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Japanese managers’ experiences of neuro-linguistic programming: a qualitative investigation


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Purpose Though several work-related mental health training initiatives have been implemented in Japan, the effectiveness of such approaches remains unclear. Consequently, some Japanese corporations prefer using interventions such as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to improve employee mental health and wellbeing. This language-based development methodology has been the subject of debate in terms of the quality of the underlying empirical evidence. However, a perspective missing from this debate is an evidence-based understanding of the first-hand experiences of employees that have undertaken NLP training. The purpose of this paper is to inform this debate by conducting a rigorous qualitative examination of the experiences of Japanese senior managers who had recently received training in NLP. Design/methodology/approach Semi-structured interviews attended by 11 Japanese NLP master practitioners were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings Four themes emerged from the data set: improving work-related mental health, NLP fosters a better understanding of the mind, NLP helps to reframe perspectives relating to work and mental health, and challenges of NLP training. Originality/value While managers found NLP training skills such as reframing and neuro-logical levels useful to their managerial practice and mental health more generally, they raised concerns about NLP’s reputation as well as the utility of some of the techniques employed in NLP.
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Japanese Managers’ Experiences of Neuro-Linguistic Programming:
A Qualitative Investigation
Kotera, Y. & Van Gordon, W. (2019). Japanese managers’ experiences of Neuro-
Linguistic Programming: A qualitative investigation. Journal of Mental Health
Training, Education and Practice. doi: 10.1108/JMHTEP-06-2018-0033
Purpose: Though several work-related mental health training initiatives have been
implemented in Japan, the effectiveness of such approaches remains unclear.
Consequently, some Japanese corporations prefer using interventions such as neuro-
linguistic programming (NLP) to improve employee mental health and wellbeing. This
language-based development methodology has been the subject of debate in terms of
the quality of the underlying empirical evidence. However, a perspective missing from
this debate is an evidence-based understanding of the first-hand experiences of
employees that have undertaken NLP training. This study sought to inform this debate
by conducting a rigorous qualitative examination of the experiences of Japanese senior
managers who had recently received training in NLP.
Design/methodology/approach: Semi-structured interviews attended by eleven Japanese
NLP master practitioners were analysed using thematic analysis.
Findings: Four themes emerged from the dataset: i) improving work-related mental
health, ii) NLP fosters a better understanding of the mind, iii) NLP helps to reframe
perspectives relating to work and mental health, and iv) challenges of NLP training.
Originality/value: While managers found NLP training skills such as reframing and
neuro-logical levels useful to their managerial practice and mental health more
generally, they raised concerns about NLP’s reputation as well as the utility of some of
the techniques employed in NLP.
Keywords: neuro-linguistic programming, Japanese management, occupational mental
health, Japan, positive psychology
There is growing awareness of mental illness in Japan (Kobori, et al., 2014)
where the number of individuals diagnosed with depression increased by 136% between
1999 and 2008 (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare [MHLW], 2015). Japan has
one of the highest rates of suicide among developed countries (Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development, 2015) and 12% of all suicide cases are
deemed to be work-related (National Police Agency, 2016). Furthermore,
approximately 60% of the Japanese working population experience intense anxiety and
stress (MHLW, 2010), and the number of Japanese workers’ compensation claims for
mental health problems increased from 200 in 2000 to 1,500 in 2015 (MHLW, 2016).
From a financial perspective, if Japan was to eradicate suicide and depression, the
yearly financial benefit would be approximately 2.7 trillion Japanese yen (JPY),
equivalent to 0.7% of GDP (Kaneko and Sato, 2010).
The Japanese word Karoshi means “death from overwork” and it refers to health
and psychological problems arising from long working hours that are typical of many
Japanese workplaces (Kopp, 2017). Consistent with the traditional Japanese value of a
focussed work ethic (Ono, 2016), long working hours have sometimes been a
prerequisite for acceptance within the Japanese office setting (Hisamoto, 2003). Indeed,
a quarter of Japanese companies have employees working more than 80 hours unpaid
overtime each month, and 12% have employees working more than 100 hours (Lane,
2017). The rate of Japanese employees working long hours (over 49 hours per week) is
higher than most of the Western developed countries (i.e., 21% in Japan, 17% in US,
13% in UK [The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training, 2016]). In addition to
increasing the risk of suicide, excessively long working hours leads to a deterioration of
workers’ mental health (Kuroda and Yamamoto, 2016).
In order to reduce overtime and overwork-related problems, the Japanese
government has established several new policies. The first comprehensive programme
launched in 2002 focused on i) reducing overtime to no more than 45 hours per month,
ii) introducing medical examinations for all employees, and iii) offering consultation by
a medical professional for those working long hours (Iwasaki et al., 2006). However,
despite such efforts, overtime has remained constant and a detailed analysis of changes
in the prevalence of overwork-related health problems has not been conducted (MHLW,
In 2014, the Japanese government passed a new act to help prevent karoshi and
other overwork-related health disorders (MHLW, 2014a). To support implementation of
the act, the national budget for preventive measures against overwork-related disorders
increased from 5.5 billion JPY in 2015 to 7.4 in 2016 (MHLW, 2016). In the new act,
overwork-related disorders were defined as i) death by cerebrovascular/cardiovascular
diseases (CCVD), ii) suicide following an onset of mental illness caused by work, and
iii) CCVD and mental disorders due to work. The 2014 act also focuses on the
transparency of workers’ physical and mental health, and on whether workers are
maintaining a healthy work-life balance. The Japanese government has also recently
initiated the work-style reform which in addition to sustaining the Japanese workforce,
includes measures to help reduce overtime working (The Prime Minister of Japan and
His Cabinet, 2016).
Due to the influence of government led work-related health promotion
initiatives, more Japanese companies are providing mental health support (23.5% in
2002 and 47.2% in 2012) in the form of specialist training for managers, return-to-work
support for employees, and recruitment and training of dedicated in-house mental health
support workers (MHLW, 2013). However, there is still reticence amongst many
Japanese employers to provide mental health support services, and the effects of both
government-led and in-house mental health support initiatives have been ambiguous.
