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NLP Scientifically Proven: 28+ Studies That Prove Its Effect

NLP Scientifically Proven: 28+ Studies That Prove Its Effect

Has NLP been scientifically proven? NLP can be used as a means of therapy. Does this also work when you look at it scientifically? Read on for scientific resources on NLP …

General research on NLP and databases with research on NLP

Below you will find a selection of university studies on NLP, in which NLP is sometimes proven and sometimes not.

  • Lisa Rijks, Lucas Derks, Bruce Grimley and Jaap Hollander have contributed a lot to scientific research on NLP. Their findings were published in the British Psychologyical Society in the first quarter of 2019 .  You can also read their piece here .
  • Dr. Lucas Derks published another important paper in 2016 : What cognitive psychotherapies – like CBT, NLP and Ericksonian hypnotherapy – reveal about the workings of the mind. A theoretical analysis over 35 years of clinical experimentation.
  • EANLPt has linked to a number of academic papers at the top of this page , with an explanation below.
  • NLP-Wiki  focuses on science and NLP. On their  homepage you will immediately find an impressive overview of the entire NLP methodology with an impressive list of research papers.
  • On  are more than 440 academic papers – abstracts – about studies about the effects of NLP.
  • The IANLP website has a paper entitled: Evidence-based Neuro Linguistic Psychotherapy: a Meta-Analysis by Zaharia C, et al. Psychiatr Danub. 2015.
  • “Mirror Neurons”: The Neuropsychology of NLP Modelling. Validation of transfer of excellence techniques by modern neuro sciences.
  • View the paper: Assessing the effectiveness of NLP: Study  Hollander / Malinowski  (2016); Norris  (1996) This older study too .
  • The British Psychologyical Society  , in 2019  published a paper in 2019 about how the evidence of NLP can be better validated. See this paper.
  • That same Dr. Bruce Grimley has tried to explain NLP as accurately as possible in this paper .

Investigations of NLP in therapy / psychotherapy

  • Research  on the use of NLP in PTSD (2014). See also this study (2015).
  • NLP perspective in  psychotherapy for sadness.  Theoretical background, method and case studies.
  • A study  on how NLP can be used as a source of positive psychological interventions to improve self-confidence and subjective well-being.
  • thesis  that compares the effects of counselors who have or have not been trained in NLP.
  • study of the treatment of phobias with NLP.
  • A study  of the treatment of vertigo with NLP.
  • A study showing that NLP is more effective than smoking cessation drugs.
  • A thesis showing that  matching someone’s primary representation system  increases trust in a therapeutic relationship.
  • Research into the long-term effect of guidance with NLP: an average of 20 sessions of 60 minutes. The treated group with DSM diagnoses was compared to a control group. In the therapy group, a significant decrease in clinical symptoms and a significant increase in quality of life were found. Five months later, the changes held.
  • Research on NLP and pollen allergy.

Researching NLP in coaching

Researching NLP in education

  • An investigation of the potential of NLP in formal education .
  • Thesis on reducing anger in parents.

Research of eye movements

  • Research on eye movements , Dr. Richard Bolstad, 2015.
  • The  Eyes Don’t have it : Lie Detection and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Wiseman and Watt, 2012. However, the hypothesis studied here is not the NLP hypothesis. See the Bolstad study above.
  • Here you will find again  what the founders of NLP – Bandler and Grinder – have claimed. They adopt a completely non-scientific attitude and argue that the eye movements cannot be generalized to multiple people: you can observe temporary patterns per person – and that is different for everyone.

Why has NLP’s Wikipedia page not been corrected?

The explanation is simple: there is a bit of ‘harassment’. The NLP Wikipedia page appears to have been written and monitored by an editor whose mission is to discredit NLP.

This is clearly visible in the writing style of the article. He has labeled NLP as “pseudoscience” while conveniently ignoring over 200 scientific studies that suggest NLP has something valuable to offer and warrant further research.

There are, of course, also well-meaning and neutral volunteers who contribute for Wikipedia. Why would six in ten articles contain factual errors on Wikipedia.

Here you can read the full refutation with substantiation.

NLP doesn’t even want to be scientific

nlp scientific or not

NLP is about the ‘subjective experience’. That is why NLP is not even really interested in meta-research ‘truth’, but only looks at the usability per individual.

NLP is by definition non-scientific. It wants to break through the frame of reference of knowing and move out of the box towards not-knowing. NLP teaches you not to accept anything on purpose, so that you can make a ‘diagnosis’ for each person and do or say something different for each person. NLP is therefore not deductive (scientific) but inductive. See this article on induction.

Suppose that 86% of the cases turn out to be effective. You can then be in the top 14%, so go for it!

Suppose 100% of the cases fail. You can be the first to succeed!

Everything is unprecedented until it first happens.

Moreover, NLP appeals to the self-healing capacity – which is also by definition non-scientific, but actually inductive: the self-healing capacity assumes that the prognosis does not have to be correct, and that you can be the exception who heals or becomes older than the average.

Marie has cancer. She looks at the scientific bell shaped curve to see how long she has left to live. She reads the average and now she knows she has 5 years to live. That’s bullshit. Is Suzan a statistic? No. She is a person.

More scientifically proven concepts that occur frequently in NLP

is NLP scientifically based

The concepts below have long been accepted as scientifically proven:

  • Placebo-effect
  • Mirror neurons
  • Thinking about an event activates your body as if it actually happened.

The above phenomena are an important part of NLP. Yet NLP in its entirety is not yet as scientifically accepted as mindfulness (MBSR), for example. In that regard, mindfulness and meditation have a much stronger – or maybe I should say  better-known – evidence based on research.

On your luck!

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!

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  1. Anonymous

    This is exquisite Rubin! Well done 🙂

  2. David

    A brilliant site. Thank you so much for your effort in presenting it,
    Best Wishes,