Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a personal development system that was developed in the 1970s and is seeing a resurgence in popularity over the past 10 years. It is based on the idea of understanding and improving subjective experience. By improving our “map of the world” we can better navigate the pitfalls that befall us. Neuro-Linguistic Programming holds that all behavior can be broken down and taught to others. Therefore, much of NLP is based on the behaviors, thoughts, and habits of people who exhibit some sort of excellence. By studying what they do and breaking it down into small chunks it can then be taught to any other interested person.
NLP is an incredibly broad discipline. There are NLP coaches that use it as a standalone type of therapy. They help people with problems such as breaking phobias, improving self-esteem, personal development and a slew of other issues. However, NLP is also very popular in the corporate world. Some NLP coaches work with companies to help improve interpersonal communication. In the sales field NLP has been used for a long time with impressive results. Lastly, some psychotherapists are adopting techniques and principles of NLP into their own practices. Becoming an NLP practitioner depends very much on how you want to use the discipline of NLP.
A good place to start is to read every book that you can acquire about NLP. Before jumping into any endeavor it is smart to be as well-read and prepared as possible. Go to your local library and check out any books you can find about Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Additionally, there are many resources on the Internet that can give you some introductory knowledge on the subject of NLP (like this very article!) Once you’ve done your homework, so to speak, you can begin looking at other options for increasing your NLP knowledge.
There is no national or accepted certification board that practitioners of NLP have to register with. Since there is very little professional oversight, the quality of various training programs can be quite dubious. Anybody can issue an NLP “certificate” or “license.” Many companies try to just churn as many people as possible through their daily workshops with very little actual NLP training or practice. Beware of these “certificate mills” that will do nothing for you other than take your money and give you a piece of paper proclaiming your proficiency in NLP.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming requires practice on and with actual human beings so I would recommend being incredibly wary of any program that promises to teach you NLP completely online. The most effective courses will be taught in person, not over the Internet. The books you’ve read on the subject will prepare you for actual hands-on training, but they won’t make you proficient in NLP by themselves. You could read countless books about speaking a different language but you aren’t officially a speaker of the language until you can have a conversation with someone in that language. NLP is the same way, just reading about it won’t cut it.
The best piece of advice I can give you regarding becoming an NLP practitioner is to talk to an NLP coach that you already work with and deem competent. Ask him or her where they learned their trade. Most would be happy to discuss the options you have. Much of NLP is contingent upon the drive and determination of the person trying to learn the discipline. If you’re passionate about learning NLP whatever course you take, as long as it is in-person, should be beneficial for you and you future goals.