'Fast Track' or 'Accelerated' NLP Programmes...
... the emperor's new clothes?
There are lots of differences between 'accelerated' NLP courses and thorough full syllabus NLP training programmes - and the key difference is in your level of real NLP skill after attending.
For around nearly decades the NLP Practitioner Certification Training programme involved a minimum of 120 hours.
In these workshops you learned from experienced trainers and you learned actively and interactively:
You discussed - and questioned critically
You practised what you learned with other participants and
In the better programmes you had on-going access to, as well as personal guidance and coaching from, Certified NLP Trainers.
It worked really well. It was thorough and engaging and respectful of the adult learners in the programmes.
They weren't students - they were participants.
120 hours is a tight squeeze!
At one stage, around the late 70's to early 80's, the material that the NLP trainers were including in the Practitioner Training got to be too much to pack into this time frame of 120 hours.
So they designed a 'Master Practitioner' training programme to take the additional material. (Incidentally this is how the Master Practitioner Certification Training Programme began - more as a receptacle for additional material rather than an 'advanced' version of the Practitioner. That said, nowadays a good Master Practitioner training will also include training in the ability to think and perceive at a more profound level)
The original 120 hours has always been a tight squeeze.
Ask any trainer who uses the original style full-length, full-syllabus NLP Practitioner training course - they will tell you that it's a tough job getting all of the current syllabus into this time frame, that is if you wish people to have time to:
- Practise the skills
- Ask lots of probing questions
- Learn from one another's experiences
- Discuss their experiences
- Explore the practical applications of what they have just learned.
Each of these stages is essential to a thorough learning experiences.
Hearing an entertaining and charismatic speaker describing the material doesn't result in an enduring learning experience. Nor does watching a skilled trainer demonstrate the skills.
It's the time-consuming interacting that 'wires in' the learning.
Learning to drive a car via lectures and tapes...
Imagine learning to drive a car by hearing a lecturer describe driving, watching a video of someone driving or listening to audio tapes on how to drive. These will work fine if you want to be knowledgeable about driving.
However if you want to be able to drive you need to actually do it - you need to get into the car and handle the controls and have on-going access to your driving tutor... (And having guidance from someone who has just passed their own driving test is no substitute for a certified driving instructor - and this has parallels with NLP training.)
What do you want?
When considering an NLP Practitioner course it's a good idea to decide what you want to have at the end of the process...
Do you want lots of knowledge and a nice piece of paper to frame and hang on the wall afterwards? Or do you want lots of knowledge, a nice piece of paper plus practical skills which you can apply, right away, in your everyday life.
Because if you want to have the practical skills you need to learn actively through listening, discussing, doing, and reviewing. And this does take more time, requires smaller groups and your training cannot be delegated to unskilled staff.
Faster learning through hypnosis...
Some organisations promise that you can learn quicker because they will use hypnosis to train you. Hypnosis certainly can enable some people to feel better about themselves and their subject and, some say, to more quickly acquire certain types knowledge.
However it is questionable whether hypnosis can be used to develop complex skills. If this were the case it would be widely used in mass markets such as driving tuition, flying lessons, etc. where millions could benefit and huge profits could be generated by teaching hundreds or thousands of people at a time.
It's an interesting, if a rather scary prospect, to consider how air or road safety statistics would change if henceforth all 17-years olds attended 'fast track' or 'accelerated driving lessons' in which they learned to drive in a trance state... - or all airline pilots learned their skills through hypnosis.
Market forces and profit maximising
In the early days when only a few organisations provided NLP Certification Programmes it was easy to charge a high price for the full-length Programme.
However as more and more training organisations began providing certification programmes profits began to suffer. And so began a drive to maximise profits... and towards a forumula...
The 4 Steps to Highly Profitable NLP Trainings
Bright Idea # 1: "Let's have larger groups - pack more people in"
It's a lot more profitable to hold workshops with 50 or 75 or even 100's of participants than to have 12-16 people in your workshop!
With large numbers per workshop you can have huge advertising budgets, run fewer courses, and have much lower overhead costs per delegate - highly profitable!
Of course, you do need to give customers the impression that they are being treated as individuals in these large trainings so you bring in 'training assistants'. These can be previous participants who get to repeat the course free of charge in return for managing the crowd and ensuring that participants don't bother the trainer with too many questions, especially during break time.
Bright Idea #2: "Now, let's have larger groups - and run shorter courses"
The next bright idea for further maximising profitability was to make the courses shorter and re-brand them 'accelerated' or 'fast track' practitioner programmes.
So how do you pack the same amount of material into a third of the time? You cover less material, have less practise time, give them lots of descriptions of the material, tell them to get lots of home practise, tell them to read the prescribed book list, and perhaps listen to some audio recordings.
This formula has immediate appeal for the person who is unprepared to invest the time in attending a full-length, full-syllabus training but who wants to have a piece of paper proclaiming that that they are a 'certified practitioner of NLP'.
Whether or not they could learn the same amount as well and develop the same degree of behavioural skill in 5-10 days as they could in a full 16-day, 120-hour programme is left unquestioned.
