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How to choose an NLP Practitioner course?

Some things to look out for and questions to ask

Quite often people ask me what they should be looking for when choosing an NLP Practitioner training course, so I’ve got round to writing my answers down at last. I want to emphasise that this is my personal view, and I’m not speaking for anyone else and certainly not any official body that I’m a member of or accredited by.

The article is written for someone in the UK looking for NLP training; conditions in the US and the rest of the world may be different, but I believe most of the article will still be applicable.

When selecting an NLP training course, you may want to consider the following questions:

1. What is the emphasis of the course?
Some NLP Practitioner courses are therapy-oriented, leading (eventually, after more training and a lot of supervision and client hours) to UKCP accreditation, others are business-oriented. Most NLP practitioner courses are ‘generalist’ – you learn NLP skills which you can then apply to ‘turbo-charge’ what you already know.

2. How big is the course?
Some courses have over 100 students in the class, others are small-group courses with a group size as small as 12. You may already have a feeling for what size of group you would prefer; if not, it’s worth taking a moment to check within yourself.

3. ‘Intensive’ or ‘Extensive’?
NLP courses can be either ‘intensive’ (7 or 10 day courses, sometimes but not always supported by many hours worth of audio home study) or ‘extensive’ (20 days with 120 ‘contact hours’ of training).

Audio home study products typically use a lot of hypnotic language to get the information across at the unconscious level as effectively as possible. The upside of this is that you can absorb a lot of information in a short time, and you have the audio to refer back to.

A possible downside is that you can also find yourself unconsciously absorbing a lot of the beliefs and even mannerisms of the trainer (this is one reason why you may hear graduates of some UK NLP courses coming out with American expressions or sounding a bit ‘transatlantic’).

You may be fine with this if your belief system is already in line with the trainer’s; otherwise it may cause a bit of ‘cognitive dissonance’ or confusion until your conscious and unconscious minds have sorted out between them what you actually want to believe.

4. How is the course structured?
Some ‘intensive’ courses run for ten days straight, others for one weekend a month over ten months. Generally when people decide to do an NLP Practitioner training, they want to get the qualification sooner rather than later. Some trainers will say that two days a month is really too short a time to get into the “NLP mindset”, although spacing the training out over monthly intervals does give you the opportunity to try out and integrate what you have learned from each module in the real world.

5. How much access do you get to the trainer?
As you might expect, the rule of thumb is that the smaller the course group, the more opportunity you will have to ask questions of the trainer. Larger courses tend to use ‘assistants’ (previously qualified NLP practitioners or master practitioners) as “coaches” to help the students and provide one-to-one answers – this can work extremely well if you get a good assistant. Some larger courses even use assistants as a ‘barrier’ between the trainer and the students, presumably to stop the trainer being ‘bothered’ by pesky questions.

6. How much are NLP Practitioner courses?
There is quite a wide range of pricing, from subsidised courses under £1,000 to £3,000 or more. You will often see websites and advertisements for NLP training reframing the price as an “investment”, and it is! Any decent NLP Practitioner training will repay itself many times over, provided you make the most of your learning experience and actually use what you have learned.

7. How much does the personality of the trainer matter?
It’s vital! NLP Practitioner trainings tend to work at a deeper level than conventional skills training courses. Trust between trainer and student is essential; if you don’t feel at ease with the trainer, you won’t be able to learn nearly as much.

If at all possible, meet the trainer or talk to them on the phone before you sign up for the course. After all, you will be spending a lot of days in their company! At a minimum, they should be able to put you at your ease; if they can’t, what does that say about their rapport skills?

8. Does accreditation matter?
There is no overall ‘official’ body setting standards for NLP courses. Most training institutes will be affiliated to the body that trained their trainers (e.g. the INLPTA, Society of NLP, and the American Board of NLP). The closest thing to an independent accrediting body in the UK is ANLP International, although it has a long way to go before it speaks for the whole of NLP.

© 2007, Andy Smith. All rights reserved.

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