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NLP Coaching & Training
Solutions for Abused Students & Clients

© Jan Sikorski 2004

NLP began when Richard Bandler and Michael Grinder adapted therapeutic tools and communication patterns used by Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, Milton Erickson and others, to provide a toolkit of methods for rapid personal change.

Ecology of NLP Strategies . Ecology of NLP Techniques

The founders of NLP described it as "the study of the structure of subjective behavior", which assumes that subjective behavior (behavior which cannot be directly observed, e.g. thinking, planning and remembering) has strategies and structures which can be studied and modeled.

The primary developers, Bandler and Grinder, did not define the theoretical aspects of NLP. This allowed other people to introduce a huge amount of unnecessary ideas and/or irrelevant concepts into the NLP toolkit. I have seen NLP trainings advertised for increasing sales, seduction, hypnotic marketing, magic, intuition, better sex and more.

Students may say a NLP course was wonderful - until they gain enough experience and competence to evaluate its consequences and compare it with others.

Martyn's first NLP course was with Greg Cheatwood, a Tony Robbins fire-walk wannabe. Martyn told me that he enjoyed that course - but that when he met higher quality trainers, he identified and kicked out a lot of ideas that had been installed as post-hypnotic suggestions during that first course. Since then Martyn has been allergic to trainings which hypnotically install obsessions and compulsions.

Advertisements for NLP training are usually well written and can be alluring. Yet NLP training can be extraordinarily manipulative. In a world of illusions, NLP trainers can claim high positions for exploitation ... and for manipulating themselves as much as they manipulate other people.

Somebody once asked me, they said, "Isn't NLP manipulative?" and I said,
"Yeah, of course it is." Richard Bandler (from Persuasion Engineering)

NLP Practitioner Certification

In case you're wondering, I was certified as a NLP practitioner. But NLP certification does not imply competence in any skill. On graduation, some of my certified NLP classmates still lacked even basic communication skills. The only meaningful tests I ever encountered were my ability to pay and whether I had paid.

Check the training of a NLP trainer! Was the trainer certified by email or by some audio program? Was it in a short "accelerated hypnotic learning" course? Check who certified the trainer. Check who certified the certifying agency. You probably won't like what you discover.

Check the NLP trainer's experience. Many trainers' entire experience seems to be assisting other NLP trainers ... with no practical experience in the 'real' world. It is worthwhile enquiring - who has paid this person to work for them ... for doing what?

Check the NLP trainer's beliefs and values. Read whatever he or she has written ... is it easy to understand? ... is it tedious repetition of the obvious? ... or is any meaning buried within psychobabble or systemic voodoo?

There is no central organizing body for NLP. Many advertisements for NLP include statements like, "Trainer Registered with the Association of NLP (ANLP)" or "Certified by the British Board of NLP (BBNLP)". But registering with these or similar bodies has little or no meaning. There are only two genuine NLP training organizations - the Society of NLP and International NLP Training.

Hence NLP is difficult or even impossible to regulate. While organizations try to play leapfrog to gain credibility as professional bodies for NLP practitioners, few certificates do more than please students and impress potential clients.

NLP training seems to attract passive aggressive people. A question in a NLP Master Practitioner exam was, "Describe how you covertly used a NLP technique in a social setting."
Do you want to manipulate people? Are you passive aggressive?

On top of this, many new NLP skills are older techniques relabeled and repackaged. Many more are copied and pasted from other disciplines and called great NLP discoveries. Caveat emptor!

Many NLP Practitioners who have attended our master level trainings have told us that their practitioner level trainings were inadequate. They did not know how to coach people to define goals and could not check relationship ecology (the consequences of a specified change on important relationships!)

But relax, in most places, students get certified no matter their competence. It's too expensive and time consuming for NLP trainers not to certify paying students. Most certificates indicate at best that a person kept a chair warm for a requisite number of hours. A NLP certificate does not indicate a person's knowledge or competence.

What's Wrong with NLP training

Your Emotional Health

NLP works ... NLP techniques can change your beliefs and values. And if you don't like the results, it can be hard to undo the damage. Many NLP techniques provide ways by which people can dissociate (not feel / not experience / dis-integrate ) emotions that support beliefs and values using a variety of dissociation and hypnotic techniques that are presented as self-control and willpower.

If you are considering attend NLP training, ask if the trainer practices unconscious installation of competence and skills (that is, hypnosis). If the answer is, “Yes”, consider leaving now. Unconscious installation means that you will not know what is installed during hypnotic programming. Do you want to feel compelled to carry out unknown post-hypnotic commands?

NLP Training & Relationships

The NLP training and so-called NLP therapy that I have witnessed tended to be egoistic and often passive aggressive. It may harm or damage student's and client's relationships.

Much NLP training appears to be oriented towards sales, negotiations and seduction. If winning at all costs fulfils your ideal of a relationship skill ... then NLP may be for you.

Martyn's Soulwork originated in part as a quest to resolve two inter-related aspects of NLP coaching: Goal Definition and Relationship Ecology. Many NLP trainers proclaim competence in these two topics, so it is worth checking their claims.

I have yet to see a NLP trainer or 'master' demonstrate goal definition or ecology during Martyn's courses, although Martyn has asked many NLP trainers and masters (as they like to call themselves) who attend his courses if they would demonstrate their claims or their skills. (See Soulwork Exam)

NLP Presuppositions

The core presuppositions of NLP vary from trainer to trainer. Strangely, the opposites of NLP presuppositions more often seem true. Much depends on how you define meaning, communication and resources.

  1. You cannot not communicate.
  2. There is no failure, only feedback.
  3. Every behavior is useful in some context.
  4. Behind every behavior is a positive intention.
  5. Having choice is better than not having choice.
  6. People already have all the resources they need.
  7. If one person can do something, anyone can learn it.
  8. The meaning of a communication is the response you get.
  9. If you aren’t getting the response you want, try something different.
  10. In any system, the element with the most flexibility controls the system.

In the real world, few people communicate well, many people behave in weird ways, and many people lack essential resources, including genetic, educational, economic and nutritional resources.

NLP & Hypnosis

It seems that most people often use short trances. Most people can intensify these trance states in themselves or in others, using guided imagery, relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, self-hypnosis or hypnotic inductions.

Hypnosis is the intentional induction, deepening, maintenance and termination of natural trance states for specific purposes. Medical hypnotherapy is to reduce suffering, to promote healing, or to help the person alter a destructive behavior.

People who practice hypnosis, unless they are medical doctors, cannot claim to treat or to cure medical problems, unless requested by a medical doctor. Otherwise, they risk legal charges of practicing medicine without a license.

NLP & Ecology

An ecology check seems to be taught in most NLP courses - perhaps asking people, "What could go wrong if you make this change?" Some NLP trainers teach that this eco-check is supposed to remove the chance of unpleasant consequences and even the need for long-term follow-up. Not likely!

See NLP Ecology Redefined by Annegret Hallanzy

Some NLP Trainers

Richard Bandler is a co-founder of NLP with John Grinder and is known in the NLP community for his funny, very direct and often offensive teaching methods.

John Grinder has a background in linguistics and transformational grammar. He studied the language patterns of some successful therapists - Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir and Dr Milton Erickson.

Robert Dilts has authored many books and articles about how to use NLP to enhance leadership, creativity, communication and team development.

Tad James teaches NLP, hypnosis and Huna, usually in Hawaii. He is known for his accelerated hypnotic learning courses and for what he calls Time Line Therapy (although at least two other well known trainers claim credit for discovering timeline therapy).

Heidi B Hottinger teaches NLP in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, for NLP Foyer (Ausbildung für Persönlichkeitsentwicklung). Heidi plans to open a NLP seminar center in Spain specializing in team and managerial training.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Jan Sikorski 2004 All rights reserved

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email