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How to Structure an NLP Coaching Session

Many students regularly want some guidance on how they might go about structuring an NLP "session" whether for coaching, therapeutic, or hypnotic purposes. I'll answer from the perspective of a coach (though I will say that I believe many of my ideas will apply outside of that context).

Begin with a Pre-Talk!

With a new client I usually offer a pre-talk that prepares them for the session, builds response potential and rapport, and innoculates against undesirable results or perceptions. Good NLP work done elegantly would almost never result in any unwanted result, and only offer positive options for moving forward, and a more positive mindset and perspective. However once in a while, a client's tendencies can enable them to blow things out of proportion or revert to unwanted patterns. E.g., if a client has a tendency to focus on the question "What if it doesn't work?" then likely, it won't. Or it will briefly, but then, revert back. What we focus on determines what we get.

With a pre-existing client doing ongoing coaching, I usually begin by asking for a quick report on what's happened since our last session, how things have gone. I praise them for their progress, correct any misunderstandings, and offer adjusted advice if they need any feedback or fine-tuning. I rarely if ever hear from an ongoing client that my previous advice "didn't work," because of course, any advice previously offered was heavily targeted to their filters, values, beliefs, and current capabilities. But I do periodically hear about new previously-unanticipated situations where their other successes didn't bridge over as easily as they'd wanted to the new contexts -- that's common enough. Also, with pre-existing clients, I check in with their larger/longer-range goals to measure overall progress, check for scope-creep (i.e. how outcomes occasionally drift -- sometimes good, sometimes not), and ensure an appropriate sense of useful movement in the right direction.

Ensure Well-Formed Outcomes

Whether with new or existing clients, after any initial exchanges and a quick review of past activity, then I begin the current session by getting/clarifying desired outcomes not only for the current session but also quickly revisit longer-term or larger scale outcomes. I make sure these are and remain, "well-formed." This refers to ensuring goals & outcomes are expressed in a way that maximizes the likelihood people will actually achieve their desired outcomes. Did you know that how you express your goals can make them more -- or less -- likely to achieve?

Sometimes people set the bar for a session way too high (rare, because we can achieve so much so quickly with NLP, but it does happen -- so only once in a blue moon do I suggest a client reduce his expectations for a session).

Often, NLP clients set the bar WAY too low for a session. They ask to help them resolve an unpleasant conversation. I'd much rather help them resolve that one and every similar one from there on out. So I often ask a client to chunk up or think bigger!

Sometimes people will initially ask for a certain MEANS to an end, and what I want to do first in such situations is, interview my way to the primary desired END, rather than focus only on their chosen means. If they tell you the method they'd want to use to get the final end-result, sometimes that's fine, and sometimes that means/method was chosen from an impoverished view of how to get out of their current problem. The means they suggest is not always the optimal way to help them solve their problem. So said differently, I want to help them get the ENDS, whereas I'm not necessarily invested in using their suggested MEANS to those ENDS.

Never Use Scripts in live NLP Sessions. Be Fully Present, and Design Custom Solutions!

From that point forward, what's done with a client is best handled on a totally unique basis. Here's my view as to why:

In my Linguistic Wizardry course, at the end, during my "Village Council" skills-integration exercises, NLP students are given a first-class lesson in how rich and meaningful human communication is (even when it isn't!). Repetitious rounds of that exercise drill... teach students experientially that you often see, hear, and feel within the first 2-3 sentences out of a client's mouth -- all you'll ever need to know about (a) the structure of someone's problem, and (b) an optimal solution for them. 2-3 sentences!

And, if any NLP Coach/Practitioner isn't seeing, hearing, feeling enough information during those 2-3 sentences to plan out most (most, not all) of a client session... then we probably have to blame the NLP marketplace for allowing training lengths & quality to dwindle significantly over time (& thus NLP consumers, for rewarding those providing shorter certification training providers). Again: The information we need about how a client structures their problem and any of several optimal solutions is usually all conveyed both verbally and nonverbally, in parallel, real-time, within the first 2-3 sentences of their communication.