For example, 64% of Japanese companies responded “nearly the same” to the question
of how many employees took more than a month of mental health leave or left the
company in the year of the survey, compared with the previous year (MHLW, 2013).
Due to uncertainty surrounding certain national and locally-implemented work-
related mental health initiatives, some Japanese companies have preferred to utilise a
technique called neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) for improving diverse work
psychological outcomes including occupational stress and self-esteem (AUTHOR 1 et
al., 2018c). NLP originated in Richard Bandler’s observations of specific linguistic
structures that Fritz Perls, a Gestalt therapist, used in his sessions to enhance the effects
of positive suggestions for patients (Bandler and Grinder, 1979). NLP helps
practitioners analyse how outstanding results are delivered and then determine how best
to reproduce them (O'Connor and McDermott, 2001). The process of duplicating
excellent results is called modelling and can be applied to a wide range of contexts
(Ready and Burton, 2016). NLP has been used to improve various psychological
outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and stress (Bigley et al., 2010; Gray and
Liotta, 2012; Juhnke et al., 2008; Simpson and Dryden, 2011; Stipancic et al., 2010;
Wake, 2008; Witt, 2008). Furthermore, it has been used by organisations in Japan to
promote goal-setting, self-management, team building and leadership (Yamazaki,
2007). Specific NLP techniques are also believed to have applications for improving
wellbeing in diverse types of university student populations, including business students
and caring profession students (AUTHOR1 et al., 2018a; AUTHOR1 et al., 2018b).
There are various providers offering NLP training in Japan but the NLP Connection,
which was one of the first NLP organisations to establish itself in Japan, has certified
1,725 practitioners and 1,321 master practitioners (C. Hall, personal communication,
March 15, 2016).
Although NLP appears to be reasonably well-accepted amongst the Japanese
management sector, the science of NLP has been criticised for being underdeveloped
(Pensieri, 2013; Sturt et al., 2012). For example, Sturt et al. (2012) systematically
reviewed NLP interventions on health outcomes and concluded that much of the
research was limited by major methodological issues (e.g., not reporting aims,
interventions, etc.). Furthermore, other literature reviews have highlighted issues
relating to researchers’ lack of understanding of NLP (Pensieri, 2013).
However, a perspective missing from the abovementioned critiques and
systematic reviews is an evidence-based understanding of the first-hand experiences of
management professionals who have received NLP training. Thus, the purpose of the
current study was to inform the debate concerning the utility of NLP in Japanese
organisations by conducting a rigorous qualitative analysis of the first-hand experiences
of Japanese senior management professionals who have received NLP certification
An in-depth qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews attended by 11
senior Japanese managers who had received NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner
certification training (NLP-PCT and NLP-MPCT) was conducted. The CASP (Critical
Appraisal Skills Programme) checklist (Public Health Resource Unit, 2013) was
employed to inform and enhance the methodological design of the qualitative
Three NLP trainers in Japan approached experienced managers who had
completed NLP certification training. Of the 14 managers approached, 11 agreed to
attend an hour-long interview via Skype. The lead author, based in the UK, conducted
the interviews and introduced themselves as a psychology researcher. The 11
participants consisted of eight senior managers, two directors, and one company
president. Nine participants worked in major corporations and two worked in medium-
sized organisations.
Seven of the participants were men and four were women, and the age range was
39-68 years (M=53.4, SD=7.4; Table 1). The average age of participants in this study
was in line with the demographic characteristics of senior managers in Japan (i.e., 52
years old; MHLW, 2018). In line with the Japanese government’s aim to increase
female manages in Japanese companies, both male and female managers were included
in the current study (MHLW, 2014b). On average, participants had completed NLP-
MPCT 2.8 years prior to data collection, and all participants had completed their NLP
training at least one year prior to study commencement. Participants had an average of
16.3 years of managerial experience.
Table 1. Participant list
Company size
Mgt Exp (yr)*
Participant 1
Quality Manager
Participant 2
HR Manager
Participant 3
Participant 4
Sales Manager
Participant 5
Sales Manager
Participant 6
Participant 7
Sales Manager
Participant 8
HR Manager
Participant 9
Consulting Manager
Participant 10
HR Manager
Participant 11
*‘Mgt exp (yr)’ = Management experience (year)
NLP Training
Generally, both the NLP-PCT and NLP-MPCT are delivered for ten days over
three months. NLP-PCT focuses primarily on personal changes, teaching the basic
concepts and skills of NLP to enable participants to make changes within themselves
(Hall, 1983). The following eight NLP components are covered as part of the training:
representational systems, rapport-building, anchoring, language patterns, outcome
framing, sub-modalities, strategies, and trance. Completion of the NLP-PCT allows
participants to move onto NLP-MPCT, which focuses primarily on fostering change in
others. NLP-MPCT also develops participants’ understanding and NLP practice abilities
(Hall, 1983). All the skills taught in the training entail theoretical understanding,
demonstrations by the trainer, and self-practice. During the course of the training,
participants are required to produce five self-reflection reports (Yamazaki, 2004, 2005).
The questions included in the interview schedule (e.g., ‘Which NLP skill(s) did
you find most helpful to your managerial practice?’) were based on the Helpful Aspects
of Therapy Questionnaire (HAT: Llewelyn, 1988), which has been employed in
research contexts to examine the efficacy of professional training (e.g. Smith, 2011).
The questions in the HAT were suitable for the present study because they i) were
straightforward, ii) not intrusive to the interviewees, and iii) helped the interviewees to
focus on the helpful events in the change process (Elliott, 2012).
The interviews were conducted via Skype, recorded, transcribed, and then
translated into English. Each interview explored topics such as the reasons why
participants decided to undertake NLP training, what NLP skills and concepts were
particularly useful in their work (and how they applied them), and whether there were
any challenges in applying NLP in a management context.
