NLP has taken the therapy world by storm and quite rightly so. It creates rapid lasting change and you don’t need a PHD to learn the simple skills. There are many, many trainers and training company’s pumping out Practitioner by the hundreds and it would be fair to say that there are varying degrees of competency amongst these. I certainly have been amongst those who have argued in the past that some training school are responsible for poor quality NLP training, thus sending out inexperienced practitioners into the world, free to practice in the therapeutic world of the venerable and insecure.

The challenge with NLP in my opinion, is not finding somewhere to learn it, or someone to teach it, but, actually being good at it. For me, there are two factors that can influence the ability of each individual practitioner.

  • Charisma
    Even the most intense, most specialised NLP training course has yet to find a way of teaching this natural elegance to it’s delegates. I’m talking about the elegance that would just ease out of someone like Milton Erickson in an artfully conversational way creating major changes to the listeners’ unconscious mind. Is this a skill that can be learned? If so, how is it taught? Are there people that can never really learn this and are these people practising NLP? Yes of course they are. They are the people who attend the courses to become therapists, yet what they really need is to see a therapist. I’ll never forget, when we first set up People Building and were emailing therapists from all areas to let them know we were on the map. One lady emailed back saying that she was already an NLP Practitioner and had been personally trained by Dr. Richard Bandler and therefore didn’t need to be aware of our services. I had to bind my hands together to prevent the temptation of emailing back “That doesn’t mean you’re any good though, does it?”
  • The Law of Requisite Variety (the person with the most flexibility of behaviour has the greatest influence over others.)
    I remember once when I attended an EFT seminar and met a very interesting bunch of therapists called Guided Self Healers. I don’t know anything about Guided Self Healing, so far be it from me to pass judgement on what they do, but I can tell you that they all seemed to be a bunch of nutters. I sat with them whilst they chatted enthusiastically about what number I was. They were sure I was a 9. I don’t know what being a 9 means, but I also know I am a Pisces (which this week means I’m going to meet a stranger, according to my horoscopes- how difficult can that be?!) I’m also a Goat (Chinese astrology) right handed, visual (mainly) and blonde (naturally dumb).

The thing with NLP is it’s great when you use it with a degree of fluidity. Yes, strategies can work, but a complex strategy may be run unconsciously. If you want to elicit an unconscious strategy from someone, they will become conscious about what they are doing, what happens to the strategy then? Yes, anchors can work, but if the client thinks it’s all a load of poppycock, are they going to experience the state when he anchor is tested? Yes, I’m mainly visual, but probably not when I have my singing lessons. It’s great that this stuff works, but being a true NLPer is about accepting that sometimes you get a different result to the one you were expecting, and to expect that anything else could happen instead. Lets stop putting people in boxes and expecting the norm and instead accept that actually anyone can be whatever they choose to do or be. Only then, can we practice as therapists who truly access all of our own internal resources in order to facilitate changes within the clients that we are working with.

By Gemma Bailey