NLP Practitioner FAQ - Choosing an NLP Practitioner


When searching for an NLP Practitioner, there are bound to be questions on your mind. Unfortunately most people don't want to look stupid, feel comfortable asking the questions, or risk offending the Practitioner.

Working as an NLP Practitioner in and around London, it's funny how in my conversations with potential clients the same issues come up over and over. This article addresses those questions you may have when seeking an NLP practitioner for the first time. If you have any other questions that I haven't covered, then please contact PlanetNLP and I will answer them here.

What kind of issues can an NLP Practitioner help with?

NLP can be used for many issues, from confidence to weight loss, from compulsions to smoking cessation, but this does not mean that it is a panacea to all problems.

It’s an unfortunate aspect of some NLP Practitioner trainings that they leave the practitioner thinking they can fix anything. Working with individuals on an NLP Practitioner course is not the same as working with members of the public with real problems.

The easiest issues to solve with NLP are issues that are context specific. For instance, a Flying Phobia has a very clear context, where as Social Phobia may occur is a number of contexts and is often more complex being based on any number of beliefs, memories, and mental states.

This complexity will obviously affect the ease with which a practitioner can resolve the issue.

That is not to say that an NLP practitioner cannot help with Social Phobia - they certainly can - but that it may involve many more interventions and adjustments than a more specific problem.

And don’t forget that NLP techniques are not only used to fix problems, they can be used to improve things that you are already good at, such as take an average golfer and make them an excellent golfer.

So here is a short list of common problems that practitioners may offer help with:

  • Weight Loss
  • Motivation
  • Confidence
  • Decision Making
  • Social Phobia/Anxiety
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Compulsions
  • Interview and Presentation Nerves
  • Breast enlargement (yes really)
  • Phobias ( I define a phobia as any stimulus that gets a strong negative response that makes you move away - quickly. Anything from spiders to baked beans).

What does an NLP Practitioners certification mean?

When looking for an practitioner, you will probably come across many different forms of NLP Certification.

You will come across people with titles such as NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner, Confidence Coach, NLP Trainer, Personal Development Specialist, Time Line Therapist, NLP Coach, NLP Therapist, and the list goes on. So what does it all mean?

The basic NLP certification is the NLP Practitioner, followed by the NLP Master Practitioner.

Both enable an NLP practitioner to help their clients with many issues.

The main difference between the two certifications probably comes down to flexibility and experience.

Both practitioner and Master Practitioner certification have the same foundation of skills including rapport building, anchoring, and hypnotic language.

On top of that an NLP Practitioner is taught a toolbox of techniques to use in particular instances, where as an NLP Master Practitioner has also been trained to develop techniques themselves.

This difference can be quite clear during a session.

An NLP practitioner may spend a session trying to find out which of their tools to use for a specific issue, whereas a master practitioner may be more free form and create an intervention on the fly.

As to the other titles, these are usually chosen by the individual to help with their marketing; There is no internationally recognized training to become a Confidence Coach, or a Personal Development Specialist. These titles are used simply to differentiate the practitioner from others or to imply a specialization.

There are several specialized NLP trainings for practitioners such as Time Line Therapy and Neuro-Hypnotic Repatterning to add new concepts and tools to the practitioners toolbox.

There are also courses providing specific applications of NLP for people wanting to improve their lives. The Mythogenic Self process developed by Joseph Riggio is one such training. While some of these trainings are useful, they are not developed to fix specific problems, but are more about generating new behaviors and skills in the person taking the course.

From a clients point of view, an NLP Practitioner or Master Practitioner certificate is the most relevant. Experience dealing with the issue you wish to resolve is also very helpful.

How can I tell if an NLP Practitioner is any good?

This is an interesting question.

Judging an NLP practitioner level of skill is difficult unless you've had experience of several, and know a little about their methods.

As an NLP Master Practitioner I tend to judge a practitioner by listening to the way they speak, and by their ability to effect me quickly and effortlessly.

It helps that when a practitioner is asking me questions prior to any kind of NLP intervention, I have a good idea as to where my responses to their questions are likely to lead.

If an NLP practitioner doesn't pick up on these as I expect, I am concerned.

As a potential client, it's a little more difficult.

Prior to booking a session, you should check the following:

  • What trainings has the Practitioner taken?
  • Who has the Practitioner trained with?
  • How recent is their training? (Have they been using NLP for very long, and are their trainings current?)
  • Do they have any client testimonials?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself after your first session:

  • Do I feel confident that the session has changed my behavior in a positive way?
  • Was I given evidence that change has occurred?
  • Is it clear where my Practitioner is going to begin if I return for another session?
  • Did I have many "moments of realization" during my session?
  • Do I understand my "issue" better than you did before?