Ethical approval was provided by the authors’ university research ethics
Data Analysis
A point of data saturation was reached after the aforementioned 11 interviews
were undertaken (i.e., it was deemed that interviewing more participants would not add
to the overall story; Strauss and Corbin, 1998). Thematic analysis – which does not
limit the analysis to any existing theoretical framework – was employed because it was
considered to be appropriate for investigating the under-researched topic of Japanese
managers’ experiences of NLP (Braun and Clarke, 2006). Thematic analysis identifies
the essential concepts and patterns of experience within the data by means of
segmentation, categorisation, summarisation, and reconstruction of the data. The
technique illustrates patterns in experience and identifies the common themes within
these patterns (Givens, 2008).
To maintain transparency and coherency, an investigator triangle (Hales, 2010)
was formed that comprised (i) the lead author, (ii) a psychology researcher who was
familiar with NLP training, and (iii) a non-NLP-trained researcher. The second and third
member of the investigator triangle reviewed the data extracts relating to each of the
themes identified during the lead author’s analysis, and an agreement was reached in all
cases. The three individuals involved in the investigator triangle were all native
Japanese speakers and they likewise examined the quality of the translation from
Japanese to English.
The following steps were taken as part of the thematic analysis:
1. Familiarisation
After transcribing, all the scripts were read and re-read in order to search for
patterns of meaning (Braun and Clarke, 2006).
2. Generating initial codes
Coding was then conducted to help formulate the data into purposeful groups
(Tuckett, 2005), yielding as many codes as possible (Braun and Clarke, 2006). Twenty-
four initial codes were formulated: NLP eight-frame outcome, reframe, neuro-logical
levels, association/dissociation, position change, understanding the human mind,
communication, goal setting, meta-model, flexibility, applicability, motivation,
coaching, identity, presentation, misunderstanding, perspective change, power of
questions, principles, swish pattern, self-control, trust, psychological safety, and
3. Searching for themes
The codes were organised into potential themes. In order to view all the codes at
the same time, while moving and connecting them flexibly, the mind-map method was
employed (Braun and Clarke, 2006). The twenty-four codes were grouped into four
themes: (i) improving mental health, (ii) understanding the human mind, (iii) frame
change, and (iv) challenges of NLP.
4. Reviewing themes
All the coded data extracts were reviewed for coherency and accuracy (Braun
and Clarke, 2006). Four types of data were identified: (i) NLP management
applications, (ii) what NLP teaches, (iii) what NLP does, and (iv) limitations relating to
using NLP in an organisational setting. The aforementioned theme of ‘improving
mental health’ related to (i) NLP management applications; the theme of ‘understanding
the human mind’ related to (ii) what NLP teaches; the theme of ‘frame change’ related
to (iii) what NLP does; and the theme of ‘challenges of NLP’ related to (iv) limitations
concerning using NLP in an organisational setting.
5. Defining and naming themes
Lastly, the central meaning and the scope of data captured by each theme were
defined (Braun and Clarke, 2006). For example, reviewing the data extracts for
‘improving mental health’ revealed that the NLP skills of neurological-levels and meta-
model improved managers ability to augment employee levels of motivation, trust, and
psychological security.
Four themes emerged from the analysis: i) improving work-related
mental health, ii) NLP fosters an understanding of the mind, iii) NLP helps to
reframe perspectives, and iv) challenges of NLP in organisational settings.
Table 2. Master themes and example participant excerpt
Example Participant Excerpt
Improving Work-
Related Mental Health
NLP skills, for example the eight-frame outcome, help us to think about
how we want to be. Each member of staff can think about how they want
to be, and what actualising this would mean to their life. (Participant 1).
NLP Fosters an
Understanding of the
NLP systematically analyses our psychology, so based on that, you can
think about how to change your own behaviours (Participant 3).
NLP Helps to Reframe
My primary frame has changed from ‘Why do I (or my team) have to do
this?’ to ‘How can I (or my team) use this for the better?’ ... Now I ask
myself ‘What can I learn from this?’ or ‘What positive consequences
would I face if I did this?’ This helps me to stay focused on what I need to
do (Participant 8).
Challenges of NLP in
Organisational Setting
If I advertise ‘NLP’ training to my team, they wouldn’t be interested….
The word ‘NLP’ does not have a citizenship in my office, while ‘coaching’
or ‘mental training’ does (Participant 7).
Theme 1: Improving Work-Related Mental Health
All of the senior managers reported that by using NLP in their management
practice, they were able to augment occupational mental health competencies (e.g.,
autonomous motivation, trust, psychological safety) in both their staff and themselves:
Participant 1: NLP skills, for example the eight-frame outcome, help us to think
about how we want to be. Each member of staff can think about how they want
to be, and what actualising this would mean to their life. Helping them identify
their personal meaning to their work creates a different quality of motivation in
Participant 6: To increase our productivity, trustful relationships are very
important. When I tell my staff the company vision and future plans, it would be
meaningless if my staff didn't trust the company. Neuro-logical levels help me to
gain congruence among my vision, how I need to be and behave, and this creates
trustful relationships with them.
Participant 2: I believe sponsorship is love. We feel psychologically safe when
given sponsorship, an acknowledgement at an identity level. Many managers
more often attack their staff's identity than acknowledge it. Attacking one's
identity really damages one's safety.
These data extracts appear to support the view that NLP improved work-related mental
health, especially by augmenting positive psychological effects (AUTHOR1, 2018). In
NLP, the eight-frame outcome, also known as the well-formed outcome (Yamazaki,
2007), consists of eight frames or questions to help an individual achieve a goal:
outcome, evidence, context, ecological, resource, limitation, meta-outcome, and action
frames. Participants found this goal-setting method useful as it appeared to enhance
autonomous motivation as well as positive emotions towards both their own and their
employees’ work. Furthermore, the above data extracts indicate that participants were
making use of an NLP skill known as neuro-logical levels (Dilts, 1996). This NLP skill
is inspired by the fundamental levels of learning and change (Bateson, 1972) and helps
NLP practitioners describe and use these levels accordingly: environment, behaviours,
capabilities, beliefs/values, identify, and spiritual levels. For example, NLP practitioners
can use this skill to clarify, shape and develop adaptive working strategies that are
conducive to cultivating mental health and wellness within themselves and their team
(AUTHOR1, 2018).
