History of NLP

“If you say to yourself 'It's difficult to get up in the morning', 'It's hard to cease smoking', then you are already using hypnotic suggestions on yourself.”


Richard Bandler
Co-Devloper of NLP

How did it all started?

In the early 1970s, Richard Bandler, who was then a student of psychology, and John Grinder, who was Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of California in Santa Cruz, joined together to study three renowned therapists. The three therapists were:

  • Fritz Perls – the developer of Gestalt Therapy
  • Virginia Satir – the pioneer of Family Therapy
  • And Milton Erickson - a Hypno-Therapist

Richard Bandler & John Grinder wanted to study why these people were outstanding in their field of work. Things like what did they do, how did they do it and if it would be possible to copy them. In other words, would it be possible to extract what is it that these people were doing and apply it to others to enable others to become successful as well?

They discovered that although the three therapists appeared to work in different ways, there was a common pattern or approach to their work that was similar. Bandler & Grinder then used their findings to develop a model of values, behaviour, & beliefs that these therapists applied in their work to achieve outstanding results. Amongst many other things, this model provided a framework for managing your emotions, effective communication with self & others, personal change & development and accelerated learning. The model then became the foundation of the study of success that they called Neuro-Linguistic Programming.​

Many other people also contributed to the development of NLP - two of the most notable being Gregory Bateson and Robert Dilts. Gregory Bateson worked in the fields of anthropology, biology, cybernetics, and psychotherapy. Robert Dilts got involved in the development of NLP from the beginning and made significant contributions to how people use language.​

NLP helps in the study of human behaviour as to how some people succeed as compared to how some people fail and enables us to change our behaviour to become successful. Or in some situations understand how is it that people make themselves unsuccessful!

Since 1970s NLP has grown exponentially and many people contributed to this growth.​