This may sound a little negative, it's not supposed to. There are some truly great and life changing practitioners.

It's just very difficult to judge a practitioner unless you have some experience of what they are doing.

Must I like my NLP Practitioner?

Many people would argue that if an NLP practitioner cannot get really good rapport with their clients, then they are not good at NLP.

This is based on the idea that rapport is one of the most important skills within NLP, so if you don't have that skill, then you don't really have anything.

But …

If a practitioner is highly skilled, they may have a reason not to use rapport. There may be a good reason they want to make you feel differently about them.

For instance they may want to make you feel uncomfortable or they may be antagonistic. Now, admittedly this is not very common, and if you are unsure then if you are comfortable it makes sense to mention it at the end of the session.

On the other hand, if a practitioner acts in a way that makes you doubt their skills or feel that you cannot trust them and you don't feel you can discuss it with them, then they are not for you.

How many NLP sessions should I book?

One thing I am very clear on is that if an NLP practitioner wants you to sign up for a large number sessions, then they are probably trying to get their moneys worth out of the arrangement rather than anything else.

This is NLP not hypnotherapy.

NLP is supposed to be quick, and if a NLP Practitioner doesn't make any progress in a single session, they probably aren't going to make any progress - ever.

If you do require multiple sessions, the practitioner really can’t judge this until they start to work with you, so any setup other than a session by session approach needs a pretty good reason behind it.

Some practitioners provide a free session up front to give an idea of what they can do, and to find out about what issues you want help with. There is nothing wrong with this and if you are unsure of seeking help or if NLP is for you then this is a good idea.

You should at least have a phone conversation to understand what the practitioner can provide, and for the practitioner to decide whether they think they can help with your issue.

Personally I prefer to work assuming two sessions. One session to decide what work to perform, and deliver the interventions, and then a second session to test my work, and make any adjustments.

If further sessions are required, then it is during these sessions that this would become apparent.

What is an NLP session like?

NLP sessions are not like a normal therapy session.

Remember, the NLP practitioner is trying to help solve a problem, not act as a best friend (See Must I like my Practitioner?).

Many clients come to a session, and want to talk about everything they believe may be relevant, and while the client may give the practitioner useful information in this way, most practitioners want to direct the conversation more.

The practitioner is like a detective, trying to piece the bits together and find out which interventions to perform.

Most of the session will probably consist of question and answers with occasional exercises interspersed as required.

Something worth knowing before seeing a practitioner, is that many NLP techniques can be used without the practitioner knowing the content of the issue. For instance if you have a memory you can't get out of your head, that makes you uncomfortable, or is embarrassing it will not be necessary to explain the issue to the practitioner.

If your issue is something you are wary of discussing with anyone, then NLP is definitely the thing for you.

Some Practitioners may also use hypnosis during a session, some won't.

Many practitioners, myself included, like to finish a session with a short hypnosis session (See Do Practitioners use Hypnosis below if you are concerned about this), as it's a nice way to leave the client feeling great at the end of a session.

Do NLP Practitioners use Hypnosis?

Yes, some NLP Practitioners use hypnosis in their sessions, while others, depending upon their trainer do not use any hypnosis at all - well not on purpose.

Personally, I like to use a short trance towards the end of the session as a booster and to tie up any loose ends.

Hypnosis and NLP techniques complement each other well, because NLP provides the sniper rifle, while hypnosis provides a more shotgun approach.

In other words NLP techniques tend to be very specific, whereas hypnotic language tends to be used in a more vague way to allow the client to take whatever meaning is most relevant to them at the present moment.

Many people are concerned about hypnosis, mainly due to a concern about losing control, or maybe due to scare stores that occasionally appear in the less educated press, but there really is nothing to worry about.

We all drift in and out of different trance states all day long, the only difference with hypnosis is that the state is directed by the hypnotist, rather than being due to tiredness or focusing on a specific task.

If you are still concerned then you should mention it to any potential practitioner.

And anyway, if you do end up clucking like a chicken - the effect is only temporary.


See also:


Previous comments

How much should I pay?

I have spoken to several NLP practitioners and master practitioners, all of whom have said that they can help me. What is a reasonable price for a session? Are NLP therapy sessions usually an hour?

M.Wilson, New York

Posted May 8, 2010 at 11:41

Not sure

Most practitioners I know work by the hour. Some will specify a longer session for the first meeting. As to price, I cannot give you figures for the UK. Best thing is to email a few and see what prices you are offered. And remember, cheap is not necessary good.

Chris Harrison, UK

Posted May 14, 2010 at 21:49