Is NLP Hypnosis?

Is NLP Hypnosis? If you are new to the world of hypnosis and NLP, you may wonder, ‘What’s the difference?’ Aren’t they basically the same?

Well the answer is, ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The truth is, modern hypnosis— especially Ericksonian hypnosis— incorporates a large number of NLP concepts.

More properly, however, it should be said that NLP itself is centered in a large number of concepts taken directly from Richard Bandler and John Grinder’s (the creators of NLP) in-depth study of Dr. Milton Erickson.

Bandler and Grinder carefully analyzed the language patterns used to develop trance and facilitate therapeutic change with his patients. From this evolved the driving concept of ‘utilization’ which basically means you take what the person is doing already and turn it in a positive direction.

For instance, Erickson once treated a young boy for eneuresis (bed wetting) by first talking to him about the muscle control involved in catching a baseball. Two seemingly unrelated topics, and yet Erickson drew the unconscious connection that allowed the boy to develop a transformational strategy acceptable to his unconscious mind.

What is so great about properly practiced hypnosis and NLP is that instead of relying upon the client to conform and subscribe to an external intellectual model (such as psychoanalysis, for instance), they work with modes of thought and expression that originate from inside the person themselves.

This makes the changework much more natural and, quite honestly, more palatable and effective for the client. By carefully observing the client first, the client tells (either through actual words or behavior) the trained hypnotist or NLP practitioner exactly how a breakthrough can best be created for them. The hypnotist or NLP practitioner then simply works with what the person has already communicated has a potent effect on them.

Is NLP hypnosis? Inasmuch as NLP utilizes visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or linguistic patterns that induce trance, it is pure hypnosis. It should be noted, however, that many Ericksonian hypnotists would argue that all conversations are, in themselves, an invitation to trance.

If I were to make a professional distinction however, I would say that NLP first consists of a particular mindset and principles from which, as Richard Bandler has stated, a multitude of techniques and patterns have evolved. Hypnosis, as it is typically practiced, is a little different in that it primarily consists of structured induction methods followed by the delivery of suggestion, either direct or indirect.

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