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Developed by two American psychology graduates in the early 1970s, NLP is claimed to help with a host of behavioural problems, from phobias to eating disorders. As its name suggests, it focuses on changing the relationships between how people think and communicate (neuro-linguistics) and their modes of behaviour, or ‘programs’. And according to its supporters, which include the celebrity hypnotist Dr Paul McKenna (left), this approach can produce impressive results.
However, many mainstream psychologists insist that the evidence supporting NLP is meagre. That said, advocates of the technique have now won some support from a study of hospital patients suffering from claustrophobia while undergoing medical scanning procedures. Doctors at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, used NLP to treat 50 patients who had been unable to cope with the claustrophobia they experienced during MRI scans. After treatment with NLP, over three-quarters of the patients were able to cope with the scanning process. According to the researchers, if the results are replicated by others, this would produce ‘major advantages in terms of patient safety and costs’.