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How To Research NLP Training

It seems there are strong feelings within the NLP community about what is "good" NLP training and what is "bad" NLP training. I'd like to share my thoughts.

I think that there are many opportunities for people to get excellent training in NLP, and yet some people base their decision of where to go on geographical location or convenient time frame, assuming that all NLP Practitioner Trainings are created equal (after all, they all have the same name). This can be a big mistake!! There is such a wide assortment of quality and course content in this field, so taking a training based upon location or time is a bad move. It's best to decide on the training you want, THEN figure out what you need to do to get there.

There are diverse philosophical differences and a variety of values and beliefs surrounding NLP training. An important distinction is to first realize that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to "do" NLP, it's just that some NLP centers get different results than others. The results that the trainer gets is what is important. The quality of the students they produce is the measurement of a trainer. Not time in business. Not how many people attend the program. Not how much money they make. Not how slick their website looks. Not how many articles or books they've written.

What matters is the results the people who attend the seminars are getting. People should be looking for NLP training that is "right" for them because each training is suited for different types of individuals. All it takes is a few phone calls, a few reference checks, maybe some web surfing and you will be able to find the training that's right for you.

I have put together a list of things people may want to consider when looking for NLP Training. I welcome your suggestions, ideas, discussions, additions, etc.

1. First, clarify your outcome for taking the training. What are you hoping to achieve? Be honest with yourself. Do you want to have power? Do you want to help people? Do you want to make some personal changes? Do you want to have a certificate? Do you want to have better communication skills to get ahead in your career? Does your wife/husband tell you to need to change? Do you have therapy issues that may be better solved through one-on-one therapy? Do you want to influence others? Do you want to be more motivated?

2. Do NOT spend all your hard earned money on an NLP training before researching thoroughly at least 3 or 4 training institutes.

3. Consider posting a referral request to alt.psychology.nlp. This newsgroup can get pretty raunchy at times, like many newsgroups. I invite you to ignore the negative stuff and just look for the gems (your first NLP lesson!). Post a note asking people for advice on who's training you should go to and for what reason. Read your replies and then begin researching those institutes. This is not an end-all, but a good way to start anyway.

4. Surf the web for NLP web sites. Read entire web sites if you have the time, especially the sections "about us" or "our philosophy". Notice which web site "speaks" to you and your reasons for attending the training. Do not look at location or dates until you have selected a training institute. Making a decision based on dates or location alone is sure to get you an inferior or mediocre training. Just think about it -- not only will you be investing a great deal of money and time, you will be spending 4-20 days with very influential people -- what kind of people do you want influencing you? These people will help you shape the way you think about NLP, about making changes, about interacting with others... we'll get into this deeper a little later in this article.

5. CALL THE INSTITUTE during their office hours. Talk to a human being on the phone. If you must leave a message, how quickly do they return your call? Send an e-mail. How quickly and how politely do you get a reply (to be sure they received it, send two)? Size them up. Do they respond to your questions with politeness? Do you like their attitude? Do you feel excited to attend? Do they use NLP to sell you? If so, do you like the approach? Do you feel like you are being "sold" or do you feel like they are considering your needs and fitting you to the correct program? Are they high energy or low energy? These questions help you judge basic customer service skills. If you are not getting good customer service over the phone, then you will not get good customer service at the workshop. Most often, the same people who talk to you on the phone control the seminar logistics. That means if they are sloppy or hurried on the phone or do not return your call, that will be the same service you get at the seminar. TELL the institute WHY you want to take NLP training (from question 1). This is very important! They should be able to clearly let you know if you will be able to achieve this outcome or not during the training. If they cannot accommodate your requests, ask them if any other NLP institute that they know of specializes in this area.

6. What about the number of days the course takes? There are practitioner training programs out there that range from 4 days to 28 days! Wow! Here are some guidelines to help: Generally speaking, the longest programs are more "chunked down", meaning chunked into smaller pieces and dished out at a slower pace. Longer DOES NOT mean that you'll learn more material. The other extreme are the short programs (less than 5 days) -- these are the most obvious -- there is a basic set of practitioner skills that couldn't possibly be covered properly in that short amount of time. Balance is the key. Consider quality before quantity of training time. Also consider class hours, but only briefly, because it really is not that important. A 14 day program that meets every day from 9 am - 9 pm is around 140 hours. A 28 day program that meets 9 am - 4 pm and has weekends off will compare at approximately the same classroom hours. One class is fast paced, one is slower.