Without question or doubt, the best advice I can offer is... get skilled at ramping up your sensory acuity and awareness, track client patterns, notice what they're not noticing, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and design a solution to get them from where they are, to where they want to go.  Depending on your methods and your particular discipline, that may involve running them through certain techniques, or teaching them new patterns, helping them build a new habit, using hypnotic communication, creating pattern interrupts, working with their timelines, or other approaches.  But the less "cookie-cutter" your solution, and the more unique and targeted you can be when creating solutions for clients, the better.

Ericksonian Tasking

The simplest interpretation of this is assigning your client some homework.  From a hypnosis or NLP perspective, this goes far beyond assigning homework.  It can be as simple as giving them some follow-up research.  It can however be far more enlightening, unconsciously empowering, and it can help a client lock in changes you've helped them imagine.  I adore the idea of using Ericksonian Tasking, and encourage everyone reading this to make an active study of this art.  Brilliant work. 

I would encourage any student of Ericksonian Tasking to consider this very much an art of pattern matching and creativity.  Blending what conscious behavior or cognitive patterns a client presents, with what unconscious behavior or cognitive patterns a client presents, with some creativity for designing metaphorical tasks that a client won't consciously notice or understand the reason for, yet... over time, helps the client get the desired result.  (I would say that at least some of the testimonials I receive are due to a love of this particular skill.)

I would also say that when you have a plan for the client to use over time after their session, they're more likely to feel that you know what you're doing (and naturally, that would also be true, because you're thinking across the larger scope of the client's process.  This is one form of evidence you're operating from a "generative" solution approach, and not just a "remedial" solution approach.


If a session was done mostly with "conscious" communication, and you know for certain a client has enjoyed the session, then I would say it's fine to ask for responses, conclusions, etc., to help solidify the work that was done.  This helps lock in client certainty that progress was achieved.  I would ensure that I ask questions that are very likely to receive a "yes" response.

If your session was done mostly with unconscious communication, and you know the client will not unpack or draw conclusions from a session until after they go home or go to work, etc., then do not ask for their conclusions or ask them any questions to which the answer could be "no."  This isn't because the work wasn't effective, it's because their unconscious minds may need time to process the work, and you don't want to tip the scales in any negative direction while they're processing.  Most of the time, in such a situation, I would not even ask digital (yes/no) questions.  I would ask vague and open-ended questions they can't answer with yes or no, possibly through conversational postulates.  E.g., "I wonder in how many circumstances or ways you'll find yourself noticing these changes occuring in your life?"  "How easily might you be surprised to find these new approaches just happening naturally for you?"  These are future oriented, positive questions/statements that direct the unconscious mind to start expecting the best results.

Finally I would wrap-up consciously, possible with some time-distortion, possibly with future-pacing, list the homework or  tasks or follow-up steps I may have assigned them, and possibly with some suggestions for what they can do if various things happen for them after the session.  This helps them handle the unknown with greater comfort.

Interested in deeper NLP Session skills?

In 2009, I shelved my Linguistic Wizardry course, after training it 30-some-odd times all around the globe.  And as of 2012, I've received enough requests to bring it back.  :)  Why not join me at my next LW course?

Dying Advertising Models

My good friend Andy Preston is a Sales Training Wizard based in Manchester, England. He recently did some training for some Advertising Sales people and shared their complaints about it getting harder to close advertising sales, yet also said they often refuse to consider other sales models that now work better.

My view on sales for advertising sales... is that if you also teach advertising salespeople how to help their clients write/design *better* ads... and then also do some form of risk-reversal, they'd have a veritable FLOOD of clients beating down their door.

Saying "At least break-even on your ad, or it's free" would have potential advertisers stomping on each other to get their ads submitted.  The salespeople would then have to turn some of their advertising clients away, which would then lead to the "higher class of problem" of being able to pick & choose the ads most likely to succeed.

I've never thought the blind "spray & pray" / "pay us regardless of results" advertising model was particularly useful for any side of the equation (i.e. publisher, OR advertiser), except for the highest volume of branding-oriented advertising.  In other words, publishers could actually charge MORE... when the response to ads was higher and justified it. It's pretty well established globally now, that small business owners are willing to pay more for performance-based, risk-free advertising!

