Once upon a time, two guys at UC Santa Cruz asked, “Never mind what therapists say they do, let’s find the very best, see what they actually do, then try it ourselves? If we can get the same results, that’s great. And if we can teach other people to get the same results, we’re done. And it’s 100% practical — no theory, just results.”
These two guys were John Grinder and Richard Bandler, and they studied the most conspicuously successful therapists of the day — gestalt therapist Fritz Perls, family therapist Virginia Satir, and hypnotherapist Milton H. Erickson. Soon they were able to both duplicate some of these therapists’s successes and teach others how to do it. They called the process “modeling” and their new grab bag of techniques neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP.
Why a grab bag? If you test a bunch of things and keep the stuff that works, you end up with a grab bag, not a beautiful theory. In some fields, theories are the gold standard.