7. Is it FUN??? I got a call the other day from a man that told me his practitioner training was boring... I couldn't hardly believe it! I know that I wouldn't want to spend all that money and time if I was bored through the whole thing! If there is one thing that learning NLP has done for me in my life, it was to end boredom forever... I've added more laughs and joy in my life because of learning to "play" and "learn like a child does" in my practitioner training. You will learn 300 times as much if you learn how to have fun while you are doing it.

Or worse... I have heard of NLP trainings where more than half of the class time was spent attending to people who were crying and uncovering all kinds of bad feelings. I've also heard of trainings where the students were afraid or too intimidated to ask questions! It seems to me that we are already skilled enough at feeling small or unhappy, what we need is trainings that teach us how to feel confident and full of life!! :-)

Changing behaviors can sometimes be challenging, but it still should be a fun experience. If NLP isn't about making the gray matter between your ears rock and roll, then you are doing it wrong. Practitioners should be bringing more joy and bliss into other people's and their own lives, instead of uncovering shame, past trauma and wounded inner children (These are serious issues and should be handled by a professional psychologist). The training environment should be a welcoming place where you feel safe and at home, rather than feel fearful or intimidating. Learning NLP should be a delightful, laughter-filled experience; one that you will remember forever.

8. Many training centers try to be everything to everybody. The fact is, they all are usually better at one thing or the other. Some are better at teaching therapists to do better therapy. Some are better at getting people to change themselves rather than to "do" NLP "on" someone else. Some are better at teaching people persuasive communication for business. Some are better at techniques. Some are better at language patterns. Some are better at the methodology.

Ask the training center, what are you good at? What is your specialty?

9. Who are your trainers? Also ask about guest trainers. Do they have a new trainer every couple of days? If so, what happens to them, do they leave, or are they still a part of the program? It is important to have one main trainer or group of trainers who are present throughout the entire course. One of the reasons this is important is so that the format of the class can be changed in response to the groups needs. If you have a new trainer every couple of days, the course content will be rigidly adhered to -- more like college or a conference. If the class needs more time in a particular area, they won't be able to change the schedule to accommodate this. Same if the class is fast-- the trainers won't speed through those topics, causing mass boredom. So make sure you have one main trainer or group of trainers. An intern who is present throughout is not good enough in my opinion because they are not experienced enough to recognize learning patterns accordingly in the students. You are paying for an experienced, high quality trainer, not an intern with a few years experience.

10. How many people are allowed in the class? This is important to consider because if you attend a class of 300+ people, you probably are not going to get much personal attention, hence your learning will be affected. What is the optimal size? (My personal opinion is that a certification course should not be any larger than 45, but you need to judge that for yourself.)

How involved is the trainer with the students? Does the trainer "get on stage" and do his/her speech from there and then leave at breaks? Or does the trainer spend time with the students after class and during the class? Can students ask questions? How are questions handled? These are some other eye opening questions to ask the institute.

11. Beware of trainers that claim they will INSTALL everything into your head and you won't have to do anything. If that were possible, then you would be able to learn how to drive a car by attending a seminar where the trainer hypnotizes you and then you walk out with the ability to drive. I wouldn't get into that car, would you?

While hypnosis may help you to learn more quickly, it does not replace the activity of DOING. If you hear people say, "I had a great time, but I don't know what I learned" - this is your first clue that they were trained by an "Installer".

The other question is, "What exactly are they installing?" Did you ever consider what the underlying messages are? If you are an advanced student, pick up a copy of their tapes and take notes -- what does that story s/he is telling imply about the trainer, about the student? This question will get you more information than any other thing you can do. Do the stories, metaphors, tales, commands lead the student to learn and discover things on their own, or do they serve to boost the trainers ego?

Some people may not want to hear this, but mastering NLP takes longer than a 4-20 day class. It takes practice in the real world. There is a TON of material that you will pick up and use during the training and other things that will take some time to master. This is a normal learning process. Training is the beginning, not the end of learning.

You will learn far more from a trainer that teaches you how to learn things in a new way so that you will go out into the world with a new ability to learn and absorb material. This way, you will have developed something that will last forever, rather than a feeling of motivation that will fade over time.

12. It is a common occurrence in the NLP world to reduce an NLP principle to a formula, or set of procedures or steps, and instruct the person to simply follow the steps. This is a really good way to market something and make lots of money. And it's also a great way for a trainer to reframe all responsibility for really teaching people something valuable - what they produce are a bunch of people going around trying to figure out "what to do when" or "which technique will work to fix this". Personally, I'd rather have my students out there thinking things like "I wonder how easily this can be accomplished?" or "How incredible can I feel today and how contagious will this be?" or "What new, creative opportunities will I discover here?"

A training needs to be designed for mastery of the underlying principles and ideas that NLP is founded on - modeling, models for learning, language and attitude. Why? Because these are the things that you miss when you try to learn NLP from a book or a tape program. Informational learning, or learning a set of techniques can easily be accomplished by the products on the market - and there are lots of NLP products to go around for everyone. So why spend your time and money on a training that is basically going to reiterate everything you've already read about? Instead, spend your time in class with a training institute that understands this and creates experiences in which you will soar!

13. A great question to ask the certification organization is, what happens if a person doesn't get certified, but still wants to? Do they have to pay more money and do more training? Many training centers just give a certificate to everyone who pays their tuition. Find out what their standards are. Do they certify everyone? How many people last year didn't get certified and why? The answers will be enlightening.

14. Ecology is a misunderstood notion in the NLP Community. Everyone seems to have their own idea about what it is and why it's important. I think it's an important issue because people are in awe of the power of the technology and can immediately see the potential for abuse. Even though it is often mistaken as such, ecology doesn't have anything to do with being nice. It has to do with considering the whole system before you influence it to head in a specific direction. It means traveling in advance. It means that you know the result and the implications BEFORE you go messing around inside someone's head.

I once heard about a trainer who (in front of everyone) took a person who wanted to quit smoking though a FIVE hour six-step reframe (with a break for lunch) and the guy ended up leaving the entire training talking about how he couldn't get the voices in his head to shut up. The trainer told the class that he wasn't "ready" to change!!!! This is NOT ecology. This is someone who didn't know where she was going when she went into the forest and then got lost (my guess, back in her own issues and agenda). Ask the people you are talking to about ecology and find out what they say.

15. BUY their tapes and compare them. If you don't want to spend a whole lot of money, usually trainers offer a 1 or 2 cassette program that can be purchased for under $20. If you can afford it, get a longer program. The tapes will let you experience the trainers style and you will know better how you will enjoy (or not enjoy) the actual training experience.

16. If the training center seems satisfactory to you, take the next step and ask for phone numbers or e-mail addresses of past customers. CALL/WRITE them. Ask them what they liked about the training and what they are doing differently as a result of the training. What did they learn and how does it impact them? How long ago did they do the training and what results are they still getting? What do they think about the character of the trainer/s? What other NLP trainers have they experienced? Can they compare trainers that you are considering?

It amazes me how many people register for workshops without checking references. Sure, some may say that the institute is not going to give you unhappy customers as references - that's true. However, you will notice a vast difference in the quality of references between different institutes and this will let you know who to train with. If an institute is reluctant or refuses to give you references, then forget them.

Also, check credentials of the trainer. There are "trainers" who advertise on the internet who haven't even received an NLP training! They studied it from books and bestowed upon themselves the title of NLP trainer. Some will tell you they have a certificate, but when you ask them where they were trained and by whom, they do not have an answer. Avoid those who refuse to give you information about where and with whom they have trained.

In conclusion, I'd like to say that there are a lot of wonderful training opportunities out there and they are all very different and unique. Pick trainers and institutes that value learning - that want to help you stretch and grow. Choose the one that is best for you, your lifestyle and your outcomes for taking the program.

To me, NLP is not about having cut and dry answers for everything in life - its about asking better quality questions. It's artistry - things working together in concert. A skilled practitioner is one who is an insatiable learner, someone who never claims to have all the answers or who touts their certificates like they are the proof that they now know all there is to know about NLP. NLP isn't a magic pill with six steps. "Life change" doesn't exist because life is not stagnant; it's a process. What does exist however, is a way of continually growing, learning and changing every day of our lives, getting what we want along the way, while moving in the direction we want to go. It is about being happy and realizing we are the creators of our experience in life.

Hope you have found this interesting. Your comments are welcome.

   

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