One Major Reason Corporations get such LOW Quality Training

Many, many people have suggested to me over the years that I should "go after" this company, or that corporation etc... "They need what you do, man! They pay SO much money for training that's SO far lower in quality compared to what you do." Seriously. Those comments are like an MP3 file playing on repeat.

The reason corporations pay so much for so little, or such low quality, is that corporations play an unbelievable array of games around selection of training providers, that the best ones -- the ones that left Corporate jobs years earlier precisely because of the BS they encounter at the hands of corporate game players -- won't put up with those games anymore.

Games like...

  • Asking you to "come in for discussions" for a while... after which, they invite you back for more discussions.... (unpaid, of course, while they're trying to pry you for your best secrets and training ideas as they go).
  • Asking you to provide extensive proposals... which take unpaid time to produce... which they then send along to your competitors for their paid evaluations, OR for them to come up with a better or more competitive proposal.
  • Spending ages getting you to commit to a certain scope of training effort, and then working their tail off to get you to go beyond the scope of what you promised, of course unpaid...
  • & More...

These games don't happen at the absolute highest level; after all, if a top executive -- THE decision maker -- knows you and knows what you can do, then the decision is made in seconds and the paperwork is left for administrators or lawyers to draw up.

These games happen in middle-management, where the name of the game is "Cover Your Ass." The C-level or VP-level Executive tasks a Director or Assistant Director or Manager with acquiring training, and finding an appropriate training provider. The Director or Manager knows that if they find & hire the wrong person, they could easily lose their job. Which means, they need to find someone who is professional, safe, can provide some benefits, has a documented history, but isn't a maverick who knows how to get things done even if the boat needs a little rocking.

So of course, they take months to find the right person. And they play their games. They go through the time-tested vetting process that is designed, first and foremost, to cover their ass (or if it's a team, their collective asses). And the real problem, of course... is that what most people cannot admit, won't dare to let their superiors know... barely admit to themselves in the dark as they're falling asleep... is that their vetting process causes the absolute stars... the people that would really deliver the best possible value... to walk away, very, very early in that process.

Personally, I know I won't put up with much of the above. One call, maybe two, maybe a couple of short email proposals. But if I'm not talking about scheduling specific training days after the above, I'd sooner refer them on to someone with far poorer training skills, and a lot more tolerance for those kinds of games.

And here's the fatal error in their thinking: They think that if a prospective consultant would walk away because they're not willing to put up with those corporate games during the "interview process," that such training providers wouldn't be right for their company. After all, THEY themselves, and THEIR team members, have to put up with those games -- shouldn't everyone else? Well, there are people who will. And they are NOT the most gifted trainers; they never will be. They are the people who will happily line up with the other cookie-cutter consultants praying for a few crumbs of favor.

So in effect, the people they should WANT to hire... should bend over backwards to hire... are the very trainers and consultants who would walk away at the drop of a hat at any inkling of "cover your ass" behavior.

I had a 1st contact request for training a few months ago where the company asked me to fly 5 hours, spend a hotel night, and then spend a day getting to know their team (like an extended interview). They're wanting one day of training every other month. Just 6 days of training, per year (plus flights in each direction and 6 nights in a hotel), per year. Well, if they were looking for at least 10 days of training a month, MAYBE I'd invest two days of my time unpaid in getting to know them. But for 1 day every 2 months? The fact that anyone would ask or expect that of a highly skilled and reputable trainer, shocks me.

My reply to the above was much like I've given to other similar inquiries over the years:

"I'm grateful you're interested in my training skills and reputation as a highly competent transferrer of knowledge and skill. And I do look forward to potentially being of great and measurable value to your organization. Based on what you sent me so far, I'm certain I can be a powerful resource for you in achieving the stated outcomes."

"That said, if I understand you correctly, what you're initially asking for is for me to treat this as a job interview, or for me to essentially compete for a consulting training project. Please note what you're asking for is, relatively speaking, a very small piece of business for me. All things are relative. I invest my absolute best in every client -- and yet, what I don't ever do is spend a lot of unpaid time relative to the paid piece of business, competing for that business. I simply don't have to.

