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Nlp training, the good, the bad and the ugly – how to choose a course

I’ve been working with and training in NLP for nearly 30 years. It’s a fantastic field to be working in, the kind of changes that NLP can create are so uncommon in classic psychotherapy and psychology approaches, for example: phobias are often resolved in a single session, PTSD and other long-standing traumas can be comfortably and simply let go of, without having to re-experience the trauma itself in order to move on; confidence, deep relaxation, creativity, and any other state you wish for, can be developed and recalled at an instant; allergies can become a thing of the past, and so on, the list, surprising and varied as it may seem on first sight, is almost endless.

Training people to effective learn to use NLP clinically is equally extraordinary, as interested and engaged students can learn to reproduce the same kind of therapeutic effects very rapidly.

However recently there have been more and more NLP training courses showing up which claim to be able to turn us all into effective NLP practitioners in a day or weekend, and this kind of overpromising, and under delivering, makes many suspicious of the validity of NLP.

Unfortunately they’re right, NLP can only be a sum of the quality of the practitioners currently claiming to practice it. So if too many people who are poorly trained in the field are unwittingly lowering the general standards of NLP delivery, then NLP’s reputation will be devalued unnecessarily.


I always consider the ‘plumbing rule’; could you be taught to be an effective plumber, in a weekend:-  if you can’t then it’s unlikely you would be able to teach someone to become an effective practitioner of NLP, or anything else that involves helping people make change, with all the complexities of human experience and life, in that short time frame either.

Having trained as an osteopath which involved an in-depth and long-term clinical portion of the training, I was amazed to find out that most NLP courses are non-clinical; meaning your only experience of practicing your NLP skills is on yourself or fellow course participants;  to me this is akin to being a plumber,  turning up to your first bathroom installation job never having seen a real toilet before, and so in the courses that I’ve had designed and taught I’ve always ensured there is a clinical component for those people who want to take the skills and apply to become as a well trained NLP practitioner.

I’m currently involved in designing some robust research into NLP with the School of Psychology at London Metropolitan University, and one of the questions from the research team is ‘How do we know that the practitioners involved in any study will all be trained to the same level and doing the same thing?’ This is a very reasonable and important research question to ask and one that has no good answer as there is currently no standardisation in NLP training – this doesn’t mean that all NLP training are bad at all, most are excellent,  as are the majority of experienced practitioners – after all if you’re not very good or competent your practice is not likely to have longevity as your patients will vote with their feet –  but it raises an important issue if you’re thinking about training in NLP, which is how do I find a good course? It takes a little work but isn’t hard to do, I’d recommend following these top tips to assist you make the best decision.

The first question is ‘what you want from the course?’ Are you interested in becoming practitioner who can work with clients or are you just interested in finding more about this fascinating field?

If you have just a general interest then most courses will be appropriate for you; you will still want to check the trainer has been working with clients using NLP, and has been training NLP, for a number years.

At the moment online courses are considered to be not nearly as good as attending in person although that is changing a bit with the advent of much more interactive online seminars and webinars.  I still think that face-to-face is the most ideal way of teaching. The next best is doing it live via webinar where you can interact and asked questions about what’s being said. The least good option is an online non-interactive training, which will be not much better than just reading from a book and I’d personally avoid these courses.

Don’t be swayed too much by prestigious sounding institutes or affiliations, there’s not just one college or accrediting body so there is no guarantee that a college with a great sounding name will deliver the best training.

If you are interested in becoming a genuinely good practitioner you’ll need to do a course that is more than a weekend and ideally about 20 days of full training over the course of a few months; I would also highly recommend taking a course that has a clinical component – that’s not just working with the course members but working with members of the public with real issues under close supervision.

Unfortunately these kind of longer courses with in depth supervision naturally cost more than the short less interactive or simpler courses; however if you want to invest in a practitioner training you really only want to do it once, and you want make sure you’ve made the best choice the first time.

Finally ask people in the know who can advise you, but make sure they don’t have any financial interest in the course they are recommending, and get to chat to ex-students and the course trainer, and see if you like their style and get on with them.  Luckily many organisations now provide videos (one of mine is at the end of this piece) of these kinds of things online, and also have taster days which give you a chance to see how it really works so you of can get a sense of what it’s like before parting with your money and committing yourself to course.

It takes a little research to find the right course, but it’s so worth it, learning how to use NLP is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my professional and personal life, so if you’re interested in it, get to it, it is genuinely life changing.


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About Phil Parker

Phil specialises in the psychology of health, happiness and genius.

One Response to Nlp training, the good, the bad and the ugly – how to choose a course

  1. Cal Driver says:

    Great post! Thanks so much for helping. A Google search of “best NLP training” yields almost 300,000 results, with no immediately discernible way to figure out which one is truly “best.” This was great information to help me find the actual “best” course for me. Looking forward to taking a face-to-face NLP course. Thanks again!

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