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Is there Life and Learning after Master Practitioner?

March 1, 2013
Especially if you don’t want to be a trainer or therapist?Do we, as a field, have any plans for this?*

Maybe you’ve done your training, you’re still excited about learning NLP, but somehow never get round to really challenging yourself to take your learning to the next level?

Or you’ve done a couple of the shorter courses and you believe, and in some cases have been told, that you are pretty much ready to call yourself an expert? (yikes!)

Maybe you just don’t know there’s anywhere else to go?

This is just a little 8 point, incomplete ‘manifesto’ of thoughts and hopes for more and better continuous personal and professional development in NLP.

It’s about proposing that successful NLP  requires a bit of elegance, subtly, agility, sensitivity and flair and this tends to take more than a few days, weeks even months of training to acquire for most people… not a rocket science position I know and also shared by many in the field.

I want to get  Practitioners interested and excited about their achievements in NLP and to be able to perceive and want what’s longer term, further up the road in terms of developing their creativity with NLP and  starting to acquire a kind of simplicity, spontaneity and light touch born of skill and knowledge.

Working from skills and first principles.

Think Picasso, think Ella Fitzgerald…

Advanced NLP  – Mastery and Artistry – is primarily based in further skills development and refined practice – a quality approach to growth and learning.

(This is in contrast to accumulation of techniques, or merely number of training days.. a quantity approach!)

1. We can debunk the myths of ‘instant’, effortless learning and create a description of the  scope and range of advanced NLP which aligns with its history and intentions – drawing on work from Bateson, Grinder, DeLozier, Dilts et al.

2. We can encourage practitioners to identify, experience and leverage distinct areas for development in their NLP skills – using a basic model of the core Practitioner curriculum as a shared reference for an ongoing guided self assessment.

3. We can intentionally enthuse and inspire practitioners to want to commit to high-quality, continuous professional development in the field.

4. We can more precisely situate NLP as the unique field which is historically part of, currently contributing to and draws together in a practical applied form, much of the leading research in applied psychology, – i.e. not a cult or ‘pseudo-science’ (!) – and give practitioners confidence and pride in the intellectual foundations of their training and expertise relative to other approaches.

5.We can interest practitioners in related skill sets i.e. from acting and theatre, from Alexander Technique and body work, from Zen and mindfulness etc. and offer some ways into a more sophisticated somatic as well as emotional intelligence.

6.We can place warm-heartedness at the core of our practice – following Satir and others.

7.We can bring out a fundamental good humour in our work, joy in life and contribution and service to others.

8. We can create a shared ‘road map’ for future practice and generative, creative development in the field.


At the moment we don’t really even have a shared ‘map’ of key skills.. certainly not the essential EQ type stuff –  relational, self aware, sensitive to feelings, tuned into self and other etc.

And if you say ‘somatic’ actually even many trainers don’t have much of a reference – we don’t as a field emphasise  being/ having a body, developing skill and distinctions with movement and expression, sensing and experiencing information and communication in the body.

NLP is often conceptualised and taught as primarily a cognitive series of techniques… that you do to yourself and others. The term ‘programming’ has always been a bit of a problematic one which sometimes leads to this error.

We have the skills-label ‘calibration’ and yet the biggest complaint you hear about NLP from a client-type perspective is basically that the NLP person didn’t notice they weren’t enjoying themselves, or just got it wrong for them somehow… not intentionally just clunky, unskilled, unrapportful, annoying.

I think at least one of the things thats happened is there’s a kind of weird muddle somehow in our field.

Because there really are some things we can do,  which are relatively quick and don’t take much training to learn, and which still look like magic to outsiders who don’t share our models of the structure of inner-world representations, this has been generalised by some people that everything we do requires virtually zero training.

Our claim to ‘quick and easy and instant’ can so quickly, easily and instantly rebound on us when we come up against a more complex, multi-level, systemic type of issue.

Bizarrely we’ve set ourselves up as the field for which you don’t really need any training.

As I often say more in sorrow etc – we must be the only field that actively denigrates the acquisition of it’s own skill base.

Just look at all the marketing which basically says ‘Why waste your time actually learning NLP?’

So is there life and learning after Master Practitioner? 