"So, if you feel you would need it, then I'm more than willing to invest unpaid time in a distance conference call with your decision makers, followed by sending you a single proposal. If you then want to hire me, then you can count on 100% total commitment to deliver the same level of training all my other clients enjoy.

"If by contrast you're looking for someone who will engage in ongoing discussions and repetitious interviews, followed by rate negotiation, I'm certain I can refer your request on to multiple students I've had over the years. While their skills are not at my level, I'm sure they can still add value to your company. If you're looking for cheap, hungry and just competent, they're certainly out there. You can certainly ask them to bend to your hiring rules. However, if you're ready and looking for more, then it's important to understand that higher-end providers of these services have their own rules for how/when they'll take on new clients."

Feel free to discuss -- either the topic -- or my very layered, very influential reply.


Requests for "free" help, by email, or phone...

I thought I'd broach a sticky topic here -- open it up for discussion.

The more free things I do, the more I get repetitious requests for free NLP coaching. Oh, it's not called that, it's usually described more as "oh, just a few minutes to help me out of a bind," or "can I just send you something and have you review it, tell me how to do it better," etc. Let's call it what it is: It's a request for free NLP coaching.

My opinion: It's fine to offer free (&/or risk-free) ways for people to "taste" your offerings, on your own terms. But NEVER agree to offer your valuable services for free according to other people's terms. Then you're disrespecting your self, diminishing your own value.

I received a pair of emails from a gentleman after he attended one of my Online NLP Training Taster sessions. He got good value from attending. He liked my insight, enjoyed the experience. Obviously he felt I had and have something to offer. Because shortly afterwards, he sent me an email in which he described a problematic situation he's in, and asked for my 1-on-1 help, in solving it.

Naturally, I'm grateful for the request, but there was no comment or question in his email suggesting he was asking for help within the context of any business relationship. Just a request for help. So... here's the response I sent:

Hi [name withheld],

I have a lot of ideas based on what little I've heard, I'm also certain I don't know enough yet to be really targeted, and this sounds to me like a personal/business request that could save or may even make you quite a bit of money; in other words, my ideas could be extremely valuable in such a circumstance.

My time is extremely limited right now, and the extent of what free work I do is absolutely limited to the free NLP tasters, during which time I'm giving away ideas on general subjects of use to everyone attending, not targeted NLP coaching for individuals. My intention for doing those is to show how valuable my knowledge/insights is/are, either for generating mutually beneficial NLP coaching arrangements or for leading people to attend longer NLP training sessions for reasonable fees (again, all about mutual benefit).

I limit the number of NLP coaching hours a week I do, to a maximum of 15 hours a week (the rest of my time is spent on web development, editing audio, and writing). At present I have two executive clients who each take 5 hours a week (one hour per day), and typically an average of 2 other single-session clients a week. So I can fit another 2-3 hours a week in for others.

If you're asking me for NLP Coaching or NLP Consulting, we can definitely discuss that. If you're asking for help for free (which I certainly understand), then I'll encourage you to get the most you can from a couple of the free tasters (keeping in mind that I don't let people sign up for "all" of them at the same time -- I like to ensure many people can attend these).

I got a response back, essentially asking for free help, again:

how about this- can i send you a letter that i am writing to them and you read it over and give me your opinion as to the tone, underlying message, percieved emotion, potential response/reaction etc...?

Still no comment about any business relationship (I know quite a number of other coaches would have sent back a rude response at this point, but I don't see any value in being rude about it). Don't be rude. Just be clear, be firm, and wish people well. After all, reasonable people charge for their valuable services, and reasonable people also expect to have to pay for valuable services. I wouldn't ever blame someone for asking for help; after all, it's a compliment. But we are all better served when we ourselves define the terms on how we'll offer/deliver our services.

Here was my reply:

Hi [name withheld],

I'm grateful for the vote of confidence in my knowledge, expertise, and insight, that is implied by your repeated request. And I'm also waiting for the vote of respect for the tangible value of that knowledge, expertise, and insight.

