The Myths of Seven day NLP “practitioner” trainings

In recent years there has been growing controversy within the NLP community regarding qualifications in NLP, standards and quality for training and what constitutes appropriate hours for NLP practitioner courses. In this article we explore some of the myths promoted by some NLP trainers

In the NLP community there has been three levels of certification, Practitioner, Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP. In the last few years some organisations have added a Master Trainer certification. And recently we had accredited a formal post-graduate qualification in NLP, the Graduate Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. The Grad Cert NLP is in fact the first formal credential in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. The previous certificates being non-accredited and not recognised as formal qualifications.

To be certified as a Practitioner of NLP a NLP student needed to attend between 20 and 24 days of training. For Master Practitioner an additional 20 days were required and at least 15 days with an apprenticeship period for trainer certification.

In recent years some training organisations have begun to hold short 7 day NLP trainings marketed as “practitioner” certification training. There is a number of myths espoused in their marketing of these short change training programs. Here are some of the myths of the 7 day “accelerated Practitioner” training courses.

Myth 1.” We use ‘Accelerated learning’ so that you can gain NLP certification in only 7 days”.

The unstated subtext they are implying is that trainers of full length Practitioner training don’t use NLP to teach NLP! By its very nature NLP is a technology that when used effectively produces accelerated learning.

Any competent NLP trainer can teach in an accelerated way without the props (coloured pens and music) of accelerated learning rituals. To quote John Grinder (co-creator of NLP) and Judith DeLozier “NLP is an accelerated learning strategy for the detection and utilisation of patterns in the world“.

The accelerated learning argument is just an excuse for a short change training.

Myth 2. “You can listen to a set of course tapes a couple of times and that is adequate instead of a full length training”.

The argument that listening to a set of tapes is as good as being at a live training is nonsense. A fundamental part of NLP is advanced communication with an emphasis on tracking nonverbal behaviour, learning to see subtle shifts in skin colour, muscle tone, posture and gesture. And tracking that in relationship to tone, tempo and words is best learned through live experience. The sequence of training demonstrations followed by supervised exercises is essential for developing skill with NLP.

The argument that tapes are equivalent to live experience is just an excuse for short change training. Even Michael Hall who teaches a 7 day practitioner training advocates full length training and warns against short training!

“Personally, we do not believe in the “correspondence course” approach to NLP or in the short training programs that promise mastery in five days. Instead look for those programs that provide the necessary depth and quality essential for becoming an effective practitioner”. pp. xv-xvi The Sourcebook of Magic by L. Michael Hall and Barbara P. Belnap (1999). It would be excellent if Michael took his own advice.

Myth 3. “Any trainers teaching full length practitioner training are not very good in that if they were good at training NLP then they would do it in 7 days”.

The really excellent trainers in NLP tend to be interested in and committed to NLP and their students. They want their students to be able to apply NLP effectively in their lives. Subsequently they teach comprehensive full length training. The field of NLP is rich in patterns and shortening contact time cuts out essential parts of NLP and reduces skill acquisition. The real question to consider is what is being left out?

The full length trainers are not good at teaching NLP argument is just an excuse for leaving out essential parts of NLP.

Myth 4. “We have the latest development in (or supersedes) NLP. That’s why we can teach the practitioner of NLP in only 7 days. Full length training is out of date”.

Competent NLP trainers are constantly evolving themselves and their comprehensive NLP training. A common strategy used to promote short training is to take some aspect of NLP and market it as a new development. Timelines are repackaged as Time Line Therapy(1), use of logical levels and meta positions is repackaged as meta states(2).

Myth 5. “You can gain 2 or 3 (depends on the NLP training company) certifications in the one 7 day training”.

By carving up NLP into various applications they can be offered as separate certifications that can be obtained during the one short training. “you can have 3 certifications all in just one week”.

These certifications are awarded through organisations / associations owned or controlled by the trainer / “world leader in the field” and have no meaning outside of the particular private company or association. All reputable NLP associations and NLP training providers insist on full length (at least 20 day) programs for practitioner of NLP certification.

In Australia, we have replaced NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner training with a government accredited professional qualification, the 10970NAT Graduate Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and has standards with quality control and thorough assessment!