"But, this is the age of instant-everything! We have fast food so why not fast track trainings?" Well..., the nutrient value and the long term effects of junk food is commonly questioned by those who are not swayed by clever marketing.
Bright Idea #3: "Let's have larger groups, shorter trainings, and charge a big fee"
Let's charge a lot more money for a shorter training.
After all if people don't know about NLP they are likely to think that the higher fee means a better quality training. Easy!
Incidentally, there is an interesting phenomenon, validated by psychological experiments, in which the more people pay for something the more they will convince themselves, and will attempt to convince others, that they got a good deal... whatever the quality of their purchase!
And the higher the price they paid the more enthusiastically will they believe in and praise their purchase - even in face of evidence to the contrary!
Bright Idea #4: "Let's have bigger groups, shorter trainings, charge a big fee - and use lots of covert hypnotic suggestions"
The subtle language and behavioural patterns of hypnosis, such as nested loops, fractionation, metaphors, direct and indirect commands, have always been taught and used in NLP trainings at Practitioner, Master Practitioner and Trainer levels. They do enable us to pack a lot more into an NLP training than in a more conventionally presented and designed one.
However these are ideally used to provide a more thorough training experience - and, importantly, they are used in a manner that enables participants to recognise their use and learn the patterns themselves.
Using such patterns to covertly install marketing messages or to convince participants that they have made a good purchase is a highly questionable process.
In large groups it is relatively easy to additionally use such phenomena as crowd control and group-think to inhibit critical thinking and to minimise interruptions or awkward questions. So participants are told that they are learning through hypnosis and that, because of this, they are learning more than they realise they are learning... hmmmmm...
What most of these enter-trainments have in common is the ability to provide a most entertaining experience with lots of humour, fun, audio-visual props and group bonding. They are great fun - designed to be such - and many feel exhilarated afterwards.
They also have other features which the critical and independent thinker may find less attractive:
They cannot provide participants with as much time for practical hands-on learning and feedback/coaching from the trainer as the full-length programmes
They cannot provide sufficient time or opportunity to allow participants to critically question and discuss the material with the trainer
They cannot provide sufficient time between sections of the training for participants to 'wire-in' their skills through applying them in their everyday lives
They cannot provide sufficient time to thoroughly and experientially cover all of the syllabus in the original 120 hour programme
Many such trainings actively discourage disagreement or critical discussion of the material. Learning through discussion takes up too much time so it is often replaced by an attitude: Leave it to us - we are the experts and we know best - you'll appreciate the benefits of our approach after the training.
Remember the Emperors New Clothes?
Those who run 'fast track' or 'accelerated' NLP trainings like to have large groups. They are much more profitable. And they are also easier to manage because of the 'group think' phenomenon which inhibits all but the most courageous from asking awkward questions.
In the fable of the Emperor's New Clothes everybody convinced everybody else that the emperor was indeed wearing a wonderful suit - when, in fact, he was naked.
Each person could see he was naked - but because of the 'group think' phenomenon they doubted themselves. They thought that they, alone, were too stupid to see the wonderful suit which they were told the emperor was wearing.
And then that 'naive' little boy spoke up...
And, finally, are they offering value for money?
Some years ago we compared training fees charged by many of the top NLP training providers in the UK.
On a cost-per-training-day basis the fees ranged from £70 per day up an amazing £338 per day (Pegasus NLP training was around £78 per day at the time).
Some of the "fast track NLP" providers were charging more money for 7 days than the full-length, full-syllabus providers charged for 16-20 days - and, in a few cases, their daily rates were between £200 and £300 per day....
This article is neither objective nor 'true'!
This is a biased article!
We make no claims for objectivity in this. It is biased because it is written from our point of view and is a statement of our beliefs. And beliefs are not 'true' they are merely opinions!
We believe that the full-length and full-syllabus formula is best. So that is the style of course we run. If we didn't believe this we'd run accelerated trainings with lots of participants and get them certified in 7-10 days. And we'd make lots more money!
At Pegasus NLP Training we enjoy our work - even though it is not as profitable as it certainly would be if we were to abandon our principles and run 'fast track' or 'accelerated' practitioner training programmes.
We get a great kick out of seeing people develop their skill and confidence in using NLP. We encourage people to be highly critical of the material they are learning - so they own it and feel confident in applying it.
We are happy to make a reasonable profit from running small group Practitioner Certification Programmes in the traditional full-length and full-syllabus format - and we have been doing this since 1995.
So we do not run 'Accelerated NLP Practitioner Training Programmes'.
Why not? Well it's to do with ...
Integrity and principles....
Respect for those who take part in our trainings...
Only you can decide
Nevertheless these are still just our (Pegasus NLP) opinions. Only you can decide which is the most appropriate style and length of NLP training for you.
And, of course, we respect your ability to choose what is best for you.
The Pegasus NLP Newsletter
Most articles on this site originally appeared in The Pegasus NLP Newsletter - which has been published continuously since January 2001.
And there will be no spam - I promise. You have trusted me with your email address and I will use it for the Newsletter and for nothing else - and it will never be shared with anyone else. Ever. (Reg Connolly, founder of Pegasus NLP)