If you have been through various types of therapy, you may have noticed a significant variation of techniques and methodologies. In this article, I am going to explore one of the differences between general psychiatry and NLP. We’ll cover the pros and cons of both.
First of all, I am not judging either approach as “right” or “wrong” they are just different approaches with the same goal. Having had extensive experience with both modalities, I have come to recognize some differences.
The main difference between psychotherapy and NLP is the definition of mental conditions. Psychotherapy generally categorizes patients into various forms of disorders. A patient is labeled as suffering from depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar depression, and so forth. These labels define a person as being damaged or defective hence the idea of a disorder. Often, disorders are classified as chemical imbalances that need to be controlled with medication.
A practitioner of neuro-linguistic programming or NLP views people as generally healthy with undesirable behaviors. The idea is, if you feel depressed, you have a habit you want to change. Yes, depression is a chemical process of the brain. However, it is a practitioner of NLP who believes it is your behavior and thought process that creates this chemical imbalance. In other words, there is nothing inherently wrong with you; you just need to learn a different strategy.
For instance, if I handed you a hammer and taught you how to hammer nails, but I never taught you how to flip the hammer around and remove bent nails, how well could you build a house? Sure some people could hit every nail perfectly, but only after years of practice. If you had to use a hammer without knowing how to fix your mistakes, you might feel like you are spending your time looking at all of the imperfect nails that you were unable to correct. That could make you depressed, anxious, or obsessively negative. You may even give up building the house because so many nails would be bent and incorrectly hammered that you just couldn’t deal with the work any longer.
Now you could take various medications to help you not notice all those bent nails, or you could pound the heck out of the nails until they were almost unnoticeable.
The question remains, “Is your hammer defective?” No. The hammer is fine. It is perfectly capable of removing nails. Nobody has taken the time to teach you to use the other side of the hammer.
There are different times when these different approaches will be beneficial. If everything is entirely overwhelming and your doctor suggests medication for a time, there is every reason on earth to take it. Sometimes, when under immense stress or a significant workload, pounding the nails down is all you can do, and you’ll deal with them later.
The most important thing to do, however, is to learn to use the other side of the hammer. How to let go of past limiting beliefs, limiting decisions, and mistakes to move on with building your life. Yes, you may have to tear down some walls to do a remodel, and if you are like me, you may have to tear it down to the very foundation and rebuild. With both sides of the hammer, you’ll be able to build the life you want.