Hale R L: The effects of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) on public speaking anxiety and incompetence.
Dissertation Abstracts International 47(5), Drake University (Order = DA8617682): 93, 1986.
Abstract: Public speaking anxiety and incompetence are common problems for individuals of all ages and social status. While there are procedures documented in the literature which effectively reduce public speaking anxiety and increase performance quality, the treatments can be costly and time consuming. The developers of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) claim their techniques are effective in treating phobias in general and speech phobia in particular, and that such treatment can take place in one session. These claims have not been scientifically tested.
PROCEDURE: Eight introductory psychology students identified as having speech anxiety and incompetence were repeatedly assessed during three or four speech and measuring sessions with behavioral, subjective, and physiological measures. After one baseline speech and measurement session for six subjects, and two baseline sessions for two subjects, four subjects received treatment for their speech problems with NLP and four received treatment with Rogerian oriented therapy designed to be a placebo treatment. For six subjects, the treatment conditions were reversed for the next session, while for two subjects the same treatment was repeated with one receiving two sessions of NLP and one receiving two sessions of insight therapy.
FINDINGS: None of the results favored one treatment over the other. Three behavioral measures tended to not be affected at all, while one behavioral measure showed increased competence in speaking in all conditions, including repeated measurement with no treatment. Subjective measures indicated decreased discomfort across both treatment conditions. Heart rate, one of the physiological measures, decreased slightly across all sessions, but respiration showed no clear trends.
CONCLUSION: Limited treatment with NLP tends to have no greater effect on speech anxiety and performance than insight therapy or simple exposure to the speaking situation.
RECOMMENDATIONS: It could be fruitful to investigate the effects of NLP on speech problems using several NLP sessions or using NLP techniques combined with other treatments. The importance of adequate outcome measurement and subjecting new techniques to investigation is emphasized.