It's always a potential problem when someone sees me providing some "free knowledge" (according to my terms -- as in through tasters, only), and then hopes that I'd be willing to provide free services according to their terms, as in, to help them achieve more specific aims.

I don't think I can be clearer about this: I don't do that.

Establish a coaching relationship with me, and you can show me any letters you want, and I'll provide every ounce of insight and creativity and expertise I can muster towards helping you achieve your desired outcome.

Apart from that, the only unpaid work I do, is through the online NLP tasters, while I'm building a new NLP training system, and attracting more people to the valuable work I do.

If NLP Coaching is not something you either want to do, or can afford, I would understand in either case, and certainly still wish you well.

So there you go. Thoughts?


Strategies to Promote Conscious and Unconscious Understanding

One of the highest priorities while training any material is to present material to both the conscious mind, and the unconscious mind.  All such strategies I know for doing this, begin from a place of working at the process level, while I deliver information & stories at the content level.  Content is "what we say," whereas Process is "how we say it."   Said most simply, Content is the What, Process is the How.

Here are some great NLP methods to "Package Information."

Want to be able to move people from 'stuck-states', to a mindset filled with active, positive, fun, pleasurable, motivated, and effective visualizations? Try these approaches:

  • Move people from modal operators of negative possibility (might not, may not, could not) or negative necessity (won't, will not, must not, should not) into positive possibility (could, might, may) and (in certain cases) positive necessity (must, should, have to, need to, will!).
  • Move people from descriptions of vague and static representations into clear, sensory-specific, & active representations.
  • Move people from terse descriptions of problem states into WOW descriptions and representations of solution states.
  • Use your rate and pacing to increase the rate of breathing in the audience if you're trying to elicit excitement. Use these to slow the audience's breathing down, if you're trying to elicit relaxation.
  • Use dynamic tonality shifts to elicit higher & higher response potential in your audiences. Using my dual-tone vocal technique or my sine-wave tonal process (for example, from my Irresistible Voice CD-set) can induce very deep trance in an audience while they think they're just listening to content.

What if you need to present a high quantity of important details an audience needs to remember?

Begin by intending to package the information from the frame of where/when they're going to need to remember all that information. Ask yourself when/how will people need to recall all that information... and the answer(s) you receive will need to be the opening frame for each big chunk of information. That way, audience members learn to encode/store that information within the frame(s) where they'll need it. If you frame it based on topic, or from an outline structure that makes sense on paper but isn't connected to when they'll need the information, they'll never have high recall when they need it most.

The next important bit is to always use 5 or less chunks at any level. We know people can store 7, plus or minus 2, pieces of information within any given frame, so make sure you limit your chunking threshold to 5. That way *everyone* in the room can maximize their likelihood of total recall.

You may also want to design your presentations using Knowledge Engineering -- specifically the backward chaining process. Ask youself... "What needs to be there at the end of the training, for the trainer to have been highly successful at maximizing every student's achievement and development?" "What do they need to be able to know and/or demonstrate?" Work backward from there. And if you know how long it takes you to functionally train each chunk, then you know if you can successfully deliver (or exceed) a training promise within a specified time-frame.

One thing you may face is when people try to tell you how *they* think they best learn. The problem with this is... most people who do this with you ... are usually in incredibly deep denial (conditioned from years of compensating from exposure to teachers who just don't understand how the human mind best acquires new information and/or skills) and to make matters worse, they've paired that with impatience for anything that doesn't fit their expectations and pattern-matching. In other words, they think they've learned better learning methods, because they had to develop compensatory learning patterns to actually learn something from otherwise poor-quality teachers in the past. And then when in the presence of a highly skilled trainer, they're actually blocked from learning something effectively from a great communicator!!!

Now there are some people who are intimately aware of their own optimal learning strategies. E.g., If a highly trained NLP'er tells me they've got a particular learning strategy preference, I'll usually honor and use their suggestions about how they best learn. But outside of NLP circles? Nope! Instead, I do what I can to convince them I know what I'm doing when it comes to extremely effective training/educating and accelerated learning methods.

Why? Because I'm not willing to train anything badly. :)


I've given you some ideas above to pursue, so -- go explore & use the above & report back sometime!

