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NLP: The Essential Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Programming

What is Neuro-Linguistic Processing? According to the authors of NLP: The Essential Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Programming, it is a “revolutionary” study of the process of thought — a step-by-step breakdown of what happens in the mind as we perceive the world around us or act. In this guide by Tom Hoobyar, Tom Dotz, and Susan Sanders are tips to help us improve ourselves by using NLP methodology.

Two important principles the authors share are that “there is no such thing as an inner enemy” and that “behind every behavior is a positive intention.” They explain that NLP is drawn from the works of Virginia Satir in the field of family therapy, Milton Erickson in the field of hypnotherapy, and Fritz Perls in Gestalt therapy.

The authors begin by looking at just how we use our brain to think and believe, and they begin teaching ways to positively change and build on those thought patterns and beliefs. Like a workbook of sorts, the guide contains “Discovery Activities” intended to help the us examine how we think and function. The authors instruct the reader in three separate ways to employ visualization: from within one’s own view, from the view of another person, and a third-person visualization as if from a camera.

The book also teaches about communication skills, including how to improve communication by looking at different modalities (the five senses) and sub-modalities (a quality of a given sensory perception, such as brightness in the visual sense). Overall, it teaches us to upgrade our concept of self.

One issue that may arise for a lay reader, or anyone not familiar with NLP, is the lingo. There is a lot of jargon, including swishing, chunking, zooming in and out, accessing cues, paralanguage, filters, mode of operation, modalities and sub-modalities, amplification, and meta programs. Still, although the number of terms might be overwhelming, the authors do an excellent job of writing accessibly. We are given the language, but in a very pragmatic and understandable way, and a reader can find the book quite useful without having to memorize the terms it uses. A glossary at the end proves helpful as a reference.

The book follows the principles of NLP by “chunking” or breaking down behaviors into small, achievable goals. It emphasizes our ability to reframe situations that can cause distress — such as public speaking — by changing self talk. We can change our world, and what gives us stress, by changing how we think about it, the authors write. We can think about the voice within ourselves, and whose it really is. We can even learn a form of eye movement integration that helps relieve the stress and trauma of painful memories.

To me, this way of thinking has an almost martial-arts feel to it — that mind and thought lead to intentions, which energize the actions we take. I have already begun to use the book’s teachings to help change my own behaviors. Hoobyar, one of the coauthors and a late Silicon-Valley CEO who “lived by” the code of NLP, says that we can “acquire good form from the beginning and successfully reprogram poor form created by habitual errors.” This can apply to any behavior change, but I am using it to improve my form in swimming.

Hoobyar also emphasizes creativity and making choices. He says that those with the most flexibility have the most influence within a system, and that we are all interconnected in systems. He writes that “the most important thing I can do is approach another person with a sense of curiosity, expectation, optimism, and interest. Everyone is unique and knows something special.”

That is a good way to approach this book. Mindfully going through the exercises has helped me make self-improvements, and has helped me realize that we gain power by analyzing our behaviors.

NLP: The Essential Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Programming

William Morrow Paperbacks, February, 2013

Paperback, 480 pages


NLP: The Essential Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Programming

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Stan Rockwell, PsyD

Stan Rockwell, PsyD, LPC has been working in the mental health field for over 40 years. He has worked as a therapist at a state hospital, a community mental health center and has been in private practice since 2009. He has also worked in disaster mental health, crisis intervention, as a client rights investigator and advocate, training and research, and graduate student supervision. He is a past chair of professional development for the Virginia Counselors Association. He has been a volunteer field tester for the World Health Organization in the development of the ICD 11 since 2013 and has been reviewing books for since 2012. He also teaches a class at the College of William and Mary that combines taijiquan and qigong with science and Chinese philosophy. He uses eastern and western methods in his counseling psychology practice. You can find him online at and

APA Reference
Rockwell, S. (2016). NLP: The Essential Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 May 2016
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 May 2016
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