your belly, behind your back, or at your sides.
If you find it useful, you can count steps up to 10, and then start back at one again. If you’re in a small space, as you reach ten, pause, and with intention, choose a moment to turn around.
With each step, pay attention to the lifting and falling of your foot. Notice movement in your legs and the rest of your body. Notice any shifting of your body from side to side.
Whatever else captures your attention, come back to the sensation of walking. Your mind will wander, so without frustration, guide it back again as many times as you need.
Particularly outdoors, maintain a larger sense of the environment around you, taking it all in, staying safe and aware.
Introduction to Loving-Kindness Meditation
You cannot will yourself into particular feelings toward yourself or anyone else. Rather, you can practice reminding yourself that you deserve happiness and ease and that the same goes for your child, your family, your friends, your neighbors, and everyone else in the world.
Explore this practice to extend compassion to yourself, those around you, and the larger world.
This loving-kindness practice involves silently repeating phrases that offer good qualities to oneself and to others.
You can start by taking delight in your own goodness—calling to mind things you have done out of good-heartedness, and rejoicing in those memories to celebrate the potential for goodness we all share.
Silently recite phrases that reflect what we wish most deeply for ourselves in an enduring way. Traditional phrases are: • May I live in safety. • May I have mental happiness (peace, joy). • May I have physical happiness (health, freedom from pain). • May I live with ease.
Repeat the phrases with enough space and silence between so they fall into a rhythm that is pleasing to you. Direct your attention to one phrase at a time.
Each time you notice your attention has wandered, be kind to yourself and let go of the distraction. Come back to repeating the phrases without judging or disparaging yourself.
After some time, visualize yourself in the center of a circle composed of those who have been kind to you, or have inspired you because of their love. Perhaps you’ve met them, or read about them; perhaps they live now, or have existed historically or even mythically. That is the circle. As you visualize yourself in the center of it, experience yourself as the recipient of their love and attention. Keep gently repeating the phrases of loving-kindness for yourself.
To close the session, let go of the visualization, and simply keep repeating the phrases for a few more minutes. Each time you do so, you are transforming your old, hurtful relationship to yourself, and are moving forward, sustained by the force of kindness.
A practice for difficult emotions, RAIN is an acronym for Recognition of what is going on; Acceptance of the experience, just as it is; Interest in what is happening; and Nurture with loving presence.
Explore this practice to let go of the tendency to add to our suffering during challenging situations.
Common Questions About Mindfulness Meditation Answered
When you’re new to meditation, it’s natural for questions to pop up often. These answers may ease your mind.
1) If I have an itch, can I scratch it? Yes—however, first try scratching it with your mind before using your fingers.
2) Should I breathe fast or slow or in between? Only worry if you’ve stopped breathing. Otherwise, you’re doing fine. Breath in whatever way feels comfortable to you.
3) Should my eyes be open or closed? No hard-and-fast rules. Try both. If open, not too wide, and with a soft, slightly downward gaze, not focusing on anything in particular. If closed, not too hard, and not imagining anything in particular in your mind’s eye.
4) Is it possible I’m someone who just CANNOT meditate? When you find yourself asking that question, your meditation has officially begun. Everyone wonders that. Notice it. Escort your attention back to your object of focus (the breath). When you’re lost and questioning again, come back to the breathe again. That’s the practice. There’s no limit to the number of times you can be distracted and come back to the breath. Meditating is not a race to perfection—It’s returning again and again to the breath.
5) Is it better to practice in a group or by myself? Both are great! It’s enormously supportive to meditate with others. And, practicing on your own builds discipline.
6) What’s the best time of day to meditate? Whatever works. Consider your circumstances: children, pets, work. Experiment. But watch out. If you always choose the most convenient time, it will usually be tomorrow.
7) What if I get sexually (and physically) aroused by thoughts in my head? No big deal. Meditation stokes the imagination. In time, every thought and sensation will pop up (so to speak). And come back. Same old story. Release the thought, bring awareness and receptivity to body sensations, bring attention back to your chosen object (the breath, in this case). Repeat.