These are just some of the examples of how people train to the unconscious mind, and if any of you want to learn more nuances for achieving the above, I train many of the above and lots more at my Speaking Ingeniously course.

Drug of Choice Technique - for Feeling Good *Without* the Drug

IMPORTANT: This technique, and people who use it, are not advocating drugs to anyone. We're advocating having increased access to remembered good feelings of any kind -- without the use of any substances at all. In NLP there is a reasonably well known "hypnotic induction" called 'the Drug of Choice' Technique or Induction.  This tends to be really popular at workshops where mature adults get to safely re-experience things they haven't played with since college years.  Coaches and therapists have used this technique to help smokers feel the results of smoking, without breathing in nicotine and smoke.  These are only some of the applications of the technique.

I've detailed this process below for your education and enjoyment.

I've known properly licensed therapists and psychologists who have reported good results using this process with drug users.. to help condition them to stop using the drugs. The reasoning seems to be that if they can access the feelings now without the chemical, that they used to get with the chemical, then the person can lead a healthier existence. Obviously, unless you're a licensed therapist, don't play with this for actual drug users.

Do me a favor and leave the ethics discussions out of this thread and don't presume you know, just from reading this post, what I am or am not advocating. I'm in favor of good feelings -- without needing them chemically induced.

Also, learn these techniques for the process, not for content. You can use this to spin just about any feelings you've had in the past, not just drug-related.

In other words... this could be used to elicit product satisfaction in buyers.  It could even be used for re-inducing sensual and sexual feelings, too... use your imagination, people!

The Drug of Choice Technique

Certainly this sort of thing is best 'shown' or demonstrated live, as there are lots of nonverbals and skills that one can tie in to amplify the results. If you try this and don't get strong results, trust me, it ain't the technique that isn't working, it's your application of it. I get profound results -- with myself or others -- every time.

If my description here, when you try it, fails to generate a strong response in people, then it is those nonverbals and ancillary skills that are the difference that makes the difference.

I say that because the drug of choice, to an untrained eye, is a really, really simple sequence to follow.

But I've seen people follow the steps and get nothing, whereas if I'm talking to someone who has experienced marijuana, for example, 3-5 minutes after I begin, they'll be profoundly high. I have yet NOT to get a strong result with this.

So here's the process, in a nutshell, leaving out all the stuff that is easy to observe, not so easy to type:

If anyone you know has ever asked the question ''Remember when we were SO high...'' the people answering that question might say ''yes'' but they wouldn't experience the drug state, because they were being asked about a completely different state than they're presently in. Any answer is at best going to be dissociated.

However, the drug of choice process aims to give people a clear and rapid pathway into the sensations of having their state altered. It takes the idea of a very different static state, and gives people a pathway into it, that their bodies will remember, given the right stimuli.

So I ask the person to PRETEND to do, physically, whatever the first thing is, that absorbs the substance. If it was Ibuprofen (or Advil(R) headache/bodyache medicine), then I begin by asking them to PRETEND to break up the pill into 10 tiny pieces, and PRETEND to take one tiny piece at a time. In this way they're not in danger of pretending to take more than one actual dose of ibuprofen. If they wish to recreate a marijuana high, then I have them PRETEND to inhale from a joint, or a water pipe, etc.

After they do the PRETEND physical action (which not only becomes their somatic anchor for the start of the process, it actually already IS their somatic anchor for the start of the process), I ask them...

''OK, after a few moments or minutes passes, what's the first thing your body feels?''

And *usually* you get a useful response (sometimes they give out unrelated info -- experience teaches you how to sort for useful info here). And you repeat that back to them, reflecting the nonverbals, going into the sensations, yourself.

Then you ask them to shake it off and go back to neutral again. And when they look normal again, have them PRETEND to repeat the initiator anchor/movement.  Then you walk them through ''a few moments pass, and then, you begin to feel [first feeling],'' and you show them the feelings using their nonverbals and pointing to your & their body to reference each feeling. And go into state to help bring them into it.

Then you ask ''and what's the one next thing you feel?'' etc etc. And you repeat & reflect that back to them.

