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NLP for Health
Advanced systemic NLP for healing the mind and body
The National Institutes for Health (NIH) publishes the following overview of mind-body medicine and "complementary and alternative" approaches that are beyond the scope of traditional medicine:
"Mind-body medicine focuses on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior, and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect health. It regards as fundamental an approach that respects and enhances each person's capacity for self-knowledge and self-care, and it emphasizes techniques that are grounded in this approach....
30 Percent of Population
"Mind-body interventions constitute a major portion of the overall use of CAM (Complementary & Alternative Medicine) by the public. In 2002, five relaxation techniques and imagery, biofeedback, and hypnosis, taken together, were used by more than 30 percent of the adult U.S. population. Prayer was used by more than 50 percent of the population....
"During World War II, the importance of belief reentered the web of health care.... Since the 1960s, mind-body interactions have become an extensively researched field. The evidence for benefits for certain indications from biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral interventions, and hypnosis is quite good....
Coronary Artery Disease
"Over the past 20 years, mind-body medicine has provided considerable evidence that psychological factors can play a substantive role in the development and progression of coronary artery disease. There is evidence that mind-body interventions can be effective in the treatment of coronary artery disease, enhancing the effect of standard cardiac rehabilitation in reducing all-cause mortality and cardiac event recurrences for up to 2 years.
"Mind-body interventions have also been applied to various types of pain. Clinical trials indicate that these interventions may be a particularly effective adjunct in the management of arthritis, with reductions in pain maintained for up to 4 years and reductions in the number of physician visits
"Evidence from multiple studies with various types of cancer patients suggests that mind-body interventions can improve mood, quality of life, and coping, as well as ameliorate disease- and treatment-related symptoms, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, and pain....
"There is considerable evidence that emotional traits, both negative and positive, influence people's susceptibility to infection... Recent studies suggest that the tendency to report positive, as opposed to negative, emotions may be associated with greater resistance to objectively verified colds. These laboratory studies are supported by longitudinal studies pointing to associations between psychological or emotional traits and the incidence of respiratory infections....
Risks Are Minimal
"Mind-body approaches have potential benefits and advantages. In particular, the physical and emotional risks of using these interventions are minimal. Moreover, once tested and standardized, most mind-body interventions can be taught easily. Finally, future research focusing on basic mind-body mechanisms and individual differences in responses is likely to yield new insights that may enhance the effectiveness and individual tailoring of mind-body interventions. In the meantime, there is considerable evidence that mind-body interventions, even as they are being studied today, have positive effects on psychological functioning and quality of life, and may be particularly helpful for patients coping with chronic illness and in need of palliative care.
– National Institutes for Health (NIH): National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), "Mind-Body Medicine: An Overview" (PDF format) prepared as part of NCCAM ’s strategic planning efforts for the years 2005 to 2009. (Section headings mine -- JDH)
As a Certified NLP Health Practitioner, I work with patients to expand their choices and the quality of their physical health using systemic neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), the most advanced approach currently available for mind-body health and healing. NLP uses the brain and nervous system's powerful connectivity and natural patterns, together with imagery, movement, positive attitude, belief creation, and relaxation.
Your Brain As A Gateway
"The relationship between emotion and health is turning out to be more interesting, and more important, than most of us could have imagined. Viewed through the lens of 21st-century science, anxiety, alienation and hopelessness are not just feelings. Neither are love, serenity and optimism. All are physiological states that affect our health just as clearly as obesity or physical fitness. And the brain, as the source of such states, offers a potential gateway to countless other tissues and organs – from the heart and blood vessels to the gut and the immune system." – Herbert Benson, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Julie Corliss and Geoffrey Cowley, Newsweek, 9/27/04
NLP expands this model. When you work with NLP, in addition to focusing on emotions you will optimize broader patterns of thinking and understanding, somatic expression, perception and outlook, supporting beliefs, spiritual connection, self concept, and personal history as you create a healthier mind/body system.
