Mental Health Awareness with NLP
We live in a time when Mental Health awareness is highlighting the everyday challenges people are facing. The issues express themselves in various ways, and have an impact on how well we function in everyday life: how we manage pressure, process anxiety, and cope with low self-esteem.
A balanced state of being is important to us all, in any context – and NLP offers useful tools, techniques, strategies and attitudes that are positively transformational – particularly in cases of depression, anxiety, stress, phobias and PTSD.
Challenges to our Emotional Wellbeing
Around 25% of people each year experience some kind of mental health issue. In addition, there are common daily stressors or concerns about money, health, relationships, work, social expectations – and significant life changing events like critical illness, bereavement, divorce, personal failure and redundancy can affect any of us at certain points in our lives. This makes it altogether more important for us to develop emotional resilience and coping strategies to manage our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, to produce positive results.
Even if you’re not affected by mental health problems like low mood or stress yourself, knowing how to support the 1 in 4 people around us who are struggling with these issues is increasingly important. Whether you are a friend, family member, manager, work colleague or a practitioner – having some knowledge of helpful tools and techniques is invaluable to identify and break through negative patterned behaviour. NLP provides highly effective processes that recognise mental health challenges and help people to get themselves into a good state.
The methodologies of NLP serve us in many ways, ultimately leading to improved Mental Health. NLP increases our awareness, enhances our cognitive functions, and strengthens our sensory apparatus. It provides incredibly valuable processes to help people improve their mental state.
In present times, when significant changes are occurring in our external world, our internal world often doesn’t know how best to navigate through life’s challenges. When we feel overwhelmed, reaching out to a specialist takes courage, but it’s just like seeing a doctor when we’re not feeling physically well.
Help is available
A variety of therapies and support is available to help people with issues and feelings they can’t manage by themselves. However, some mental health interventions just deal with the symptoms, rather than the cause of the problem. For example, a GP may offer drugs that help in the short-term, but they don’t address the underlying problem or offer a longer-term solution if the causal issues still remain. Because it is solution-focused, NLP helps people to see what they do want (rather than what they don’t want) – and helps to resolve issues by addressing the cause of the problem (not just the symptoms) – at a deeper level.
Counselling and psychotherapy help people to talk through their problems or offload emotion and may challenge their reasoning and give them a different perspective, but some people may not be able to find a solution this way. Although helpful to many in dealing with deep-rooted problems, it can take a very long time. Rather than exploring the problem, NLP looks straight to a solution – fast.
Most talking therapies like counselling work with the conscious mind – rather than with the unconscious mind as NLP does, for deeper, lasting change. And yet it is the unconscious mind that drives our feelings, thoughts and behaviour. The unconscious mind also drives our strategies and patterns of thinking and behaviour, including the unhelpful strategies we use to get ourselves depressed, anxious or overwhelmed, or to maintain these negative states. With NLP’s focus on working with the unconscious, change can be rapid, effective and permanent.
NLP for common mental health issues
Everyone is different, so depending on the issue, the client, and their ‘map of the world’, an NLP practitioner will use the most appropriate tools, techniques and approach for each individual case.
So, although the following is not a comprehensive list, some approaches under one heading may be equally effective with another issue – or another person.
Generalising the negative
In terms of how people express their problem situation, gentle challenge using the meta-model, is helpful. For example, if a client says, “Everybody hates me!” The NLP practitioner or therapist will ask, “Everybody? Who, specifically?”
Using universal quantifiers like ‘everybody’ generalises the problem and the client fixates on the select few they perceive as judgemental, rather than remembering the people who like and love them. The state the client is in determines what they see. The client holds onto their distorted belief based on the negative experience they are consistently processing. A therapist uses effective questions to break through the belief the client has formed.
NLP for Depression and low mood
Many people with depression or low mood express themselves negatively. Just drawing their attention to what they tell themselves – and the language they use – brings the unconscious into consciousness. Refocusing on the good and positive things lifts their spirits. Using submodalities to change people’s internal representations and perception of their problems helps, too. Making things smaller, quieter, lighter, brighter and further away alleviates and even removes those feelings.
When people recognise that they can take control of their negative voices or feelings, it is a step towards them taking responsibility for change – taking them out of a reactive role and into an active self-leadership role – enabling them to feel stronger.
‘Circuitry clearing’ and knowledge of eye-accessing cues are also useful to help people to see their way out of the problem or low mood, and into the solution and a better mood.
Some other NLP processes that diminish the effects of depression:
Breath of Life
Submodality Map Across
NLP for Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety is the only emotion we can experience in real time about something that hasn’t even happened. A brief use of timeline, taking someone beyond the event they are anxious about, can be used effectively – as can some of the other techniques mentioned in this article.
Stress can often be alleviated by helping people with goal-setting, action-planning, and time-management – including an awareness of their timeline orientation. Or by the teaching of relaxation techniques and the use of hypnotic language.
Peripheral Vision exercise
Betty Erickson Technique
Rhythm of Life
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
NLP phobia cures have proved to be highly successful with people with PTSD – either through disconnecting a synaesthesia (often V-K – visual and kinaesthetic/feeling) for people haunted by a still image, or by using a rapid rewind technique for people who relive trauma as ‘movie-like’ experiences.
Fast Phobia cure
Supporting people with mental health issues
If you have friends, family members, work colleagues or staff who are struggling mentally or emotionally, having some knowledge of NLP techniques for maintaining good rapport and communication – at the minimum – is helpful for listening and offering support.
Just sharing and explaining the basic presuppositions of NLP can offer people reassurance and a wider perspective: e.g. ‘there is no failure, only feedback’; ‘every action has a positive intention’; ‘people are doing the best they can with the resources they have available’; ‘the map is not the territory’.
Further still, some knowledge of Time Line Therapy™ is transformative. Even just knowing the orientation of one’s timeline is helpful. For example, a through-time person can more easily see the past in front of them, and if they filter for negatives, they have constant reminders of the bad times in their eyeline. If they can turn their attention to the positives, and step on their timeline, orienting themselves towards the future, they can find relief, hope, and step forward with confidence.
An in-time person may be better at putting bad things behind them, but if they do recall them or receive reminders, they are more likely to re-experience bad memories in a multi-sensory, fully associated way. Therefore, detachment and dissociation will help them. Enable them to take their learnings forward and remove their limiting decisions, getting rid of negative emotions.
Whether you have mental health issues yourself, or are supporting someone else personally or professionally, you will find inspiration, relief, solutions and support through NLP. Its range of benefits for improving people’s mindset, state of mind, and success are available for all.