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  • Investigating the Use of Neuro-Linguistic Programming in Clinical Voice Disorders.

    Claire Bunce MRCSLT Spring 2013

    USA and Canada Winston Churchill Memorial Trust


  • Acknowledgments.

    Firstly I would like to thank the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust for awarding me the Fellowship and understanding the importance of my project. It has been the most amazing experience, so much has come out of it and I know that this is only the beginning.

    Many thanks also go to all the people who so openly responded to my original emails and generously gave of their busy time to meet with me. I have learnt so much from you and was so impressed with the work that you do in your various areas. To the various extended family members and friends I stayed with and to all the nameless, wonderful strangers I met along the way - THANK YOU. Whether it was carrying my far too large suitcase up a broken escalator, giving me a lift when it appeared no public transport ran between two points or sharing food and stories with me on various buses, planes, and park benches - I appreciated you all.

    A massive thank you to my family whose love and belief in me has given me the roots and wings I needed to get to this point and beyond. To my husband and best friend James - I love you. Thank you for being my rock.

    One final little acknowledgment ... thank you to my unborn baby who travelled quietly everywhere with me. You didn’t make me sick, your first kicks filled my heart with love and I cannot wait to meet you in three weeks time!


  • Index.


    4! Itinerary 6! Abstract 8! Introduction 10! Neuro-Linguistic Programming 11! Clinical voice disorders 13! Current issues within the NLP community 14! Current issues within the voice community 15! Findings 29! Conclusion 30 ! References 31 ! Appendix 1 - Article promoting the churchill fellowship and my project 32! Appendix 2 - Article on the use of NLP in SLT 36! Appendix 3 - Agenda of Mindfulness Conference


  • Itinerary.

    15.04.13! ! Plane!! London to New York

    16.04.13! ! Meeting! New York: ! ! ! ! ! Patricia Angelin (Founding Instructor of The Alba ! ! ! ! ! Technique)

    17.04.13! ! Bus! ! New York to Boston

    18-20.04.13! ! Conference! Boston: 11th Annual International Scientific Conference ! ! ! ! ! in Mindfulness

    21.04.13! ! Train! ! Boston to New York

    22-24.04.13! ! Meeting! New York: ! ! ! ! ! Hillel Zeitlin (Psychotherapist. Director of the Maryland ! ! ! ! ! Institute for Ericksonian Hynosis and Psychotherapy) ! ! ! ! ! Rachel Hott (NLP trainer. Director of NLP Center of New ! ! ! ! ! York)

    25.04.13! ! Plane!! New York to San Francisco

    26-28.04.13! ! Meeting! San Francisco: ! ! ! ! ! Dicken Bettinger (Psychologist) ! ! ! ! ! Ami Chen Mills-Naim (Director of the Center for ! ! ! ! ! Sustainable Change) ! ! ! ! Chantal Burns (NLP trainer)

    30.04.13! ! Plane!! San Francisco to Vancouver


  • 01-18.05.13! ! Meeting! Vancouver: ! ! ! ! ! Linda Rammage (Principal Speech and Language ! ! ! ! ! Pathologist - Vancouver General Hospital) ! ! ! ! ! Elsie Spittle (Co-founder of the 3 Principles Foundation)

    19.05.13! ! Plane!! Vancouver - San Francisco

    20-25.05.13! ! Meeting! San Francisco: ! ! ! ! ! Sarah Schnieder (Lead Speech and Language Therapist ! ! ! ! ! at UCSF Hospital). ! ! ! ! ! Christina Hall (International trainer of NLP)

    26.05.13! ! Plane!! San Francisco to London


  • Abstract.

