I have written a similar post before, so please excuse me for feeling compelled to say a few words again on a topic that is close to my heart, namely: Just because someone has a certificate and a testimonial from a big name in a particular field, does NOT make them either good at their job nor able to train effectively.
Too many times have I witnessed even the ‘greats’ of their field (lauded as such due to either their longevity in their field, the number of books they’ve written or the other ‘big names’ they associate with) presenting themselves as ‘experts’ – when, in fact, they have based their last several years of career on the back of a written testimonial or successful publication 20 years ago!
Furthermore, those that publically support and market ‘experts’ need to actually open their eyes, ears and minds to feedback – and not blindly accept the skills and knowledge of the practitioner as a given.
This is perhaps most important in fields of practice that position themselves as healing arts, therapy or other disciplines that aim to help others. Why? Because as soon as we put ourselves ‘out there’ in this way, we have a moral responsibility to take the wellbeing of our clients (or our students of our arts) as our primary concern. As such, we need to embody the very things we are teaching; it’s hard, of course. We are all human, vulnerable to going ‘off track’ from time to time and not always behaving in ways that we might deem as epitomising the things we are training others to do……but we have to maintain such self-awareness that we can do our best to model our craft when practising or teaching it. (Supervision is, therefore, part of the ongoing requirement of those that market themselves as healers, coaches, trainers etc).
Very recently, feedback has come my way that gave rise to this post: well-meaning and open-minded people attending events that (from the comments I received) did more harm than good in respect of furthering the appreciation and understanding of such a particular discipline. (I’m hoping that those that attended this particular event were not themselves put in an unresourceful place too).
Surely it’s right that, when those who claim expertise and experience in certain crafts, they actually embody the very principles, attitudes and techniques they are espousing; surely it’s right that those who wish to bring knowledge, understanding and appreciation to the uninitiated in their field, should model the things they are presenting & teaching?
In my fields of hypnotherapy and NLP, I can demonstrate my qualifications; my certificates also have ‘big names’ on them. They just happen to be less well-known in the broader more commercially-focused world. Some of the people I have been trained by have, indeed, been on the telly and the radio and ALL are published in journals and books. Many are known and respected . But this, in itself, doesn’t automatically make ME an expert, the “best” in my arts or the “number 1 provider”………
So, again, I say: don’t be taken in by those that have trained with or claim affiliation to ‘big names’. In my experience, time and time again over the last almost 20 years, I have been a witness (either first hand or second hand) to a complete lack of integrity, humility, self-awareness and compassion for others in the practice of so-called ‘experts’. I also believe that the ‘big names’ are often big names because they’ve had a publishing and marketing machine behind them. They’ve been on telly! So they MUST be the best, right?!
BEWARE those that claim to be “the preeminent” or the “leading provider” or the “most successful” or the “internationally recognised leader in…..”
There’s no reason whatever for those who have been working within a particular field for a long time shouldn’t say so. There’s no reason why people shouldn’t let people know where their qualifications came from (and from whom). But to claim that of time served and a ‘big name’ on a certificate they are now THE expert, is nonsense.
Within NLP (and Ericksonian hypnotherapy) are some fundamental principles at work – the absence of which, in the actions of practitioners in these fields, is (in my opinion) is a major flag that new-comers should be aware of. Let me give you a few examples:
– respect for others: for example, the principle that we should ALWAYS consider the impact we are having on our clients/students/uninitiated new-comers. As a specific example, during some NLP protocols, it’s useful to set an ‘anchor’ (a applied to a state). Oftentimes, this is applied (‘set’) through the practitioner’s touch. Permission should always be sought from the client to do this (see Wake: NLP Principles in Practice; 2010, p.92). Sadly, too many times have I seen this basic level of respect and mindful awareness ignored.
– integrity: for example, the notion that as NLP Practitioners, we are not doing NLP ‘on’ someone, nor using our skills as a power-play ‘over’ the weak and feeble client. One of the most important pillars of NLP is a belief in (and an active sponsorship of) the client’s ability to run their own brain and become ever-more self-reliant, utilising their own resources to make congruent and lasting, positive change in their lives. As an NLP Practitioner, I am FACILITATING my client’s growing awareness of their own resources, skills, deep wisdom…….I am not giving them mine! Furthermore, the imbalance and power games I sometimes see and hear about is shocking. This goes for NLP Practitioners & Trainers as much as it does for Doctors, Politicians, Coaches & Teachers – just because we may have more knowledge and experience of certain technical things, doesn’t mean that we are more worthy, special, clever or skilled. As an NLP Trainer, I like my teaching to be transparent, well-referenced & academically sound – and I encourage my students to question and seek their OWN understandings, not accept my view without challenge. I’ve seen too many NLP trainers and Practitioners do demonstrations without any explanations, ecology checks (before, during or after the demo) and with a sense of “I’m the expert here; I shall do NLP to you!”
There are countless other examples
I am well aware that this blog invites criticism and scrutiny. Criticism from fellow NLP-ers or Hypnotherapists who might say: “Surely you’re making unhelpful generalisations? Surely not all NLP trainers and practitioners are so blasé about adhering to core NLP values and principles?” And, of course, it’s simply can’t be true; I’ve seen more ‘good’ NLP than ‘bad’ NLP out there. But here’s the thing: NLP still needs advocates supporters – and we can’t hope for more of this helpful publicity when poor practice (and evidence of down-right flagrant ignorance of core NLP values and principles) are not being challenged (and I only wish that I could name a few people – but I am mindful about the laws around slander!)
As for scrutiny: I am only too happy to have my NLP and Hypnotherapy practice reviewed and evaluated. I truly believe that my current cohort of students on my NLP Practitioner course would be happy to comment on my efforts to make NLP transparent, pragmatic, referenced, relevant – and demonstrated with due deference to essential NLP principles.
In Michael Hall’s excellent book The Spirit of NLP (Crown House; 2009 2nd ed.) he says (of the distinctions between Practitioner and Master Practitioner): “A Master Practitioner does not just take the Practitioner level materials and use them over and over again……….What matters most at the Master level? Developing the attitude and spirit of NLP so that we begin to think and feel and operate from this.” Surely, even more so at Trainer level (or those that put themselves out there as people who “introduce” NLP to new-comers) should we expect the fullest level of integration of knowledge, skills and understanding – so that we begin to genuinely “operate from this [spirit]” of NLP.