Then you take them back to neutral.

Each time... you keep repeating the process... And it builds a state/sensation chain in the subject.

Neutral, Anchor, ask for 1st feeling. reflect that back.

Neutral, Anchor, 1st feeling, ask for 2nd feeling. reflect that back.

Neutral, Anchor, 1st feeling, 2nd feeling, ask for 3rd feeling, reflect that back.

etc. etc.

With most people, it only takes 3-6 steps before just firing off the anchor rushes them into state.

And once it's built... each time they fire off the anchor, the faster they go through the chain.

Additional Points/Nuances to Optimize the Technique

Now, here's where all those other skills came into play. If you the leader are neutral the whole time, you may as well not have done it for the poor results that would have produced. You have to lead them into it.

Also, if you were thinking about it at the time, then not only did they anchor the start, but so did you, with or without their awareness (it matters not).

Then you can test your anchor while they're neutral, and see how fast you can bring back their response(s).

Applying this elsewhere?

Now, for discussion, take all this outside the context of the word "drug." Because if you remove the word drug from the title, you can call this the ''feeling of choice'' induction... and use the exact same thing at a coffee date... to elicit what it's like to slip into a jacuzzi and feel so sensually relaxed...

You can whisper the same process while being naughty with a loved one in a public place, to quietly remind them of your private time...

You can use the same thing with a partner who's angry with you for something to lead them into what they felt like when they wanted to compromise... or what they felt like on the last occasion when they had an uncontrollable need to rip off your clothes...

You can use the same process with a group to remind a nonfunctional team how they managed to turn lack of productivity into feelings of teamwork and contribution and success.

The list goes on & on!

Between "Knowing, to Do..." & "Doing, to Know."

Many who know me find me a very outspoken critic of 7-day (or shorter) NLP Practitioner courses, especially those which train more than twenty people at a time. I find such courses to be a dark pollutant in the field.  From what I've observed, these courses consistently produce very poorly trained Practitioners.  (I won't even include "home study courses" that promise Practitioner certification.)

Many other trainers have had the same experience, observing these "7-day Practitioners" showing up at Master Practitioner or even short courses, consistently showing a notable absence of the level of skill and knowledge... that any good practitioner ought to have.

I'd like to briefly explore the fundamental difference between two completely different learning paradigms (slightly oversimplified down to 2 styles, for illustration purposes.)

  • Learning to KNOW... in order to DO.
  • Learning to DO... in order to KNOW.

The 1st paradigm (1st "knowing" and then "doing.") -- is what I see as having been done with most "7-day Practitioner" students. I don't even recognize this as training. I recognize it as presenting, with behavioral integration as an afterthought.

The 2nd paradigm is what I always aim to use, and what I know some other trainers use. With this method, behavioral integration is built into every exercise. Groups don't even move on from one topic to another until they've behaviorally integrated each piece. Granted, they'll likely be clunky after only doing something a few times, but they can DO it -- and then the knowing and integrating comes during & afterwards. This method can be frustrating to those who feel they need outline academic style presentations first... who can't jump into exercises until they think they "fully understand" what it is they're doing. But the experimental nature of this experiential method is what makes it succeed at transferring skills FAR more quickly and deeply than the first method.

This is, I believe, one of the key differences that makes the difference. And "7-day Practitioners" will probably never see it as important, because they "covered all the material." It was in the syllabus. It was covered. And unfortunately, just because it was in the material, and covered, and presented onstage, doesn't mean students behaviorally learned it in an integrated way.

Personally I believe the prevalence of "7-day Practitioner trainings" is evidence of a trainer "selling out."  Because literally anyone can describe all the NLP skills in 7 days or less.  But few if any can train deep skills in that time.

So regardless of the duration of the course you take, I strongly recommend that IF deep skills are what you're after... I encourage you to ask -- no, demand -- that your trainer effectively demonstrate any and every skill he or she describes, creatively, on the fly.  Without "cheat sheets" or notes.  I propose to you that many trainers who run 7-day or shorter certification courses... will not be able to do this well.

Author: Jonathan Altfeld

Date Published:  Feb 3 2010