Hypnosis & NLP – two disciplines, one purpose

“What are the differences between hypnosis and NLP?” I have often heard people wondering about this. As differentiating and distinguishing is a natural way for us to try making sense of our surroundings, it is only logical that we are concentrating on the differences between things. This is the greatest shot we have to understand the world around us. I hate to disappoint you but that is not how it works with those two disciplines. To satisfy our thirst for comparison first, let´s point out some basic differences in the process:

While both techniques work with our subconscious, there is a difference in how exactly they do that. NLP techniques can use a great amount of conscious participation to work with the unconscious. For instance, when practicing the visual swish pattern one consciously goes through the steps of describing an unwanted negative picture and weaken it immediately afterwards by visually creating a positive new picture, which ultimately is supposed to become stronger than the old picture. Therefore, conscious participation in the process led us to a change of an unconscious picture.

Using hypnosis on the other hand, we might suggest replacing the old picture with a new one. Most likely, the client would be guided into trance and (to stay with the example of replacing a negative picture with a positive one) is told to create a new picture in his head. Thus, the unconscious is told what to do but not how to do it.

Do you fear it coming already? That is right! I am about to focus on the similarities of hypnosis and NLP. In fact, those two disciplines are highly intertwined. Considering the roots of NLP, Mylton Erikson was a major influencer of neuro-linguistic programming, as well as a renowned post-war hypnotherapist, specialized in medical hypnosis. This might give you the first hint.

 Furthermore, taking a closer look at the above-mentioned NLP technique of the visual swish pattern one might wonder if this technique can lead to being in a state of hypnosis when repeated various times or if an NLP technique would also work – maybe even have a more intense effect – when done in trance. Valid questions, I would say, that do not only hold for the swish pattern but for other NLP techniques such as anchoring.

Even though distinctions can be found in the processes itself, hypnosis and NLP share a common purpose: Both want to help us in achieving what we want. Moreover, both try to realize this by working with the unconscious. At the core, our internal representations must change. If not, it is almost impossible to change the way we feel about a certain event, situation or behavior.

Now, let me ask you something: Do we really need to concentrate on the differences between two things if the outcome of both can be that they help us in achieving our goals and the life we desire? Would it harm to think about possible ways to combine hypnosis and NLP?

Maybe, with integrating the two disciplines, we can make NLP even more effective and hypnosis a bit more regulated and easier to grasp for laymen? Win-win, right? My message to you is simple: Think about merger more than you think about separation and life will reward you with great diversity, which leads to the best results.


Written by Florine Allrath, content marketer at InKonstellation (https://www.in-konstellation.de/startseite/)