So you want to learn NLP...
A quick search on the Internet for NLP and NLP Trainers will provide you with a dizzying array of courses, offers, training gurus and promises of personal power. With such a bewildering range of choices how will you know who to train with and where to get honest information about the real value of the courses on offer?
Here are a few things to help you in your decision.
1) What do you want from NLP?
Not the most obvious of questions to ask, but one that is crucial to helping you get what you want. Some people simply want to know more about NLP and what it can offer. If this is your need there are some excellent resources on the internet which can give you a sense of what NLP is and what it does. Try to avoid the more hysterical websites with promises of personal power, mastery of the mind and compelling conversations.
Look for quality blogs and websites. Inspire NLP, SNLP, Institute NLP, NLP Academy, McKenna-Bandler-Breen, John Seymour Associates are some of the established training organisations and of course Richard Bandler, John Grinder, Steve Andreas, Judith DeLozier are names to research.
If you want a little more information try to attend a one day seminar or introductory workshop. This will give you a real sense of what NLP is all about. If there are no workshops in your area then contact a local NLP Trainer or Registered Practitioner they will almost always be willing to answer your questions or at least point you in the right direction.
If your aim is to use NLP as a part of your work or business or if you want to become a Coach or Therapist of some description then you will need to attend a Practitioner Training course.
2) Not all courses are created equal
You need to understand that there is, at the time of writing, no single accrediting body for NLP. This means that training bodies can be a law unto themselves in terms of what forms the basis of their training. Having said that the three levels of training recognised with NLP (Practitioner, Master Practitioner and Trainer) do have agreed minimum standards in terms of content - the things that need to be taught and understood at each of the levels.
The big disagreement seems to come from the style of delivery and length of each of the courses.
For example you will read about 'on-line' and 'correspondence' courses.
On the plus side they involve a relatively low level of personal investment but on the downside how can you learn communication patterns, intervention techniques and rapport building skills if you're not working with other people under the guidance of a trainer?
You will read about 'intensive courses' running from between 1 and 7 days.
On the plus side you will cover the core elements of the required training. On the downside where do you have the space to reflect upon the patterns and ideas you have learned, let alone be able to implement them with any degree of confidence.
Trainers who offer these 'intensive courses' often make much of the support materials, the pre-learning and the 'speed at which the unconscious mind can learn'. This author and trainer would argue that even with the best materials the personal transformation, internalisation of approaches and re-evaluation of personal values and attitudes is something that requires support, care and time. True the NLP techniques can be learned quickly and easily, but the heart and soul of NLP is something that develops from sharing and exploring experiences with others.
You will read about the 'long courses' of 20 days or so.
These courses may be arranged in a variety of ways - but the focus is always about creating space within the learning to reflect. These course may actually cost little more than the 7 day intensives, but they often involve more work in the form of personal learning logs, a research project and case studies.
Many of the professional training bodies and NLP Associations are coming the conclusion that the minimum training requirement for professional level Practitioner Training is 20 days.
So if you are planning a long term involvement within the NLP community this might be worth considering.
3) Consider the Trainers
Who will be training you?
Many of the 'intensive courses' with 'celebrity trainers' do not give you access to the 'celebrity expert' all of the time. In fact the typical pattern is an opening input from the 'master' followed by some demonstrations. The rest of the course will be led by assistants who guide you through the materials.
Also remember that some of the 'celebrity' run training sessions are in large groups, in large venues so you may be one trainee in 80 or more trying to glean personal, valuable feedback from the trainer.
What is their background?
This is not only about their NLP credentials, but about their specific focus as this will shape the content and 'feel' of the course. A trainer with a sales or business background will tend to draw their examples and anecdotes from those types of experiences and situations. A trainer with and educational or therapeutic background will draw upon their related experiences. If there is a match between your focus or interest with that of the trainer you are likely to get much more from the course.
What you invest in the course is directly proportional to what you get out of it.
There are three kinds of investment here.
The first is financial.
An NLP Practitioner Training Course may not be cheap. Course fees vary greatly, but average around the £2,800 mark for Practitioner Level training. If they are much less than that you may need to ask about group size; the degree of trainer supervision and whether to course complies with minimum agreed standards. (You can find these on the internet, but Inpsire NLP will be happy to send you information on this issue.)
Can you make this kind of investment and will the training organisation support flexible payment options?
The second is about time.
This is not only about the workshop, trainer led training, but about the personal journal and project work required as part of the course. Not all NLP courses expect such additional work. If they do not then perhaps you could question the degree to which the course and the trainer is interested in supporting your learning and personal development.
Can you invest the time to meet the course requirements?
The third is about you.
Are you willing to actively engage ion your own journey? All of the students we have had the honour of supporting through their NLP training at Institute NLP or Inspire NLP have commented on the degree to which the course has 'changed their lives' and their 'relationships with others'.
Not everyone goes onto to become an NLP Coach or Therapist but everyone is changed by the process of learning NLP - are you willing to engage in that change.
4) ASK and you will KNOW!
Most if not all NLP Trainers and Training Organisations are happy to answer any specific questions you may have. Try not to simply rely on their brochure or website. Make contact and, if necessary, arrange a time for a brief conversation.
Ask the trainer...
.... about the support, supervision and one-to-one coaching they can have during the course
.... the kind of workshop activities and learning tasks that will form the content of the course
.... about the minimum and maximum group sizes
.... if it is possible to speak to someone who has attended the training
.... what their past students have gone on to do with their NLP training
.... if the trainer has contributed to publications, research or other trainings outside of their own organisation
Get a flavour of the course leader by talking with them.
You are being asked to make a major investment, the least your trainer could do is to invest some time with you.
Dr Alan Jones PhD, FRSA