Theme 2: NLP Fosters an Understanding of the Mind
The senior managers reported that NLP improved their understanding of the
human mind which enabled them to apply NLP skills flexibly within the context of their
work. In particular, participants appeared to deepen their understanding of some of the
basic functions of the human mind, including its desire for understanding (Yamazaki,
2007), inclination toward meaning making (Bandler and Grinder, 1975), and a
preference of pleasure over pain (Ready and Burton, 2016):
Participant 3: NLP systematically analyses our psychology, so based on that, you
can think about how to change your own behaviours. ... In counselling and
coaching, you are advised to have more experience to learn the applications,
however, NLP teaches the principles and essence of our mind, so that you can
apply each skill to your work contexts.
Participant 4: Knowing skills alone is not enough; you need to understand the
mechanism behind them, in order to create managers’ training that makes a
Insight into these core psychological principles appeared to help the senior managers
understand how and why each NLP skill works, and to be able to evaluate and compare
NLP with other interventions accordingly. For example:
Participants 4: There are so many self-help books suggesting different ways to
succeed in management. But they tend to only tell you what to do, based on what
the author did that worked in their contexts. The principles that I learned in the
NLP training help me analyse why those methods work, and what part of them
could be applicable to my context.
Participants 11: In my earlier coaching training, I didn’t really learn the logic of
how each skill works, and how to apply them to different situations. I had to rely
on my experience to learn applications. NLP taught me what coaching was
missing: how each skill works.
The above participant extracts appear to be related to a key training goal of NLP which
is fostering the ability to analyse excellence (Ready and Burton, 2016). For example, if
a client is feeling confident, an NLP practitioner might ask questions such as ‘Where do
you feel confidence in your body?’, ‘What colour is the feeling?’ etc. Assigning
qualities to feelings and linking these qualities to the five sense domains (i.e., visual,
auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory, and gustatory) is an NLP process known as assigning
‘sub-modalities’ (O’Connor and McDermott, 2001). Sub-modalities help practitioners
understand their client’s internal map of the world and to subsequently model excellent
results that other individuals and teams have demonstrated.
Theme 3: NLP Helps to Reframe Perspectives
The word ‘frame’ is often used in NLP (including various subsets of the term
such as reframe, pre-frame, and ecological frame) to refer to an individual’s
perspectives towards a specific situation or object. For example, ‘reframing’ is
commonly used to modify perspective, including how an individual interprets objects
and people around them (O’Connor and McDermott, 2001). All participants reported
that NLP helped both them and their employees to cultivate more effective frames:
Participant 9: It is a drastic change in my team that we now often set up a
positive outcome first in each project for the team and individuals. For example,
one member of my staff was in charge of a difficult case. She was very anxious
about it, and hesitant to take any actions. We went through the eight frames to
create a positive outcome, which helped her to have a clear vision of how she
wanted this case to be at the end, instead of what she was nervous about.
Participant 8: My primary frame has changed from ‘Why do I (or my team) have
to do this?’ to ‘How can I (or my team) use this for the better?’ There are so
many stressful things, and I used to be drowning in the negative emotions. Now I
ask myself ‘What can I learn from this?’ or ‘What positive consequences would I
face if I did this?’ This helps me to stay focused on what I need to do.
Theme 4: Challenges of NLP in Organisational Settings
Although all participants were satisfied with their experience of receiving NLP
training, they also reported some challenges in using NLP in the workplace. One
notable challenge related to the use of the term ‘NLP’ in the organisation:
Participant 7: If I advertise ‘NLP’ training to my team, they wouldn’t be
interested. So, instead I say it’s coaching, training, or we will do some ‘mental
training’, then they would listen to me. The word ‘NLP’ does not have a
citizenship in my office, while ‘coaching’ or ‘mental training’ does.
Participants 10: While working, I earned a master’s degree in psychology,
studying part-time. During my master’s, I told some of the university faculties
that my research focus was on NLP, and they replied, ‘oh that commercialised
one’. It is very strange because coaching is more commercialised; more frequent
renewal fees and expensive training.
The above data extracts suggest a degree of frustration amongst participants in
the sense that they were convinced of the utility of NLP, but could not understand why
the technique was not more popular. In this context, some participants referred to how
the seemingly more acceptable practice of coaching – a collaborative development to
foster a client's ability to grow autonomously (Stober and Parry, 2005) – utilises
numerous practical assumptions that are based on NLP (AUTHOR1, 2018; McDermott
and Jago, 2006).
Another challenge identified by participants relates to the fact that NLP
originated in clinical practice. For example, some NLP skills require a long period of
time, a relatively large space, and/or body movements to be conducted, which can be
difficult in implement in a workplace setting. Furthermore, describing feelings and the
internal world is not natural for some business professionals, who sometimes prefer to
deal with objective (i.e., rather than subjective) facts:
Participant 9: What was hard to use for me was letting them move their body or
describe their feelings. ... Especially male staff or staff who rely on logical
thinking found difficult to engage in those exercises.
Participant 7: Especially elder staff showed difficulty describing their feelings,
because they were a generation who has endured severe criticism from their boss
and clients – and developed their mental resilience. They believe talking about
feelings is a sign of weakness, and a failure to maintain professionalism.
Participant 3: Some of the skills take a long time to conduct. For example,
though it is useful, the eight-frame outcome has eight questions to cover. In a
busy workplace, it is unrealistic to go through all of them. Five may be doable,
and three would be ideal.
The current study conducted a rigorous qualitative analysis of semi-structured
interviews attended by 11 senior Japanese managers who had completed NLP-PCT and
NLP-MPCT. Four themes emerged from the dataset: Improving work-related mental
health (theme 1), NLP fosters an understanding of the mind (theme 2), NLP helps to
reframe perspectives (theme 3), and the challenges of NLP (theme 4).
