I was recently asked what the difference was between a Practitioner and Master Practitioner of NLP. This is not easy to answer because we need to define NLP to truly explain. So this article attempts to answer what is NLP, the difference in the levels and some considerations before you book your course.
As you will discover the NLP industry is just filled with differing ideas and opinions. As a result recognise that this article is filled with my opinions. Don’t take anything I say as authoritative, realise I have an agenda of my own and only accept what I say once you have pulled it apart, tested it and accept it only because you have decided it is right for you.
NLP Standard Organisation
The first thing that needs to be recognised is that there are no standards in NLP. There are a bunch of self-serving bodies that are trying to regulate and standardise this thing that we call NLP. They are all competing and they all have a financial interest in becoming the NLP Regulatory Body.
Add in the fact that all the certifying bodies have a vested interest in certifying people and you will find there is a huge variance in how NLP is defined and the standards of certified practitioners whether practitioner or master practitioner.
Add in the huge variation of types of certified courses. They range from fully on line where you will never see a trainer in real life through to accelerated courses that last for anywhere between five and twelve days sometimes with distance learning material and sometimes not. And of course there are those indentured servitude courses that are 20 plus days for a couple of days a month until you die of boredom.
All of these are “certified through their own pet certifying body. Clearly the standards of content, standard of teaching and the ultimate results for the graduate at the end of each is wildly different.
Does Certification Matter?
Bearing in mind the wide variance in the market any employer requiring a competent NLPer would be plain stupid to employ anyone on the basis of a certificate. My advice to anyone wanting to employ an NLPer (not sure why this would be a qualifier…but if you did) would be to set up the criteria and then test or look for evidence that they are competent to the level that you require in the particular things that you require them to be competent with.
Some people looking for certificates are looking for transferable skills from one school to another, for example they want to take their practitioner course with one school and their master practitioner course with another and they want to make sure the second school will accept the standards of the first.
Again if the master practitioner school are any good at training people at a high level they won’t accept a certificate just blindly. They will test the practitioner to ensure that they have a suitable level of knowledge and competence to start at the master practitioner level.
Some individuals like having a certificate to say they have reached a certain standard as validation either for themselves or to show other people. In both cases my best advice is to use your newly acquired NLP skills to let go of that unhelpful baggage and develop some self-esteem that doesn’t need validation. And of course you can then print your own certification because you know what standards you have reached.
What is NLP?
There are many definitions of NLP. Some schools think of NLP in really narrow fields like as a version of therapy or coaching. Others seem to only define NLP as a collection of tools and even more as some sort of navel gazing personal development tool to find the inner inner rebirthed screaming tree hugger or something.
The problem with this is that it informs the difference between Practitioner and Master Practitioner in different ways. I have even heard people say the difference between practitioner and master practitioner is to do with ones connection to the Great Spirit. Sadly I am not a violent person as one party in those conversations needed a good slap.
I have two definitions of NLP that I use. Neither is entirely relevant here so I will just jump for a simplification. NLP is about modelling success. If you are good at NLP you should be able to pay close attention to something, model how it works and then be able to apply that to yourself, to someone else or in a different context. This is the context we will use for looking at the difference between NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner.
So What is the Difference between NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner?
The difference between the practitioner and the master practitioner for some is explained as the practitioner course gives you the tools to model and the master practitioner is the process on how to model.
Another explanation of the difference that I have heard is that at practitioner level you will be able to apply NLP to contexts and situations that you are familiar and comfortable with. As a master practitioner you will be able to apply NLP to most situations.
In a practical way my experience having been on, assisted and delivered quite a few master practitioner courses is that the only real difference is more content.
On most master practitioner courses they do look at modelling, applying the tools of modelling, give you practice at applying the tools that you gained from the practitioner course. But for the most part the biggest thing is more content.
How I Got Myself in to Trouble
I really painted myself in to a corner and landed myself with a huge problem. In the days when I wanted to run certified NLP courses I decided on an overall outcome. I wanted my NLP Practitioners to be at least as good as most Master Practitioners and if not then better.
Anyway, there are a lot of different ideas and concepts around modelling but I took a specific approach. Basically because it is a down and dirty practical modelling process. If you look at the modelling approaches the original NLPers did they were long complex things. The modelling project they did for diving took three years and even then they had serious tweaking to do. Personally I want a modelling process that got me results and got them fast.
So to cut a long story cut to shreds, I took a modelling process that I know works and jammed it into my practitioner course. The net result is I have an NLP prac course that is not just about the tools for modelling but also a process for modelling. And we deconstruct a bunch of models from photo reading to juggling as well as belief changes and the like.
The difference with me is I don’t want you to know how to do a phobia treatment. I want you to know how to deconstruct the phobia treatment model and reassemble it for other applications. For example using the phobia cure model to create cultural change in an organisation, or knowing how fears build in to phobias could you use the process to build self-generating positive models of success?
Another example might be, on every practitioner course the students learn the swish pattern. On one of mine courses I challenged the students for homework one day to come up with as many different swish patterns and applications as they could by the next morning.
Because they had deconstructed the model for the swish pattern rather than just looked at the swish technique the next morning was taken up with the 22 different types and variation of a swish that they had come up with including, written, group presentation, nonverbal, kinaesthetic, covert and covert metaphorical versions.
I don’t teach master prac courses anymore. There is certainly more content on a master prac than I cover on my prac course, but that is just content. My reality is I wanted practitioners to come off my course being able to model sufficiently to be able to model enough accelerated learning techniques to rip out the content from any master prac course and install it in yourself in a quarter of the time that it take most trainers to teach the subject.
This is how I see the difference between prac, master prac and myself.
I am running a practitioner course this year. This is the first I have run for three years. The difference with this course is not only will I train you in the NLP skills we will practice using those Covert NLP Language Patterns to bypass anyone that is stupid enough to thing that the certificate has any more value that decorative wall paper. If you like this approach then click through and find out more about the course here: