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Pilot study using Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) in post-combat PTSD

Lisa Wake (Psychotherapist, based at Awaken Consulting & Training Services Ltd, Northallerton, UK)
Margaret Leighton (Science Writer, based at, Cambridge, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 2 December 2014




The purpose of this paper is to determine if neurolinguistic programming (NLP) tools and techniques were effective in alleviating the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in clients from the Military and Emergency Services.


This project ran at the “Healing the Wounds” charity in Bridgend. All clients were opportunistic, having self-referred to a charity specifically set up to support Veterans from the Armed Forces. In total, 29 clients from an initial cohort of 106 clients provided pre and post data using Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) and the NLP Wheel of Life scale. Interventions included a range of NLP techniques, addressing self-reported symptoms.


Differences between DASS scores before and after treatment are very highly significant. t-test analysis infers that these results are indicative of the overall response from the clients in this study.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations of the study include: client group; significant levels of incomplete data for the total study group; therapist effect and therapist training; treatment methodology.


Data suggest that NLP has potential as a therapeutic tool in the treatment of symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with a self-report of PTSD. An observation is proposed that these candidates experience an improvement in their emotional state when NLP is used which is statistically significant (p<0.001) both for overall DASS score averages and also for each of the three DASS categories (Depression, Anxiety and Stress). Stress was the highest scoring category prior to treatment for these clients; the reduction in their stress symptoms contributed most substantially to the overall reduction in average DASS score, indicating an improvement in their emotional state.



Kevin Richards (Healing the Wounds) gave access to the data and contributed to amending systems to enable capture and transfer of data for analysis. Carol Richards and Rachel Phillips contributed to providing the therapeutic intervention. Dr Susie Linder Pelz, Dr Rick Gray contributed to editing the draft paper. Authors of the paper undertook this work in a pro-bono capacity as volunteers of the NLP Research and Recognition Project (


Wake, L. and Leighton, M. (2014), "Pilot study using Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) in post-combat PTSD", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 251-264.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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