In organisational settings, NLP is often used to improve work mental health,
especially by augmenting positive psychological constructs (theme 1) rather than for
reducing negative constructs per its use in clinical contexts. This is consistent with
findings from the current study, where participants reported that NLP benefits
psychological wellbeing in different ways. In particular, managers reported that the
NLP skills of neuro-logical levels and well-formed outcomes played an important role
in supporting employee mental health. Neuro-logical levels appeared to help
participants identify the benefits of their work to the immediate and wider community,
and well-formed outcomes appeared to help them to formulate a detailed and realistic
plan in order to achieve a goal. These NLP skills are related to positive psychological
constructs such as mission and meaning, and other NLP studies have linked them to
improvements in work-related mental health (AUTHOR1 and Sheffield, 2017).
Throughout NLP certification training, participants learn several principles
relating to the functioning of the mind (theme 2). In NLP, this understanding is arguably
most directly cultivated via the process of modelling (i.e., modelling excellent
communication and results). Modelling strategies are a fundamental part of NLP and
have been used to help inspiring leaders such as Steve Jobs and Walt Disney (Dilts,
1996). A key factor that contributes to the modelling process in NLP is sub-modalities,
which constitute the detailed internal map of our inner experience. Sub-modalities are
similar to a philosophical concept known as qualia (Stanford University, 2015) as well
as a Buddhist concept known as rokkyou (‘六境; Soothill and Hodous, 2014). Qualia
refer to the properties of sense data as well as how these properties are represented
internally (e.g., experiencing anxiety as a red large ball rising from the stomach;
Stanford University, 2015), and rokkyou refers to our internal experience of visual,
auditory, olfactory, gustatory, kinaesthetic, and ideological fields (Soothill and Hodous,
2014). Findings demonstrated that the senior managers believed that sub-modalities
helped both them and their employees understand that there is an idiosyncratic sensual
interpretation of the external world, and that becoming aware of this is an adaptive
means of relating to both feelings and sensory information.
Theme 3 indicated that NLP helped the senior managers and their employees to
formulate new, more adaptive, perspectives. NLP makes frequent use of presuppositions
such as ‘There is no failure, only feedback’ or ‘Behind every behaviour there is a
positive intention (O’Connor and McDermott, 2001).’ These presuppositions, modelled
from excellent communicators, are pedagogical devices intended to help practitioners
impart internal changes as a result of clients or employees revaluating assumptions,
thoughts and behaviours (Grimley, 2013). More specifically, theme 3 appears to
highlight a central function of NLP which is to challenge or change mental frames
(Rosen, 1991). Indeed, consistent with NLP studies of leaders working in clinical
settings (Dilts, 1996), the senior managers reported that in addition to changing their
way of thinking and how they relate to employees, NLP presuppositions and reframing
techniques enabled them to offer more supportive and motivational leadership.
Theme 4 highlighted some of the challenges of using NLP in Japanese
organisations. Indeed, as opposed to using the term NLP, the current sample of senior
managers preferred referring to the practice as ‘coaching’. This is consistent with wider
perceptions of NLP amongst professional bodies in both Japan and overseas, and it
indicates that ‘coaching’ is a more accepted term than ‘NLP’. For example, coaching
psychology was acknowledged by the British Psychological Society (BPS) in 2004
(BPS, 2005), while NLP has not been officially recognised to date. This is despite the
fact that there are significant overlaps between NLP and coaching in terms of both their
theoretical underpinnings and the techniques they employ (McDermott and Jago, 2006).
A plausible explanation for the difference in credibility between the two
approaches is that NLP is more commercialised (Grimley, 2016). Furthermore,
coaching is regulated by the International Coaching Federation yet there is currently not
an established regulatory body for NLP (Grimley, 2016). However, as reported by one
of the participants in the present study – who holds both NLP and coaching
certifications – coaching could also be considered ‘commercialised’ as it involves more
frequent licence renewals than NLP.
In addition to the credibility issue, there is also the question of whether NLP is
culturally syntonic for Japanese workers (AUTHOR1 et al., 2018). For example,
participants reported that a further challenge of using NLP related to a reticence
amongst some Japanese employees to discuss emotions at work. This may be due to
Japan’s masculine culture (Hofstede and Minkov, 2010) and the fact that some Japanese
workers feel considerable shame when discussing mental health issues (Tanaka et al.,
Given the logistical and psychological demands of using NLP in organisational
settings (e.g., duration of intervention, space availability, use of body movement
exercises, and voicing of feelings, etc.), there is a need for a greater understanding of
which specific NLP skills are most suitable for the Japanese workplace (i.e., exploring
the research question of whether there should be a subtype of NLP specifically tailored
for use in Japanese occupational contexts). The development of such a subtype has been
implemented to some degree (e.g., Knight, 1995), but a more focussed and centralised
approach is recommended.
Findings from this study are subject to a number of limitations. Indeed, as with
all qualitative studies, findings are specific to the current sample of study participants
and may not generalise to other Japanese senior managers. Furthermore, bias may be
present given that all participants were trained NLP practitioners that regularly use NLP
as part of their work. The lead author’s involvement with NLP also might have caused
bias, however this was countered by the investigator triangulation, and the second
author i) assessing the interview questions, ii) reviewing the data analysis, and iii) co-
creating the reporting. Qualitatively exploring the experiences of managers’ employees
would also likely deepen understanding of the utility of NLP in Japanese corporations.
The present study demonstrated that Japanese senior managers experience NLP as an
effective means of augmenting work-related mental health and performance in both
themselves and their employees. In particular, although the Japanese senior managers
that participated in this study made reference to the challenges of using NLP, they
emphasised the value of NLP skills in terms of helping individuals understand their
mental processes and relate to work problems in a manner that fosters mental wellbeing
and performance.
The current findings, that explore participants’ first-hand experiences of using
NLP, also help to inform the wider debate concerning the utility of NLP. More
specifically, while previous NLP organisational studies have tended not to focus on
evaluating the dynamics of how NLP works from a manager’s perspective, this study
identified that there are a number of key NLP skills (e.g., reframing, well-formed
outcome, and neuro-logical levels) that are experienced as being beneficial by senior
Japanese business leaders. A further investigation of these skills may contribute to the
development of novel solutions in terms of addressing mental health and managerial
problems faced by Japanese organisations.