Beyond Guided Imagery
"Anxiety, fear of the unknown, fear of pain, dependency, uncertainty, and helplessness are common emotions which can intensify the perception of pain associated with invasive medical procedures. Physical and psychological stress can also contribute to prolonged postoperative recovery and a suppressed immune system. ...Patients can learn a range of positive skills including imagery, relaxation, self-talk, and positive outcome expectations... Guided imagery may also help patients strengthen their immune system and enhance their own healing." – David S. Sobel, M.D., Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge
All of the skills Dr. Sobel mentions can be helpful. NLP uses these, and makes available a far wider range of tools and techniques you can use to improve your health. When you work with NLP, you are an active participant in full control of your experience and the states you create and manage. NLP has infinite variety in the ways you can apply it, unlike tapes, programs or bio-feedback devices, so you can use what you learn as many times as you like, for as long as you like, and it will always be fresh and new to you.
When you learn NLP techniques, you are learning how to use your own mind and body processes in more powerful ways to positively affect your health at a systemic level.
The "Stress - Illness" Connection
"Science has shown that people's emotional states can affect their health. People who describe themselves as happy tend to be healthier than those who see themselves as unhappy. People who have a lot of stress in their lives are more likely to get sick. Conventional medicine offers little help for these kinds of problems. Complementary practices help ease stress and improve a person's sense of well-being, which may improve the person's health." – Sutter Health Network
"People under intense deadline pressure are six times more likely to have a heart attack than those who don't face such stress... For women, a change in financial status tripled their heart attack risk... Men were six times more likely to have a heart attack after taking on more work-related responsibilities." Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, December, 2004
Stress is a neuro-linguistic response. As early as 1933, Alfred Korzybski observed what he called "semantic reactions" – physiological responses to the meanings we give to events and to our own thoughts. Korzybski was a seminal influence on the creation of NLP which has, over 30 years, developed a rich set of mental and physical processes that significantly reduce stress and increase health and happiness.
In NLP, stress is not, in itself, considered to be a cause of illness, but rather another symptom of a deeper cause – unhealthy patterns in our thinking, feeling and perceiving. In the quote above regarding deadlines and heart attacks, it is not the deadlines which produce stress, but how we think about the deadlines, our subsequent emotions, and our physiological responses which together undermine health. In cases where deadlines are interpreted differently in the mind, "stress" may not appear at all.
As you learn and apply NLP techniques, you will acquire a wealth of better choices in how to use your brain, heart, mind and body in response to life's challenges.
The Mind and Immunity
In 1983, Steven Locke, MD, and Mady Hornig-Rohan, MD, published a comprehensive bibliography, "Mind and Immunity: Behavioral Immunology" referencing 1304 articles and nearly 150 books, book chapters, and review articles linking immune functionality with the mind. During the 20 years since, there has been an explosion of research and evidence supporting this link to the point where it is now a virtually universally accepted premise in traditional medicine. Yet traditional medicine has very limited options for addressing this link.
Researchers have found that loneliness, hopelessness, childhood abuse, deprivation, loss, depression, stress, and other factors negatively affecting emotions increase vulnerability to cancer and other immune disorders.
"By far the most prevalent theory is that the immunologic defenses are weakened, and hormonal and endocrine balances are upset by the biochemical changes that accompany depression, repressed hostility, and feelings of helplessness. If immunologic defenses are weakened, this leads to a sort of 'double whammy.' The body is more vulnerable to the various carcinogens present in the environment, and it is more likely to produce cancerous cells. Also, cancer cells, once present, have a greater chance to multiply unchallenged. ....Studies linking cancer and personality, and cancer and stress, are increasing all the time." – Patricia Norris, Ph.D. (Excerpted from Why Me? Harnessing the Healing Power of the Human Spirit, Stillpoint Publishing, 1985)
"Stress has been associated with abnormal gastrointestinal function, including diarrhea and abdominal pain, and stress-associated gastric ulceration has frequently been documented. Stress can also exacerbate ongoing pathophysiology and often precedes relapses in patients with inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome. The relatively new field of psychoneuroimmunology is involved with the elucidation of mechanisms that explain the link between the central nervous system and immune-mediated pathophysiology." – MC Berin and Mary H. Perdue, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, Ontario (1997)
Berin and Perdue point to the interaction between the nervous system and the immune system, and the evidence for central nervous system control of this interaction.