The Real Benefits of short NLP practitioner trainings

  1. An NLP trainer has more time to conduct more training in a year in more places. How many short ‘practitioner’ trainings can be fitted into a year in contrast to comprehensive full length programs?
  2. A trainer can charge more fees for less work as most short NLP trainings are marketed for a similar price to full length comprehensive training.
  3. Because of what is left out of short change training a trainer can market another course of additional material later as an add on for graduates who want more skills in NLP. Too often graduates of short training don’t know that they don’t know.

The Benefits of the Graduate Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming training

  1. Comprehensiveness. A breadth of NLP patterns are learnt through live, hands-on training involving thorough framing of the material, demonstrations, exercises and feedback and discussion sessions.
  2. Elaboration. Through immersion in the NLP experience and through carefully designed sequencing of the training material, the student is able to elaborate the underlying patterns, processes and skills of NLP richly into multiple areas of application in the world.
  3. Generalisation. The NLP skills become usable in every area of life.
  4. Quality Control. Competencies and assessment criteria are incorporated throughout the entire training.
  5. Real Qualification. Students who pass both the experiential and conceptual evaluations receive a formal post-graduate qualification in NLP that reflects their acquisition of skills in NLP.

(1) Timeline Therapy is a trademark of Tad James
(2) Meta States¹ is a trademark of Michael Hall

Relevant Links

Online brochure for the Graduate Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Link to Steve Andreas views on NLP training standards in his 2001 interview

Learn more

Check our 10970NAT Graduate Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming program.

(Note: If you would like to learn more about the New Code of NLP you can get a copy of  our latest Kindle book ‘AEGIS: Patterns for extending your reach in life, work & leisure’ by Jules Collingwood, NLP Trainer. For only $4.99 here).

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A Brief History of NLP Timelines

NLP Timelines has become an integral model within NLP. In this article Steve Andreas describes how he and his partner Connirae Andreas developed a NLP Timeline model based on their exploration of the application of Submodalities. – Chris Collingwood.

The Evolution of a Pattern

Seminar participants often ask how a particular NLP pattern evolves. Indeed, if we can track how new patterns evolve, we can help point the way to further useful discoveries and developments.

Every pattern has many antecedents, and most patterns continue to be developed and refined after the first successes.

Philosophers have thought about time for millennia, even before Heraclitus said, “You can’t step in the same river twice”, some two thousand years ago. More recently, Peter McKeller’s book ‘Imagination and Thinking’ (1957) included detailed illustrations of some of the different ways that people represent the flow of time as various kinds of lines or paths in space.

People have recognized for centuries that different people tend to be more oriented toward past, present, or future. Edward T. Hall’s book, ‘The Silent Language’ (1959) includes abundant examples – both individual and cultural – but without a hint of why these differences exist.

In the early 1980’s NLP training included the categories of “in time” and ‘through time” as aspects of a person’s relatively fixed “meta-programming” – again with no explanations of the underlying experiential structure.

The Power of Sub-modalities

The concept of submodalities had been part of NLP since the late 1970’s, but they were presented primarily as a way of enhancing experiences. Although association / dissociation was the key element in many of the more effective standard NLP patterns that had been taught for years, it was not clearly described as a submodality shift. It was only in 1983 that Richard Bandler explicitly began to reveal the structure of submodalities in general. He taught how submodality shifts could be used to change habits (swish pattern), change beliefs, and create motivation or understanding, and how submodality thresholds could be used to break locked-in patterns like compulsions, or to lock in new changes. In short, he outlined how submodalities comprise one way of understanding the underlying structure of all experience.

We were so impressed with the power and generativity of this approach that we immediately began to ask ourselves, “What else is there that we don’t yet know about”? We were convinced that submodalities had more potential than previously recognized in the field. We asked ourselves, “What would happen if we investigated the submodality structure of Meta-Program sorts? What about finding the underlying structure of time, and of being past, present, or future oriented.

Innovative Thinking

One way innovations occur is by taking two or more separate paradigms, putting them together, and finding out what emerges. That’s what we did with meta-programs and submodalities. This thinking led to the Criteria Shift pattern, and changing internal and external reference, as well as timeline work.

Putting “time orientation” with submodalities had far more potential than we guessed in advance. We discovered that different people had widely differing timelines, and that the shape of the timeline in space not only determined whether a person was ‘in time’ or ‘through time’, past, present, or future oriented, but determined many other aspects of personality as well.

