Just what is NLP?  Having recently qualified as an NLP Master Practitioner, I thought I would share something of my learning journey.  It’s been such an incredible experience that has changed me personally, as well as giving me a rich treasure trove of understanding, tools and techniques to use with my clients

I am surprised by how many people I come across who haven’t heard of NLP*.  Sometimes it seems like it must be the world’s best kept secret!  I couldn’t tell you when I first heard of it but I’m guessing it was around twenty years ago when I was working in L&D for a large multinational.  Colleagues were asking for funding to do NLP training, being turned down, and then going off and paying for it themselves.  At the time, I was developing my skills as a personal development coach within my organisation and I bought a book called Coaching With NLP.  It was interesting but I still don’t think I really “got it”.

Fast forward many years and I’m now a newly qualified Master Practitioner and I GET IT, I really do!  In fact, I can’t quite believe how quickly I have progressed along my NLP learning journey, which actually began less than two years previously with a taster session.  We were introduced to the Communications Model (game-changer) and the Mercedes Model (makes sense), and I suddenly found myself wanting more.  Having taken early retirement from my corporate career, I was building a coaching business and I could see just how much value NLP would bring to my clients.  Somewhat naïvely, I hadn’t realised there would be immense personal benefits for me as well.

Following the taster session, I signed up for a Practitioner course beginning a few weeks later and I also enrolled on Identity By Design, a one-day workshop developed by Emma McNally and Lynn Robinson.  My journey of personal change had begun.

It was “less than easy”, a term used frequently by Emma, my wonderful NLP trainer.  As she explained, the unconscious mind believes everything you tell it and it doesn’t process negation.  I started to transform my vocabulary and phraseology.

Over the next few months, I completed my Practitioner level certification, and I assisted on other Practitioner courses.  I participated in peer practice sessions, and I completed a Core Transformation course.  NLP was becoming imprinted on my DNA.  Emma encouraged me to do the Master Practitioner course but I didn’t think I was ready – how on earth would I ever be able to do a modelling project!  We did an introductory module on strategies (an important component of modelling) as part of our Practitioner training and I was baffled; understandable I guess, given that the earlier part of my career was spent working in IT – surely the best way to model excellence in making a cup of tea is by drawing a flow chart?

She insisted.  I relented.

Wow, what a decision that was!  Master Prac took everything to a whole new level and it blew my mind at times.  I experienced some definite moments of shift when the penny would drop on a particularly less-than-easy concept.  “What’s not pen?” became a bit of a catchphrase for us as an explanation of subjective and not subjective, so much so that we had it engraved on a gift for our aforementioned fabulous trainer, Emma.

The course comprised fifteen days of training over four modules and, together with the NLP Conference, meant that at one stage I was immersed in NLP for five consecutive weekends.  My family was beginning to think I’d joined some kind of cult!

As a cohort of twelve students, we gelled in a way that I’ve never experienced before.  We laughed and cried together.  We were there for each other throughout.  We held our own revision sessions together and shared our learning techniques.  One student modelled another student for their project.  Another student modelled Dolly Parton and received a standing ovation for her rendition of “Coat of Many Colors”.  Some of us wore wigs and other props to fully inhabit the personality of our modelling subject.  In fact, the modelling projects turned out to be one of the best parts of the course, teaching us so much and enabling us to have fun presenting our findings back to the class.

Needless to say, we all passed.

If you’re interested in learning more about NLP, then please get in touch – it’s possibly my favourite topic!


* NLP stands for neuro-linguistic programming.  It provides a way of helping to change someone’s thoughts and behaviours in order to achieve desired outcomes for them. It is rooted in neuroscience and offers powerful insights into how our minds work. There are many tools that NLP practitioners use to facilitate change, from addressing unwanted thoughts, beliefs and behaviours, to removing negative emotions associated with past events, through to clearing up limiting beliefs and decisions we have made about ourselves at an unconscious level. When we can change our thoughts and beliefs, it becomes so much easier to then change our behaviours and our outcomes.