8) Do you have any tips on integrating pets into meditation practice? While meditating, we don’t have to fight off distractions like a knight slaying dragons. If your dog or cat comes into the room and barks and meows and brushes up against you or settles down on a part of your cushion, no big deal. Let it be. What works less well is to interrupt your session to relate to them. If that’s what’s going to happen, try to find a way to avoid their interrupting your practice.
Meditation is no more complicated than what we’ve described above. It is that simple … and that challenging. It’s also powerful and worth it. The key is to commit to sit every day, even if it’s for five minutes. Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg says: “One of my meditation teachers said that the most important moment in your meditation practice is the moment you sit down to do it. Because right then you’re saying to yourself that you believe in change, you believe in caring for yourself, and you’re making it real. You’re not just holding some value like mindfulness or compassion in the abstract, but really making it real.”
Mindful has many resources to help you live a more mindful life and tap into the best of who you are:
Mental health refers to your emotional and psychological well-being. Having good mental health helps you lead a relatively happy and healthy life. It helps you demonstrate resilience and the ability to cope in the face of life’s adversities.
Your mental health can be influenced by a variety of factors, including life events or even your genetics.
There are many strategies that can help you establish and keep good mental health. These can include:
keeping a positive attitude
staying physically active
helping other people
getting enough sleep
eating a healthy diet
asking for professional help with your mental health if you need it
socializing with people whom you enjoy spending time with
forming and using effective coping skills to deal with your problems
A mental illness is a broad term which encompasses a wide variety of conditions which affect the way you feel and think. It can also affect your ability to get through day-to-day life. Mental illnesses can be influenced by several different factors, including:
Mental health issues are common in the United States. About one in five American adults experience at least one mental illness each year. And around one in five young people ages 13 to 18 experience a mental illness at some point in their lives, too.
Although mental illnesses are common, they vary in severity. About one in 25 adults experience a serious mental illness (SMI) each year. A SMI can significantly reduce your ability to carry out daily life. Different groups of people experience SMIs at different rates.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, women are more likely to experience SMI than men. Those ages 18 to 25 are most likely to experience an SMI. People with a mixed-race background are also more likely to experience an SMI than people of other ethnicities.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) helps mental health professionals diagnose mental illnesses. There are many types of mental health disorders. In fact, almost 300 different conditions are listed in DSM-5.
These are some of the most common mental illnesses affecting people in the United States:
Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness that affects about 2.6 percent of Americans each year. It is characterized by episodes of energetic, manic highs and extreme, sometimes depressive lows.
These can affect a person’s energy level and ability to think reasonably. Mood swings caused by bipolar disorder are much more severe than the small ups and downs most people experience on a daily basis.
Persistent depressive disorder
Persistent depressive disorder is a chronic type of depression. It is also known as dysthymia. While dysthymic depression isn’t intense, it can interfere with daily life. People with this condition experience symptoms for at least two years.
About 1.5 percent of American adults experience dysthymia each year.
Generalized anxiety disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) goes beyond regular everyday anxiety, like being nervous before a presentation. It causes a person to become extremely worried about many things, even when there’s little or no reason to worry.
Those with GAD may feel very nervous about getting through the day. They may think things won’t ever work in their favor. Sometimes worrying can keep people with GAD from accomplishing everyday tasks and chores. GAD affects about 3 percent of Americans every year.
Major depressive disorder
Major depressive disorder (MDD) causes feelings of extreme sadness or hopelessness that lasts for at least two weeks. This condition is also called also called clinical depression.
People with MDD may become so upset about their lives that they think about or try to commit suicide. About 7 percent of Americans experience at least one major depressive episode each year.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) causes constant and repetitive thoughts, or obsessions. These thoughts happen with unnecessary and unreasonable desires to carry out certain behaviors, or compulsions.
Many people with OCD realize that their thoughts and actions are unreasonable, yet they cannot stop them. More than 2 percent of Americans are diagnosed with OCD at some point in their lifetime.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that’s triggered after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Experiences that can cause PTSD can range from extreme events, like war and national disasters, to verbal or physical abuse.
Symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks or being easily startled. It’s estimated that 3.5 percent of American adults experience PTSD.
Schizophrenia impairs a person’s perception of reality and the world around them. It interferes with their connection to other people. It’s a serious condition that needs treatment.
They might experience hallucinations, have delusions, and hear voices. These can potentially put them in a dangerous situation if left untreated. It’s estimated that 1 percent of the American population experiences schizophrenia.
Social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder, sometimes called social phobia, causes an extreme fear of social situations. People with social anxiety may become very nervous about being around other people. They may feel like they’re being judged.
This can make it hard to meet new people and attend social gatherings. Approximately 15 million adults in the United States experience social anxiety each year.
The symptoms of many mental illnesses may get worse if they’re left untreated. Reach out for psychological help if you or someone you know may have a mental illness.
If you’re unsure where to start, visit your primary care doctor. They can help with the initial diagnosis and provide a referral to a psychiatrist.
It’s important to know that you can still have a full and happy life with a mental illness. Working with a therapist and other members of your mental health team will help you learn healthy ways to manage your condition.
Each type of mental illness causes its own symptoms. But many share some common characteristics.
Common signs of several mental illnesses may include:
not eating enough or overeating
having insomnia or sleeping too much
distancing yourself from other people and favorite activities
feeling fatigue even with enough sleep
feeling numbness or lacking empathy
experiencing unexplainable body pains or achiness
feeling hopeless, helpless or lost
smoking, drinking, or using illicit drugs more than ever before
feeling confusion, forgetfulness, irritability, anger, anxiety, sadness, or fright
constantly fighting or arguing with friends and family
having extreme mood swings that cause relationship problems
having constant flashbacks or thoughts that you can’t get out of your head
hearing voices in your head that you can’t stop
having thoughts of hurting yourself or other people
being unable to carry out day-to-day activities and chores
Stress and periods of emotional distress can lead to an episode of symptoms. That may make it difficult for you to maintain normal behavior and activities. This period is sometimes called a nervous or mental breakdown. Read more about these episodes and the symptoms they cause.
Diagnosing a mental health disorder is a multi-step process. During a first appointment, your doctor may perform a physical exam to look for signs of physical issues that could be contributing to your symptoms.
Some doctors may order a series of laboratory tests to screen for underlying or less obvious possible causes.
Your doctor may ask you to fill out a mental health questionnaire. You may also undergo a psychological evaluation. You might not have a diagnosis after your first appointment.
Your doctor may refer you to a mental health expert. Because mental health can be complex and symptoms may vary from person to person, it may take a few appointments for you to get a full diagnosis.
Treatment for mental health disorders is not one size fits all, and it does not offer a cure. Instead, treatment aims to reduce symptoms, address underlying causes, and make the condition manageable.
You and your doctor will work together to find a plan. It may be a combination of treatments because some people have better results with a multi-angle approach. Here are the most common mental health treatments:
The four main categories of medications used to treat mental health disorders are antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, antipsychotic medications, and mood-stabilizing medications.
Which type is best for you will depend on the symptoms you experience and other health issues you may face. People may try a few medications at different doses before finding something that’s right for them.
Talk therapy is an opportunity for you to talk with a mental health provider about your experiences, feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Therapists primarily act as a sounding board and neutral mediator, helping you learn coping techniques and strategies to manage symptoms.
Hospital and residential treatment
Some people may need brief periods of intensive treatment at hospitals or residential treatment facilities. These programs allow an overnight stay for in-depth treatment. There are also daytime programs, where people can participate in shorter periods of treatment.
Lifestyle treatments and home remedies
Alternative treatments can be used in addition to mainstream treatments as a supplement. These steps won’t eliminate mental health issues alone, but they can be helpful.
They include sticking to your treatment plan as closely as possible, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and adopting a healthy lifestyle that incorporates foods that may be a benefit to your brain. This includes omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fish oil that occurs naturally in some high-fat fish.
The term therapy refers to several styles of talk therapy. Therapy can be used to treat a variety of disorders, including panic disorders, anxiety, depression, anger issues, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Therapy helps people identify mental health issues and unhealthy behaviors or thought patterns. During sessions you and your therapist can work to change these thoughts and behaviors.
In most cases, therapists focus on current issues, things that are affecting your daily life, and help you find solutions to what you’re experiencing in real time, but each doctor’s approach is different. Read more about the different types and what results you might expect from therapy.
Mental Health First Aid is a national public education course. It’s designed to teach people about the warning signs and risk factors of mental health issues. In the training, participants learn about treatments and approaches that can help people with mental health disorders.
This training program is made for people who regularly interact with patients in a healthcare setting. Through scenarios and role-playing, healthcare providers can learn how to help a person in crisis connect with professional and self-help treatment steps.
Physical exercise is great for your body. Dancing, swimming, walking, and jogging boost cardio health and strength. They’re also great for your mind. Research shows they can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
However, there are also “exercises” you can do for your brain. These include:
Striking a power pose. People who use “power poses” (aka hands on hips) may see a temporary drop in feelings of social anxiety.
Listening to calming music. A 2013 study of 60 women revealed that people who listen to relaxing music recover faster after stress than people who relax but do not listen to music.
Practicing progressive muscle relaxation. This process involves tightening and then slowly relaxing various muscle groups. It may be combined with other techniques like listening to calming music or breathing exercises.
Finding a yoga pose. One 2017 study showed that just two minutes of performing yoga poses can boost self-esteem and help increase bodily energy.
When you talk with your doctor or therapist about your mental health, they may go through a series of examinations in order to reach a diagnosis. These steps could include a physical examination, blood or laboratory tests, and a mental health questionnaire.
A series of questions helps doctors understand your thoughts, responses, and reactions to events and scenarios. While this test won’t return immediate results, it will help your doctor better understand what you’re experiencing.
Avoid taking online mental health tests. While these may provide some insight into causes of symptoms, they aren’t administered by a healthcare professional. The questions and answer options may not be as specific as a doctor or therapist might be in an in-person testing environment.
Most individuals with mental health issues can and will find treatments that are successful. That means you can get better. Some mental health issues, however, are chronic and ongoing, but even these can be managed with proper treatment and intervention.
Recovery from mental health disorders or issues requires ongoing attention to your mental and overall health, as well as adherence to any behavioral therapy techniques learned from a therapist.
In some cases, treatments like medication may be needed on an on-going basis; others may be able to stop using them at some point. What recovery will mean for you is different than recovery for another person.
Mental health is a vital concern for healthcare professionals. Most people know the signs and symptoms of physical illnesses, like a heart attack or stroke. But, they may not be able to pinpoint the physical effects of anxiety, PTSD, or panic.
Awareness campaigns are designed to help people understand these common signs and symptoms.
More than 40 million Americans experience some form of mental illness every year. Knowing that they’re not alone may invite people to seek treatment from a professional. Treatment is key to relief from symptoms and maintain a healthy, active life.
Around 21 percent of American teenagers between 13 and 18 years old have experienced a severe mental health disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Half will develop a disorder by the time they’re 14 years old.
A significant number of youth are affected by depression in particular. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), around 13 percent of Americans between 12 and 17 years old had at least one major depressive episode in 2017.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now endorses universal depression screening for 12- to 18-year-olds. These screenings can be performed by a primary care physician.
Signs and symptoms in teens
The signs and symptoms of mental illness may be brushed aside as the angst of the turbulent teenage years. But, these may be the earliest predictors of mental health disorders or issues that require treatment.
Signs of mental health issues in teenagers include:
loss of self-esteem
loss of interest in activities or favorite hobbies
sudden and unexpected decline in academic performance
weight loss or changes in appetite
sudden personality changes, such as anger or aggression
Neuro-linguistic programming is a way of changing someone’s thoughts and behaviors to help achieve desired outcomes for them.
The popularity of neuro-linguistic programming or NLP has become widespread since it started in the 1970s. Its uses include treatment of phobias and anxiety disorders and improvement of workplace performance or personal happiness.
This article will explore the theory behind NLP and what evidence there is supporting its practice.
Share on Pinterest NLP can be used for personal development, phobias, and anxiety.
NLP uses perceptual, behavioral, and communication techniques to make it easier for people to change their thoughts and actions.
NLP relies on language processing but should not be confused with natural language processing, which shares the same acronym.
NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who believed it was possible to identify the patterns of thoughts and behaviors of successful individuals and to teach them to others.
Despite a lack of empirical evidence to support it, Bandler and Grinder published two books, The Structure of Magic I and II, and NLP took off. Its popularity was partly due to its versatility in addressing the many diverse issues that people face.
