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NLP or CBT for Anxiety?

“Hi, I have anxiety… In the past, I’ve tried hypnotherapy, tried CBT, EFT, EMDR as well as psychodynamic therapy…do you think NLP could work?”
I can’t say how many times I’ve been asked this type of question.
The answer of course is, sure the technique matters and will make a difference but there is really so much more going on in the frame of a therapeutic encounter than just a set of techniques.

For example…

  • There is the relationship between the client and therapist.
  • therapist’s personality and style
  • therapist’s mood at time of session
  •  timing of the therapy
  •  client’s comprehension
  • therapists comprehension of the issue
  • client’s cooperation
  • other distractions (what’s for supper tonight?)
  • the weather
  •  physical health/ level of physical comfort at the time of session
    Etc etc.

The answer being the effectiveness of therapy is hardly just dependent on ‘what technique do you use?’
Chances are you’d be better off exploring the therapist’s background, read articles they wrote and have a brief phone conversation with them.

As always, feel free to comment below.


  1. I’m sure it helps if the therapist uses a good method. And if the therapist helps the client learn new ways of dealing with challenges so they don’t need to go to “anxiety” so often. “Hello, I have anxiety” sounds like someone who is unusually attached to having ‘anxiety’ and uses it as a solution to many problems. I hope this doesn’t sound condescending. But for therapy to be effective, a therapist has to release the conflict between wanting the end the anxiety – and still needing it, to solve some other problem.

    • Thank you for your comment Rochel.

  2. When someone has ” tried hypnotherapy, tried CBT, EFT, EMDR as well as psychodynamic therapy” it’s often the therapy they want; not the cure. They like the attention they get. They like talking about themselves; telling their story. They like to know that someone else is thinking about them, concerned for them and wants good things for them.

    They are sometimes referred to as therapy junkies. I prefer to think of them as ‘therapy tourists’. They are most easily spotted by their habit of happily listing all their prior therapy failures in a way others might list their successes (because for the therapy tourist, failure IS a success – they get to go on visiting more therapists).

    Thus not only would NLP not ‘work for them’. Nothing will work for them if they can possibly help it because, actually, they would rather keep getting their regular (non-)fix of therapy. (The participation in therapy does, of course, fix other issues in their lives, usually related to their identity and sense of self.)

    It is not necessarily entirely correct to break them out of this pattern; make them abandon their therapy habit and accept to be treated successfully for their anxiety. For that to be appropriate a] the therapist must be certain that the patient really does want be rid of their anxiety, and b] the therapist must be certain that they are not simply giving the patient what they – the therapist – wants them to have.

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