NLP is an abbreviation for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It is a method used to modify our thought patterns, feelings and behaviour. The Neuro-Linguistic Programming method can be used by Neuro Linguistic Practitioners and masters, in individual or group therapy, in jobs and career development, for relationship building, in schools etc. - as well as a self help tool people can use for their own self improvement and growth. This method of programming our brains has been developed from research on the relationship between neurology, linguistics and observable patterns of human behavior.
This self improvement technique was developed by John Grinder and Richard Bandler in the mid 1970's. We can hardly say that this mind programming method represents a pathbreaking new psychological theory but more a collection of already known theories, tools and techniques for changing out thinking and behavioural patterns. The neuro linguistic approach is fairly pragmatic since it is more important that the techniques work, even if it is not supported by a theory. There are mind altering programming methods that may not work for everyone. The thought is that if one technique doesn't work on you, you try another one until you find one or a set of techniques that are able to do what it is expected to do.
Neuro linguistic programming is all about substituting unwanted and dysfunctional thinking and behavioural patterns with new and more functional ones. Everything we do creates certain neurological patterns in our brain. The more we repeat a certain thought or mental pattern the more fixed it becomes. When we have repeated it for years it seems natural, even though it is dysfunctional and doesn't make us happy at all. Take for example smoking or over-eating. The challenge is to erase the old thinking and behavioural pattern that led us to feel pleasure by smoking or over-eating by associating pain to it and replacing it with a new pattern associated with pleasure. You accomplish this by re-programming your mind.
This was only a short introduction to Neuro Linguistic Programming and was in no respect meant to explain all the details about the theories behind it nor the different techniques or exercises. More details will follow later.