We found that by changing this spatial representation of events in time, we could make profound and very pervasive and generative changes in personality and orientation – without changing the individual events located on the timeline. We combined the patterns we had learned from Richard with these additional ones we’d discovered to form the first Advanced Submodalities Training in March, 1984.

In many NLP patterns, we had noticed that location is a very powerful “driving” submodality; it is significant in timeline work, criteria change work, and belief change work, and in aligning perceptual positions. It was Robert Dilts who recently offered us an interesting way to understand this. He pointed out that all three major representational systems overlap; in location. Colour, for example, is only in the visual system, pitch is only in the auditory system, and temperature is only in the kinaesthetic. However, all sights, sounds, and feelings have some location in space. Changing the location of a representation is often more powerful because it changes all systems simultaneously. This is the basis for the powerful impact of changing the location of one’s perspective in association / dissociation, and its detailed refinement in physically aligning the three perceptual positions; Self, Observer, and Other.

At the June 1985 NANLP conference in Denver, Colorado, Steve made a three-hour presentation on timelines, entitled “Just in Time”. Among the participants were Wyatt Woodsmall, and Leslie Cameron-Bandler, who commented at the time on the usefulness of this new approach.

In his VAK interview (Fall 1991) Tad James comments, “I learned about time line from Wyatt (Woodsmall)”. When Steve first met Tad in October 1986, we had been teaching about timelines in public seminars for 2 1/2 years. At that time, Tad described to Steve his work with selecting individual traumatic experiences on the timeline, and reorienting the person on their existing timeline in regard to those experiences in order to change the person’s response to them.

NLP Timelines in a Nutshell

Often people speak of NLP timeline work as if it is one thing. However there are two very major types of timeline work, both very useful. One set of methods has to do primarily with utilizing the existing timeline. The method described above is one example. You can change a traumatic memory on the timeline by reorienting in time, or by adding in resources, etc. The “decision destroyer”, developed a few years later by Richard Bandler is another very impactful approach. These methods have in common that you don’t need to know very much about the person’s existing timeline to use them with full effectiveness.

An entirely different category of timeline work has to do with changing the structure of the Timeline itself. In doing this kind of work, you find out in detail how a client’s timeline is now structured, what he wants to have different in his life, and then reorient the timeline so as to support the kind of person he wants to be. When the structure of the timeline itself is changed, the person literally lives in a new relationship to all his experiences in time – not just the traumatic ones, or the resourceful ones, but all of them.

For instance, most people have their timeline arranged so that the future is somewhere in the same quadrant as visual construct. This allows us to creatively construct alternative futures that are rich with possibility. However, some people see their future in the visual remembered quadrant. One typical result of this is that their future representations are relatively specific and fixed, because they have to use remembered imagery to represent the future. This can result in much disappointment, since future reality seldom conforms to the inflexible and constrained expectations of visual memory.

If the past accumulation of disappointment is resolved, the person will feel better in the present, but will continue to experience that the future is rigidly fixed, because they are still seeing it in their visual memory quadrant. One man who had this kind of arrangement commented, “This makes perfect sense: “change history” was always really easy for me, but it never made my future different because that was still fixed”.

Resolving past problems is no guarantee that they won’t recur in the future. However, if the future timeline is changed to the visual construct quadrant, the person will begin to make future images that are more creative and variable, and more responsive to changes in the world around them, resulting in far more generative possibilities and far less disappointment.

Although it is quite easy to change a person’s timeline, it takes some experience to know what kinds of changes might be most worthwhile to try out, and any changes need to be tried out very tentatively, with full attention to ecology. Changing a timeline is literally reorganizing all a person’s life experiences, so it must be done with extreme care and sensitivity to be sure the resulting changes will be generative. For some examples of how to elicit an change Timelines, see our books, ‘Heart of the Mind’, ‘Change Your Mind and Keep the Change’, and Connirae’s new videotape ‘Changing Timelines’ (1992).

First Published in the VAK International NLP Newsletter Vol 10, No 1. Winter 1991-1992

© 2000 Steve and Connirae Andreas

Elicitation and multiple application of Timelines is included in the syllabus of our postgraduate qualification in NLP – 10970NAT Graduate Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

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