    I travelled to the USA and Canada for six weeks to investigate the use of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) in clinical voice disorders. In my work as a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) I work with adults with clinical voice disorders and my area of interest is psychogenic voice disorders. This is when a person presents with disordered or absent voice where the cause is not primarily physical but psychological. Whilst traditional voice therapy can achieve normal voice, if the underlying issues have not been explored, the results can be short-lived. Since training as a Master Practitioner of NLP I noticed that there could be real potential to using NLP techniques with this caseload. These could enable the patient to benefit not only in their voice but also in other aspects of their life e.g. improvement in general confidence. Whilst there has been a steady increase in interest and acceptance of other psychological approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy there is very little written about the use of NLP in SLT. NLP was founded in the USA and there is much going on in the areas of investigating and integrating psychological approaches into the field of health. I wanted to find out how this was being applied to NLP and SLT and how I could bring this back to the UK.

    Before my travels, I researched extensively and contacted many professionals in the fields of NLP, SLT, Medicine and Psychology including Doctors, Clinicians, Teachers, Researchers, Authors and University Lecturers. Whilst on my travels, I attended practical study days, clinics, therapy sessions and meetings so was able to learn from direct observation, questioning, group discussion and presented research. Very surprisingly it became apparent that contrary to what I had originally believed, there was not a well connected network between NLP and SLT. Furthermore I was unable to find any specific group or therapist that was promoting their work in this area. I was very fortunate to be able to meet with one of the original students of NLP who has dedicated much of her professional life to investigating and using NLP in health (Suzi Smith - Author of ‘Beliefs - Pathways to Health and Well-Being’) who reminded me of one of the key presuppositions of NLP - ‘NLP is about the process NOT the content’. This gave me the confidence to continue with my project but to expand my vision of who I was able to learn from. I did not need to limit it solely to SLTs who work in the field of voice disorders and NLP but was free to learn from anyone in the areas of NLP or health. This meant that I may not have been able to copy a blueprint of how NLP is used in clinical voice disorders in the USA and Canada but I was able to generate my own from combining all of my learnings.


  • I found that NLP in the USA and Canada was not being used as commonly or as openly as I had first thought. After it’s beginnings and initial surge in popularity in the 1970’s, various conflicts within the founding community caused this surge to stall and splutter. Whilst it ‘jumped’ over the ocean and spread to the UK, Europe and Asia (where it is becoming increasingly popular) it failed to continue it’s huge rise at home. It would not be accurate to say that NLP is not being used, indeed there is some groundbreaking research being done with NLP in many areas including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as part of the recently formed ‘NLP Research and Recognition Project’ but rather that many ‘new’ approaches being used may look, sound and feel like NLP but are not ‘billed’ as NLP. Despite this history, when I spoke to people in related fields to NLP, rather than being cynical they were very interested and eager to talk more about its possible applications and where they could go to learn more. When I asked Jon Kabat-Zinn (founder of the eight-week based Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course) for his view on why NLP had failed to continue it’s rise in the USA, he told me that he felt it had not been integrated into any particular structure or setting.

    As far as to whether NLP can be effectively used in clinical voice disorders, the answer is wholeheartedly YES. However whilst it is widely accepted that NLP is about the structure and not the content and that it can be used in any setting and with any person, I feel that the NLP community needs to learn from it’s past. The content of the structure is in fact very important and should be made clear in order for it’s use to be replicated and developed in different contexts.


  • Introduction.

    I am a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) who works in the specialism of voice disorders and am also a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). When I started my NLP training three years ago I was working for the NHS in a large teaching hospital in the outpatient department of Ear Nose and Throat (ENT). I became interested in the use of NLP in voice and started investigating what had been written about work in this area. Through extensive searches, I discovered that whilst there were a few UK based SLTs using NLP in their area of interest, including stammering, voice and lecturing there was minimal literature (a few small articles) on it and no formal collaboration between the individuals. The idea for the title and location of this project was born from my wish to investigate this further and knowing that America was the ‘birthplace’ of NLP and was frequently ahead of us British SLTs in terms of new approaches.


    My aims were as follows:

    I. To investigate if/how American and Canadian Speech and Language Therapists are using NLP, particularly in relation to clinical voice disorders

    II. To meet internationally leading professionals in the field of NLP and Speech and Language Therapy to share ideas and experience

    III. To increase my understanding of how NLP techniques can be used in the healthcare setting

    IV. To explore whether there are any barriers in using NLP techniques in the heal


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