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... Although there are several treatments for psychological problems, non-drug methods such neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) have started to attract attention in recent years [13][14][15]. People want to have control over their own lives [16]. ...
... With NLP, the individual realizes their existing power. NLP is easy to learn, easy to apply, and an effective method for various problems [13][14][15]17]. NLP is a method that allows people to change the neural programming of any situation or emotional perception with various techniques and is similar to body-mind therapies in this respect. ...
... There are studies that show that NLP is useful in coping with many psychological problems, including fear [13][14][15]. It is known that kidney transplant recipients are among the patient groups who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and have high risk of infection [19] and may therefore experience fear. ...
This study was conducted experimentally to evaluate the effect of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) on fear of COVID-19 in kidney transplant patients. The study was carried out between June 2021 and October 2021. The Personal Information Form and COVID-19 Fear Scale (FCV–19S) were used to collect data. The obtained data obtained were evaluated using the SPSS 25 software. NLP was found to reduce the fear of COVID-19 in kidney transplant patients. Clinical nurses can use NLP techniques to support patients with fear in similar patient groups. Patients can be provided with access to training programs where they can learn NLP techniques. NCT05115435.
... Although there are various medical and psychiatric methods in the solution of psychological problems, nondrug methods such as Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) have also started to attract attention in recent years (6)(7)(8). NLP is a method that allows the individual to change the neural programming of any situation or emotional perception with various techniques and is similar to bodymind therapies in this respect. The term neurological means that all behavior results from the neurological processing of information provided by the five senses. ...
... Nurses and other health professionals should monitor patients both physiologically and psychologically and develop and implement strategies to solve the problems they detect, as well as before and during liver transplantation (15,16). When the literature is examined, NLP draws attention among the strategies that can be developed for psychological symptoms (6)(7)(8)10,11). ...
... Likewise, it is stated in the literature that NLP techniques help to create an atmosphere of respect and trust and increase compliance (Nahar, 2019). They can also help develop new solutions in terms of dealing with managerial problems (Kotera & Van Gordon, 2019). In this context, NLP training can make a sustainable difference on the conflict management and interpersonal problem-solving skills of nurse managers. ...
... It is emphasized in the literature that understanding individuals' perspectives and the differences between them is not the same as approving of everything they do. Similar to the results of the current study, it is noted in the literature that it is possible to use the techniques of 'reframing, well-formed outcome and neurological levels' to improve leadership skills and achieve high performance(Kotera & Van Gordon, 2019;Soothill & Hodous, 2014). The concepts of representation systems, fixation, orientation, sensory acuity, T A B L E 6 Themes and subthemes obtained in focus-group interviews 6 months after the NLP training "We experience problems more with the patients and their relatives, not the team…Since the expectations of the patients and their relatives are higher and they don't want to take care of their chronic patients anymore, we have problems with them. ...
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Aim This study, which had a quantitative and qualitative design, was conducted in order to determine the effectiveness of Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques on the conflict and interpersonal problem/solving skills of nurse managers. Background Neuro-Linguistic Programming is among the methods that can enable managers to achieve the desired results in managing interpersonal problems and conflicts in an organization. Methods The Personal and Professional Characteristics Information Form, Interpersonal Problem-Solving Inventory and Rahim Organizational Conflict Inventory-II were applied to 41 nurse managers and nurses to collect quantitative data for the study. Semi-structured questionnaires were used to collect qualitative data in focus-group interviews held both before and six months after the training. The research was carried out with a mixed method. Results As a result of the content analysis of the qualitative data, the nurse managers in the training group were found to be more moderate, better able to plan, more flexible, more positive, happier, and more motivated than the nurse managers in the control group. Findings supporting these data were obtained in the analyses of interviews with nurses. Conclusion Neuro-Linguistic Programming training can make a difference in terms of helping nurse managers to develop interpersonal problem- and conflict-solving skills. Implications for Nursing Management Nurse managers can use Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques to resolve interpersonal problems and conflicts occurring in their organizations. For this purpose, it is recommended that pre- and post-graduate Neuro-Linguistic Programming training be provided to executive nurses.
... The first pillar provides a greater understanding of how NLP affects the way the human brain works, learns, and grows its own capabilities . Kotera et al. (2019) conducted a qualitative examination of the experiences of senior managers who had recently received NLP training. The training program focused on teaching the basic concepts and skills of NLP. ...
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Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) has already achieved great popularity as a method for personal development and excellence. It is already used by successful educators, managers, trainers, salespeople, market researchers, counselors, consultants, medics, top athletes and lawyers. However, there is a lack of understanding about the secrets behind the success of neuro-linguistic training in various areas of human life. What are the pillars of its success? What is the role of metacognition? The specific aim of the present review is to explore the relationship between neuro-linguistic programming and metacognition as well as their role in building human excellence. In addition, we investigate, for the first time to our knowledge, the effectiveness of NLP in virtual reality in order to promote metacognitive development in terms of behavior change, subconscious reshaping and consciousness-raising. The results of this review showed that there is a mutually reinforcing relationship between Neuro-linguistic programming and Metacognition. Research has also shown that virtual reality provides the ideal environment for the application of subconscious training techniques like those of NLP. We conclude with a new layered model of NLP based on the principles of metacognition. This model aims to condition people to become awake, transcend their limitations, and enter a higher state of consciousness.
... It has the capacity to improve one's mental health, fosters a better understanding of the mind, and helps in reframing perspectives related to mental health. 15 Therefore, NLP is a means through which thanatophobia can be controlled to a minimal level. ...
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One of the main priorities of every individual is a comfortable life; however, there are situations that sometimes make this hard to achieve, and an example of this is a condition known as thanatophobia. This is usually experienced among humans and has to do with an excessive fear of death. People experiencing thanatophobia need the required intervention to live a normal life, and a major method of achieving this is by using neurolinguistic programming, which is an appropriate means of controlling the condition. This is a single-subject study involving 4 respondents with high and very high levels of thanatophobia, with the use of Depression Anxiety Stress Scale and observation sheets as the recording instruments. The data analysis was conducted through Wilcoxon signed-rank test and visual representation. The results showed that neurolinguistic programming has the ability to reduce the level of thanatophobia in humans.
