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NLP and Psychology

NLP and Psychology

By Wesley Kew, Clinical Psychologist.

I was recently asked about the similarities and differences that exist between NLP and Psychology. As the conversation expanded and moved toward the inevitable question “which one is your favourite?”, I was taken aback as my mind scurried to find an adequate and insightful answer. Alas, very little sounded nor felt authentic so I did what all the greats do when pushed into a proverbial corner, I kept my mouth shut and pretended I knew exactly what and how to answer. I was mentored by that great quote from Abraham Lincoln (or was it Mrs Goose?):

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt!

nlp psychology and the third eyeWhat followed surprised me. Actually, I was not really that surprised at all, because as a NLP student I have become used to trusting my NOW state and as a trained Psychology student I trusted the process as it guided me. I’m becoming more comfortable knowing and trusting that a force greater than I can even dare to imagine at times, is always with and empowering me. The more I give myself over to this frequency vibration and energy, the more resourceful I become.

“So, which one do you prefer?” In true NLP fashion a metaphor best describes my sentiment. Asking which one I prefer, is like asking a parent which one of their children do they prefer? Sure the one is 8 years older than the other and yes, babies are cute and novel, but there is something just as special about having walked an arduous journey with someone. Not to mention the excitement of the journey that lies ahead with the new. Or indeed one wine against another. At one time of day, a Pinot may encourage the pallet and another, with another dish, a Chardonnay.

Take a moment to think about the you sitting here reading this and the you 10 years ago? How have your beliefs changed, what have you learnt about yourself, what do you still need to learn, who have you kept close following some testing times and who have you selected to withdraw yourself from? Research highlights how our body is continually replacing itself with new sets of cells every 7 to 10 years (depending on your source of reference). Added to this the old adage that change is the only constant. So what makes our perception and experience of life any different?

As you are well aware, some people or children will test you in different ways. Both NLP and Psychology have elements that I almost fanatically enjoy and others that require me to delve deeper into my own personal challenges. Ten years of studying psychology has given me great skills and strategies that aid me in digesting many feelings and thoughts that crop up during the therapeutic journey. For those of you that are not familiar with the psychological realm, you must understand that at times it can be very confrontational and seductive. Add to this one must at times actively allow attacks, then stand strong and resolute in the face of any and all feelings, thoughts and concerns. As with so many things in life, consistence is key.

One distinct similarity I have experienced with NLP and Psychology is that during the Psychology/NLP process, patients/clients may for the first time be confronted with what and where the roots of their weeds in the garden stem from. During these periods, some are eager to begin gardening and others choose to continue their gardening as is. There is an old Japanese adage

better not start – once started better finish!

When the patient/client is ready and has the intent to bring about change, I feel NLP really comes into its own, adding immense value. NLP, in my opinion, is solution focused – direct yet patient in its approach. Accepting of the others world whilst all the while reminding them that each and every one of us is responsible for our mind, thus our results.

The vast array of NLP strategies and techniques has really added to my confidence and abilities as a heath care practitioner. Added to this the continued support, interactions and insights that I have gained via NLP World and Terry Elston have really facilitated my continued professional growth. It never ceases to amaze me how gratitude determines your latitude in life, so thanks Terry and NLP World.

milton ericksonTo really get a feel for NLP, one must find out where it all began. What was the desired outcome and what kept it going, growing and thriving for all these years. As I delved deeper into the origins, founders and theory that underpins and informs NLP and Psychology, I soon realised that they were grown from the same garden. Milton Erickson, Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir to mention just a few, were motivated by their desire to understand what motivated people to do the things they did. Added to this an undying curiosity to find out how they could bring about movement in their clients, towards being continually resourceful and more empowered versions of themselves.

I have found that NLP has given me a language that fills in the gaps created along the Psychological journey. Many times I have lacked the words and understanding of the process being used in the healing profession. Sure one can trust the process, however, I rather enjoy understanding and communicating what my process is. This facilitates me to reproduces results and guides my own supervision and continued professional development. Moreover, NLP gives a running commentary to those seeking to engage more mindfully – aka being in the NOW.

So which one do I prefer? Neither – both are now intimate members of my family unite. Sure one is older and I have known for longer, but the younger is cheeky, exciting and worthy of my undivided attention. Sure at times they may clash and at times they will play like kindred spirits. One thing is certain, my family would not be as strong, resolute, curious or resourceful without both equally calling the best out of me as the father.

Written by Wesley Kew, Clinical Psychologist: Email Wesley at

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