I’m still excited by NLP, the ‘Bigger NLP’ , that is not always so visible, that allows someone to learn not just lots of cool and clever stuff, but also promotes a kind of expansion of being, a richer, wiser relationship to self and others and a humble and profound personal experience of living and contributing in our beautiful world.

I hope we can offer this experience to our Practitioners too.


*Of course there are lots of wonderful NLP Practice Groups.. including ours at  and also the Crown House NLP Conference in November and the ANLP Research Conference in July.


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  1. Show me the dotted line, I’ll sign up to that manifesto

  2. Judith

    Thanks for a very thoughtful summary of the current reality. Sadly there are many organisations out there espousing the “learn NLP so you can go out and teach NLP” school of thought. I personally use it in everything I do as it is now a part of who I am yet don’t force it down everyone’s throat as a great cure-all. If people like what I am doing and ask then I tell them and share if they are receptive. I also agree that we should emphasise the developing of caring and empathetic attitudes regarding the use and promotion of NLP. But, how best to try and move forward with this excellent manifesto.

    Practice groups are a great grass roots starting point to remind people exactly why they started with NLP in the first place – before they got buried in techniques.

    We have an excellent practice group in Cardiff

  3. Arthur permalink

    Great article, and I agree, agree.
    Robinson Jeffers speaks about divinely superfluous beauty. Now I suggest that this is where we want to aim, through our techniques. This is the level (logical, post vision) that will put us in contact with our divinely beautiful self. Are NLP Trainers equipped at this level? Are they in touch with their own divine self? I’d say that the majority (even some well known figures) are not.
    Note: I am not using “divine” here in the sense of a personal god, but in the sense of an energy field in which we are all participating.

  4. Boom! Thanks for writing this. I agree with what you have written and some of it was like kcicking me with a size 10 where the sun don’t shine! I’ll be sharing!

    • Hi James not sure if your reply is serious ?! It’s ok either way! Thanks for sharing too.

      • Hi Judith,

        I don’t know how ‘serious’ my reply is either as I admitted in good humour that your article had a positive effect on me. I have at times succumbed to the instant fix ideal which, while it has its place, is a very inflexible place to come from if that’s all a person has.

        some of the most exciting experiences I have had are when things haven’t gone to ‘plan’ and a persistence in discovering something that negates the need to work towards a predefined expectation takes over.

        I thank you for writing an article that has kicked me up the backside to step out of my over inflated self more often. Despite the initial sharp sensation of hob nailed boot on flesh, which lets face it smarts a little, the resulting experience is definitely a more fun and less dogmatic one.

        I very much enjoy applying the patterning and I’m a big fan of getting the core acuity skills more and more refined and with that continual process underway discovering new patterns.

  5. Andre Chiasson permalink

    Thanks very much. I agree with what you’re saying and it applies to me. Learn so you can teach seems like it isn’t going anywhere. Becoming a better human being with (in the current parlance) an up-to-date OS seems to be a good starting point.

    • Hi Andre , thanks so much for your comment – yes, ‘become a better human being’ is what I really think NLP is about! We under appreciate the potential of the tools and skills we have and the contribution we could be making.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to post.

  6. Joe Booth permalink

    Judith, I absolutely agree. There are so many occasions when I realise (and probably many more when I don’t) that I am behaving less skillfully than I know how to.

    The PPD practice groups are something I miss so much that I attempted to start something here in Abu Dhabi. So far I haven’t found enough interested people to make it happen. If anyone reading this wants to get in touch they can reach me at

    • Hi Jo, really good to hear from you, glad you found this useful.

      I feel part of my current focus is on attempting to communicate that NLP is more than just a bunch of techniques as is presented in many ‘practitioner’ courses.

      Our practice group as you know is more than just practicing the techniques that people know from their training – it’s often an evening devoted to Applied NLP. We like to present new models and processes too and hope to encourage people to appreciate that NLP is fundamentally innovative.

      Anyhow I am currently ( it’s a secret!! Sssh) working on a compendium of some of our most fabulous evenings..including my own ‘Presentations’ material and contributions from Joseph, Simon H , Paddy, Lynne etc.. As well as some overall guidelines for running a group…. Watch this space!

      Hope all is well with you… Thanks for taking time to comment – it’s nice to know you’re enjoying your NLP .. Hope you can get others to join yr group . I know there are people there interested.

      If it was nearer I’d come as a guest for you!

      Best wishes to you.. Let me know how you get on.

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