... Cognitive re-appraisal was regarded most popular in my workplace research, interviewing senior managers in Japan, looking at the same thing from a different perspective or putting it in a different context (Kotera & Van Gordon, 2019). Part of self-compassion is understanding and kindness towards what you do not appreciate about yourself, your shadow or shame. ...
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To protect wellbeing of healthcare and caregiving workers during COVID-19, the University of Derby has initiated to offer a webinar focusing on self-care. This one-hour webinar has been well-taken by many healthcare and caregiving workers, and has been requested to be offered at various organisations such as the National Health Service trusts, the British Association of Social Workers, and the Derbyshire Voluntary Action. This commentary reports the outline of the webinar including how the participated healthcare and caregiving workers perceived self-care, and suggests that the current situation may help de-stigmatise self-care among these crucial workforces.
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Aim: The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of Neurolinguistic Programming practices on organizational citizenship behaviour in nursing. Background: Neuro Linguistic Programming practices are used for different purposes in many areas and they can also be used to contribute to the acquisition of organizational citizenship behaviour. Methods: The research is a randomized controlled trial. The sample of the study consisted of 180 nurses. The data of the study were collected through face-to-face interviews conducted with the nurses in the sample group, Neuro Linguistic Programming training group, standard training and control groups between January and April 2020 after Neuro Linguistic Programming training was received by the researcher. Chi-Square Test and ANOVA test were used to analyse the collected data. Results: A statistically significant difference was found in the total score of the organizational citizenship behaviour in the Neuro Linguistic Programming training group compared to the standard training group and the control group (p<0.05). Conclusions: The use of Neuro Linguistic Programming practices can be an effective method for nurses to gain organizational citizenship behaviour. Neuro Linguistic Programming practices can be used to achieve the desired goals, especially for the acquisition of informing and participation, tolerance and conscientiousness behaviours. Implications for nursing management: Organizational citizenship behaviour exhibited by employees are very important for organizations. With this behaviour, nurses can improve all processes, from the quality of care services they provide to patients, to satisfaction. With this study, we think that both the work satisfaction of the nurses will increase, and the patients will receive quality service.
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Background & Purpose: Resolving interpersonal conflict for establishing dynamic and effective workplace is one of the most important skills of managers. Thus, it's essential to know the effectiveness of different ways in this area. The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of teaching Neuro-Linguistic Programming strategies and Transactional Analysis on resolving interpersonal conflict of managers.
Introduction. The article addresses the problem of developing students’ value-semantic sphere by means of situations of a semantic choice as the first moment of meaning-making and application of relevant psychological technologies. The purpose of the article is to reveal the peculiarities of using reframing as a technology of initiating students’ semantic choice in order to increase inner motivation and to develop their value-semantic sphere. Materials and Methods. The research adopted meaning-centred and psycho-semantic approaches. The authors applied the methods of content analysis, systematic analysis, comparative analysis, terminological analysis, generalization and systematization. Results. The article substantiates the necessity of using a reframing technology in the learning process. The main types of reframing that can be implemented in the context of the meaning-centred approach to learning are identified – reframing of meaning and reframing of context. The authors outline the key factors of implementing a reframing technology that affect the initiation of students’ semantic choice. They include: the focus on the sensory system of the student, reliance on subjective experience of the student, use of communication (verbal and non-verbal), aspiration to the future. The authors highlight methods and techniques, including linguistic constructs, influencing the initiation of students’ semantic choice. Conclusions. The authors emphasize the potential of reframing in the learning process as a technology of psychological and educational support and a technology aimed at increasing students’ inner motivation, thereby clarifying the specificity of reframing.
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Self-compassion, sharing some commonalities with positive psychology 2.0 approaches, is associated with better mental health outcomes in diverse populations, including workers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is heightened awareness of the importance of self-care for fostering mental health at work. However, evidence regarding the applications of self-compassion interventions in work-related contexts has not been systematically reviewed to date. Therefore, this systematic review aimed to synthesize and evaluate the utility of self-compassion interventions targeting work-related wellbeing, as well as assess the methodological quality of relevant studies. Eligible articles were identified from research databases including ProQuest, PsycINFO, Science Direct, and Google Scholar. The quality of non-randomized trials and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale and the Quality Assessment Table, respectively. The literature search yielded 3,387 titles from which ten studies met the inclusion criteria. All ten studies reported promising effects of self-compassion training for work-related wellbeing. The methodological quality of these studies was medium. All ten studies recruited workers in a caring field and were mostly conducted in Western countries. The Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) or its short-form was used in almost all instances. Findings indicate that self-compassion training can improve self-compassion and other work-related wellbeing outcomes in working populations. However, in general, there is need for greater methodological quality in work-related self-compassion intervention studies to advance understanding regarding the applications and limitations of this technique in work contexts. Furthermore, future studies should focus on a broader range of employee groups, including non-caring professions as well as individuals working in non-Western countries.
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Despite the wide use of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, (NLP), within coaching psychology very little literature of a critical nature examines what NLP is, how it works and whether it works. This paper seeks to address that void by asking 15 subject matter experts what their definition of NLP is. In order to develop a theory of NLP that was not skewed, data from a discussion between 19 NLP informed professionals concerning the authenticity of NLP, (44,000 words), was also used in the coding process to generate a grounded theory of NLP. The emerging theory was recycled back to the 15 subject matter experts and 19 informed professionals a number of times and compared and contrasted with the extant literature before the final theory emerged and became somewhat substantiated as a result of saturation. This paper examines the use of NLP within coaching psychology in the context of such a new theory of NLP and suggests developments in the light of such an examination.
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Neuro‐linguistic programming (NLP) is an approach to communication and personal development focusing on how individuals organize their thinking, feelings, and language. While a growing number of academic articles highlight the application of NLP in organizational settings, a systematic review synthesizing and evaluating the quality of this evidence has not been conducted to date. The aim of this article was to follow the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta‐analysis (PRISMA) guidelines and conduct a systematic review of empirical studies evaluating the application of NLP in organizational settings. Targeted outcomes included self‐esteem, trustworthiness, organizational commitment, and occupational stress. Academic research databases used to identify articles included ProQuest, PsycINFO, Science Direct, Google Scholar, and a specific NLP database. The literature search yielded 952 titles from which seven studies met all of the inclusion criteria. Findings indicate that NLP can be effective for improving a wide range of work‐related psychological outcomes including self‐esteem and occupational stress. However, there were concerns regarding methodological rigor. In general, the benefits of NLP were both overpromised and undersupported. Implications for future NLP application and research, with a focus on the relevance to current issues in the field of human resource (HR) development, are discussed.
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There is growing awareness of mental health problems among UK business students, which appears to be exacerbated by students’ attitudes of shame toward mental health. This study recruited 138 UK business students and examined the relationship between mental health and shame, and mental health and potential protective factors such as self-compassion and motivation. A significant correlation between each of the constructs was observed and self-compassion was identified as an explanatory variable for mental health. Shame moderated the relationship between self-compassion and mental health. Integrating self-compassion training into business study programs may help to improve the mental health of this student group.
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The Disney strategy, a neuro-linguistic programming skill, has been reported to be useful for career guidance by qualified career consultants in Japan. This mixed methods pilot study aimed to examine the effects and the experience of using this strategy for career guidance in Japanese students. Six students responded to four job-search-related scales at pre-training and post-training, and were interviewed. Students' self-esteem and job-search self-efficacy increased significantly in the short-term. Thematic analysis of the interviews revealed three key experiential features: body movement; clear vision; and positive emotions. These promising findings suggest the Disney strategy should be examined in larger, longitudinal studies.
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Although the application of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) has been reported worldwide, its scientific investigation is limited. Career consulting is one of the fields where NLP has been increasingly applied in Japan. This study explored why career consultants undertake NLP training, and what they find most useful to their practice. Thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with six career consultants, who had attended NLP certification training, revealed that they wanted to learn action-oriented NLP-based coaching skills in addition to their active-listening-based counselling skills. NLP provided frameworks to lead their clients' thoughts efficiently, deepened their understanding of the human mind, and developed their attitude to understand others and themselves. The NLP skills found most useful were reframing and the Disney strategy.
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Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to discuss the implementation and evaluation of a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) training course for clinicians in Chiba, the sixth-largest province in Japan. Design/methodology/approach– Individual CBT for obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa, or social anxiety disorder was delivered by trainees of the Chiba CBT training course in a single study design. Findings– The results demonstrated that individual CBT delivered by trainees led to statistically significant reductions in symptom severity for all three disorders. Feedback from the trainees indicated that the training course achieved its aims. Research limitations/implications– Barriers to the dissemination of CBT in Japan such as opportunities for training and possible solutions are discussed.
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Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) was created in the 70s in California. It studies in particular three components of mental and behavioral production of human experience: neurology, language and programming. Objective of the article is a review of international literature, exclusively in the field of health related to NLP. Method: we search the following keywords: NLP, PNL (Italian acronym for NLP), LEM (Lateral Eye Movements), Eye Movement, Eye Neuro Linguistic and VAKO (which, in NLP, stands for Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory-Gustatory) on various search engines and in PubMed, Web of Knowledge and Scopus.Results: for the word Neuro Linguistic Programming” we identified 112 articles in PubMed, but of these, only 61 actually related to the NLP. According to the keywords, we identified 7 fields of NLP literature. These are: Communication (20 articles), Training (4 articles), Personal Well-Being (4 articles), Food and nutrition (1 article), Eye movements (8 articles), Psychotherapy (21 articles), reviews and studies on its efficacy (3 articles). Conclusions: International scientific literature is divided on NLP. We find articles against NLP, some contain methodological errors in some cases simply due to the little knowledge of NLP discipline; others are in favor of NLP but samples are too small or they are qualitative studies. It therefore remains a fascinating field to study and monitor.
Neurolinguistic Psychotherapy offers a unique and exciting postmodern perspective on an advancing model of therapy. It places neurolinguistic psychotherapy in context and considers the history of NLP and its relationship to psychotherapy. Presented as an effective model for facilitating neurological change through the therapeutic relationship, this book challenges therapists to incorporate a psychodynamic approach within their work. In addition the book also presents: A model of the developing personality and the relationship to attachment theory and emerging theories of neuroscience. A discussion of the linguistic components of NLP and the effectiveness of utilising the language patterns offered by NLP. A challenge to neurolinguistic psychotherapists - asking them to consider the benefits of including relational approaches to therapy above that offered by a programmatic model of change. This book will be of great interest to all psychotherapeutic practitioners and trainers, students and academics.
NLP – neuro linguistic programming – three initials a bit misleading. At a glance, one could think it's all about computers…but neuro linguistic? Could it be some scary futuristic technique coming directly from The Matrix, a new way to control people's minds? It took me a while to realise what was all about. The first book I got on the subject was "NLP At work" by Sue Knight. Sue is a world known author and practitioner, whom I had the chance to meet during a class on NLP at Henley on Thames, England. It was a unique experience on self awareness, communication and human interaction. The pioneers of NLP were John Grinder and Richard Bandler, who first introduced the notion in their 1978 work "The Mystery of the Sorrow". Since their first work, dozens of books were published, and then NLP "exploded" into the world of therapy and touched deeply the business one, companies all over the world are teaching or using it (NLP). Sue Knight is one of the first to try to put this intriguing theory in an accessible format, adapted for the business world. Her book is already at its second edition, maybe the best proof for the interest it provoked worldwide. In order to understand what NLP is, we can start by putting some light on the initials NLP. Neuro can be associated with the way you filter and process your own experience through senses; linguistic represents the way you interpret your experience through language and programming in nothing else that the way you code your language and behaviour into your own "program". One has to be flexible when accepting this broad description, as not everything falls under this umbrella.