The varying interpretations of NLP make it hard to define. It is founded on the idea that people operate by internal “maps” of the world that they learn through sensory experiences.
NLP tries to detect and modify unconscious biases or limitations of an individual’s map of the world.
NLP is not hypnotherapy. Instead, it operates through the conscious use of language to bring about changes in someone’s thoughts and behavior.
For example, a central feature of NLP is the idea that a person is biased towards one sensory system, known as the preferred representational system or PRS.
Therapists can detect this preference through language. Phrases such as “I see your point” may signal a visual PRS. Or “I hear your point” may signal an auditory PRS.
An NLP practitioner will identify a person’s PRS and base their therapeutic framework around it. The framework could involve rapport-building, information-gathering, and goal-setting with them.
NLP is a broad field of practice. As such, NLP practitioners use many different techniques that include the following:
Share on Pinterest One of the techniques of NLP is to attempt to remove negative thoughts and feelings linked to a past event.
Anchoring: Turning sensory experiences into triggers for certain emotional states.
Rapport: The practitioner tunes into the person by matching their physical behaviors to improve communication and response through empathy.
Swish pattern: Changing patterns of behavior or thought to come to a desired instead of an undesired outcome.
Visual/kinesthetic dissociation (VKD): Trying to remove negative thoughts and feelings associated with a past event.
NLP is used as a method of personal development through promoting skills, such as self-reflection, confidence, and communication.
Practitioners have applied NLP commercially to achieve work-orientated goals, such as improved productivity or job progression.
More widely, it has been applied as a therapy for psychological disorders, including phobias, depression, generalized anxiety disorders or GAD, and post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
Share on Pinterest So far, there has not been any rigorous research to prove the effectiveness of NLP.
Determining the effectiveness of NLP is challenging for several reasons.
NLP has not been subject to the same standard of scientific rigor as more established therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT.
The lack of formal regulation and NLP’s commercial value mean that claims of its effectiveness can be anecdotal or supplied by an NLP provider. NLP providers will have a financial interest in the success of NLP, so their evidence is difficult to use.
Furthermore, scientific research on NLP has produced mixed results.
Some studies have found benefits associated with NLP. For example, a study published in the journal Counselling and Psychotherapy Research found psychotherapy patients had improved psychological symptoms and life quality after having NLP compared to a control group.
However, a review published in The British Journal of General Practice of 10 available studies on NLP was less favorable.
It concluded there was little evidence for the effectiveness of NLP in treating health-related conditions, including anxiety disorders, weight management, and substance misuse. This was due to the limited amount and quality of the research studies that were available, rather than evidence that showed NLP did not work.
In 2014, a report by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health found no clinical evidence for the effectiveness of NLP in the treatment of PTSD, GAD, or depression.
However, a further research review published in 2015 did find NLP therapy to have a positive impact on individuals with social or psychological problems, although the authors said more investigation was needed.
The theoretical basis for NLP has also attracted criticism for lacking evidence-based support.
A paper published in 2009 concluded that after three decades, the theories behind NLP were still not credible, and evidence for its effectiveness was only anecdotal.
A 2010 review paper sought to assess the research findings relating to the theories behind NLP. Of the 33 included studies, only 18 percent were found to support NLP’s underlying theories.
So, despite more than 4 decades of its existence, neither the effectiveness of NLP or the validity of the theories have been clearly demonstrated by solid research.
Also, it is worth noting, that research has mainly been conducted in therapeutic settings, with few studies into the effectiveness of NLP in commercial environments.
Studying how well NLP works has several practical issues as well, adding to the lack of clarity surrounding the subject. For example, it is difficult to directly compare studies given the range of different methods, techniques, and outcomes.
NLP has become very popular over the years. This popularity may have been driven by the fact that practitioners can use it in many different fields and contexts.
However, the broad ideas that NLP is built upon, and the lack of a formal body to monitor its use, mean that the methods and quality of practice can vary considerably. In any case, clear and impartial evidence to support its effectiveness has yet to emerge.
For these reasons, it is possible that good marketing has also contributed to the widespread popularity of NLP, particularly in the commercial sector.