NLP has long recognized the central nervous system's role as a communication channel between the brain and every part of the body connected to nerves. It is a two-way channel, with messages traveling in both directions. In guided NLP sessions, you work with your whole nervous system to communicate intention, create mind/body agreements, and transform symptoms into pathways for internal cooperation.
Therapeutic NLP is a very successful methodology for the resolution of problems which have a direct bearing on health – childhood-originated problems, core beliefs about health and possibility (hope or hopelessness), grief and loss, loneliness, limiting beliefs about money and wealth, and other deeply emotional issues.
In your work you will take the time you need, typically only a fraction of the time required by traditional methods of psychotherapy, to truly and fully resolve issues related to present emotional patterns, put in place healthier ways of being, and improve your outlook for health and healing.
Immunology, Identity, and Boundaries
Not all mind-related health issues have to do with emotions, or even thinking patterns or neuro-semantic responses. One of the most important areas directly related to the immune system is identity – that is, self-concept, self-other differentiation and boundaries.
“Psychological factors are critical in supporting immune function." – Luc Montagnier, MD, Ph.D., co-founder and president of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, virologist, co-discoverer of HIV, Pasteur Institute, Paris
Robert Dilts, a pioneer in the field of NLP applications for health and one of the original co-developers of NLP, makes a concisely simple observation about the immune system which is relevant to the connection between identity and immune related disease.
"The immune system is the part of our physiology that is responsible for maintaining the physical integrity of our body. The function of the immune system is to recognize foreign, and therefore potentially harmful, microorganisms and their products and to assist with their removal from the body. ...The purpose of the active immune response is to attack and destroy living cells, like bacteria, that endanger the body. In the case of a virus, for example, this means attacking infected cells within our bodies." – Robert Dilts and Judith DeLozier, Encyclopedia of Systemic Neuro-Linguistic Programming and NLP New Coding, NLP University Press, Scotts Valley, CA 2000
The ability of our immune system to attack infected cells and cells that do not belong to us requires, first, the ability to distinguish ourselves from others – who is "us" and who is "not-us" – at the cellular level – as well as our own cells which have been taken over by viral DNA and are no longer operating on our team . This process of cellular identification is strongly connected to our brains and its extension via our central nervous system throughout the rest of our bodies.
If we do not know who we are, if we do not have a very clear sense of boundaries between self and other, if we are confused about what thoughts and beliefs are our own and what belong to, or come from, others, we are vulnerable not only to cellular invasion, but our cells may mistakenly attack us in attempting to do their job. When identity confusion manifests at the cellular level, as it does in cancer, cells may become confused about what they are supposed to do, what their correct role is in their specific cellular environment, whether they should grow or maintain state.
In my practice, clients often come to me with problems directly related to identity and boundaries. These problems affect not only their physiological health, but also their relationships, marriages and families, parenting issues, careers, success, self-confidence and a wide range of behavioral difficulties, ranging from codependency to panic attacks to verbal and other forms of abuse.
When working with identity issues and immune related health problems, we follow a coherent path of NLP exercises and explorations which aid in the discovery of core identity, healthy and appropriate self definition, release of unhealthy emotional enmeshments with others, well-formed boundaries, and health promoting beliefs.
Genetics, Beliefs and Health
"Cellular biologists now recognize that the environment (the external world and internal-physiology), and more importantly, our perception of the environment, directly controls the activity of our genes. We all arrive, at birth, with a complete set of genes, and during the course of our lifetimes we change our genes. All living organisms continually adjust their genetics to their perception of their environment. Our genes will adapt to what we perceive or believe about the environment. Beliefs are the programming.
"The belief that we are victims of our genes, or some kind of genetic automatons, that whole belief system is going out the window. An individual cell is derived from a community of organisms that came together to allow the organism to adapt. More important than competition is cooperation. Evolution is a process of selection of traits complementary to the environment." – Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., Developmental Cell Biology; research cellular biologist at Stanford University Medical Center's Departments of Dermatology and Pathology
NLP provides a powerful set of mind tools for changing limiting beliefs, opening new healing possibilities.
Most of us tend to think of our beliefs as either things that just happen on their own or things that are beliefs because they are inherently true. But we've all had the experience of feeling that something makes sense yet we just don't really believe it. We feel like we either believe it, or we don't, and that's that.
