NLP Origins

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In the early 1970′s a 20 year old psychology student at the University of California, Santa Cruz (Richard Bandler) met and befriended an associate professor of linguistics there (John Grinder).

Bandler had originally majored in mathematics and computer science but had switched when the field of behavioural sciences piqued his interest. Hence why NLP is usually said to have been created by a linguist and a computer programmer.

Bandler had become particularly interested in the work of therapists Virgina Satir and Fritz Perls and began to run various workshops and study groups around the subject of gestalt therapy .

Soon Bandler and Grinder began to work together to develop a behavioural syntax for gestalt therapy i.e what skills and techniques would help a person overcome a problem. Their research led to them to analyse the way we store and process our thoughts and to better understand how we communicate with others. 

Adopting an approach of “if it works, use it – if it doesn’t work, try something else” they analysed writings and tape recordings to discover the roots of what allowed Satir and Perls to produce such remarkable results.

The two co-founders ( Bandler and Grinder ) , published their first book “The Structure of Magic, I” in 1975. In this book, they tried to extract the rules of human verbal communication, which would be equivalent to linguistic grammars or to mathematical formulas, by modelling such genius “therapeutic wizards” as Milton H. Erickson, the most important hypnotherapist , Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy and Virginia Satir, one of the authorities of family therapy.

As they began to come up with ideas, insights, and techniques they tried them out on friends (including Robert Dilts, Judith DeLozier, Leslie Cameron, and David Gordon) who soon joined them in developing and extending the work. The enthusiastic and highly creative group grew and NLP developed. Soon they were joined by others in the enthusiastic, visionary and creative search for what accounted for the results that people get.

This interview was taken at the Institute for Eclectic Psychology,  which was the 1st institute that introduced NLP in The Netherlands in 1981. The mission of this Institute is to help people to fulfill their inner potential better. Robert Dilts is a leading developer of

NLP and a respected member of the global NLP community.

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