Changing a belief is not like "mind over body" or pounding an affirmation into your head. By modeling how people naturally form and change beliefs, determining the structure of beliefs, and observing the criteria necessary for a person to truly believe something, specific pathways have been discovered for genuine belief change that operates not just at the rational level but, more importantly, at the deep non-conscious levels of a person's emotions and full physiology. At that point, we say the belief is "in the muscle" because no further effort is required to maintain it. It is a fully functioning belief, just like any other belief you've strongly held for years.
Beliefs about possibility, capability and worthiness in connection with health and healing, the connection between the mind and body, and the prospect of hope in balance with realism all have a immense effects on the body – down to the cellular genetic level.
NLP can help you form, and re-form, beliefs which will promote your health and healing.
“Despite all the attention modern medicine has paid to new technology, it has neglected to ask what happens if you pay attention to the rest of the patient.” – Mitchell Krucoff, MD, Duke University Medical Center
"Physicians barely have enough time to ask how patients are feeling... Patients are just pissed off. They're tired of being treated like pieces of meat by impersonal physicians and even more impersonal bureaucrats at some phone screening desk." – Richard Sloan, Ph.D., professor of behavioral medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center
One of the benefits of NLP is attention to the whole person:
"Conventional doctor visits usually last only 10 to 15 minutes. Complementary medicine practitioners often take an hour or more to learn about your lifestyle, background, and habits, including information on your family, friends, diet, activities, and work. Many health problems, especially chronic problems, may respond best to treatment that considers the whole person, including his or her environment and lifestyle." – Sutter Health
"Doctors are not asking about patients' lives, about their communities, about anything that leads to continuity of care. And these are exactly the questions that patients want to be asked and need to be asked. The biomedical and the psychosocial are so intertwined in primary care." – Dr. Wendy Levinson, Internal Medicine, Chair of Medicine, University of Toronto, U.S. News & World Report, January 31 / February 7, 2005
Every NLP client I see gets my full attention during each 2-hour visit. We thoroughly explore you as a whole system, mapping your world and inner territories, strengths and patterns. You are recognized and respected as the unique individual you really are, with your own sets of challenges and resources.
Cost and Safety of NLP
"Stress-related illness often defies conventional remedies, and when we persist with high-tech pills and procedures, the costs of treatment can easily outweigh the benefits. Mind-body medicine offers a saner starting place. If it fulfills half its promise, it could reduce medical costs while improving our health and our lives. And whatever its limitations, it has the advantage of doing no harm." – Herbert Benson, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Julie Corliss and Geoffrey Cowley, Newsweek, 9/27/04
NLP Therapy for heath issues offers outstanding value for relatively low cost. While medical insurance does not cover it, it remains far less expensive than psychotherapy for the results you get because NLP takes less time. Costs of conventional medical treatments, even when covered partially by insurance, can be astronomical – whether they work or not. NLP never runs into an astronomical range. It is a modest investment and the gains can be enormous.
NLP is completely safe. It should not, however, be used as a substitute for traditional medical care, but rather, as a complementary healing process. NLP alternative medicine is also appropriate in cases where traditional medicine has been ineffective or can offer no treatment or cure. While clients are responsible for their own decisions and actions, I strongly recommend that they explore conventional medicine.
If traditional medical care is unable to take care of a problem, NLP is the avenue of choice. NLP Therapy is non-invasive and your are fully aware and in control at all times. Because we pay close attention to your entire system ecology and explore it fully before undertaking any NLP change process, you already know if you want a pattern before you create it with NLP.
As an NLP Health Practitioner, I ask each of my clients to keep me informed at all times of thoughts and feelings as they arise, and any concerns, questions or objections that may come to mind as we map our progress forward and begin taking positive steps toward wellness.
We travel a safe and comfortable path which is both gentle and powerful, on the way back to health.
"Mind-body techniques can improve almost anyone's quality of life." – Herbert Benson, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Julie Corliss and Geoffrey Cowley, Newsweek, 9/27/04
"What goes on in our minds produces huge physiological changes in our bodies." – The Science of Stress, Science Channel
"We metabolize what we think." – L. Michael Hall, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, NLP developer and trainer
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