If you are purely interested in NLP for personal development then you can do as little or as much reading, practice and training as you want, but if you use NLP in a professional capacity you need to be doing regular Continued Professional Development (CPD) and Supervision.
NLP is very lightly regulated, on balance this is a good thing, it allows the field to grow and develop in interesting and often unexpected directions. If it had become a tightly regulated “therapy” when it was first developed we would not be seeing the fascinating and powerful applications that have been used in eduction, business and sports and the field of coaching would be missing out on a huge chunk of methodology.
However this light regulation does have it’s downsides.
With no one recognised body taking control of qualification and regulation it has meant that anyone can set themselves up as an NLP trainer, offer certification (even if it just one they have made up!), or as NLP Coaches and Therapists with very little experience and there is no prerequisite for Continued Professional Development or Supervision.
In any other professional coaching or therapy career there is a formal requirement for CPD, including follow up trainings and one to one supervision.
What Is CPD and Supervision?
CPD is a way of ensuring you are up to date with your skills and expertise and you are offering the best professional support that you can.
It is often either not mentioned or overlooked in the coaching and “alternative therapy” field that you, as a professional practitioner, have a legal duty of care to your clients, part of this duty of care is to make sure you are offering appropriate and up to date interventions. CPD is a way of ensuring this.
Supervision is a regular one to one meeting with a colleague, peer or mentor to discuss issues arising within your sessions. This can be formal supervision, arranging regular sessions with a supervisor or (because there is no official requirement for CPD in NLP) a more informal approach of chatting to a colleague over a cup of coffee.
How Much CPD is Enough CPD?
Because NLP does not have any formal requirement for CPD, the onus is on the practitioner to make sure they undertake appropriate development; it is your responsibility to make sure you are carrying out relevant and sufficient CPD.
It is very difficult to put a figure on how much is enough, different professions have different requirements, we need to look to similar fields to give us a guide. The British Psychological Society (BPS) suggest half to one days CPD a month plus an hours supervision per week, so on average you should be aiming for at least 12 days CPD a year as well as regular supervision sessions. Depending on the amount of clients you see and the experience you have you can probably do supervision less regularly than once a week.
What Counts as CPD?
There are 4 ways you can make sure you are doing the required amount of CPD:
1. NLP Books and Learning Products
There is a vast array of NLP books, CD’s, DVD’s and learning products out there. It is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to do regular CPD. I am constantly watching, listening and reading (and re-watching, re-listening and re-reading!) NLP and related books, CD’s and DVD’s. Some are better than
NLP Times creates some great audio and video courses from NLP Master Trainer Michael Breen, which I use regularly (click here for more), NLP Life Training (here) offers trainings and products from Dr Richard Bandler and the official Society of NLP store is here. And, of course, there is always Amazon or your local bookstore for the vast array of NLP books around.
2. Attend A Practice Group
Practice groups are incredibly popular in NLP and most areas will have one or more groups. They are great way of practicing your skills, networking and getting peer support. I highly recommend that anyone interested in NLP, but especially for those who are using NLP in a professional capacity.
To find a practice group local to you go here.
3. Attend Regular Trainings and Master Classes
Once you have completed you initial training that is not the end of your learning experience and it is important to attend other courses and seminars to “top up”, review and extend your knowledge.
In any other professional coaching or therapy field it is standard for the professional to undertake regular supervision sessions.
Supervision is discussing (be careful not to breach confidentiality and the data protection act) clients with another equally (or preferably more experienced) therapist or coach. You can talk about concerns, issues and questions that you have and the supervisor can offer suggestions, guidance or simply an alternative point of view.
Click here to learn more about the Mentoring and Supervision that I offer.
It is important to keep a record of your CPD; note down what books your read, what courses and practice groups you attend and any supervision you undertake.
This post is not designed to frighten you, but to make you aware of your responsibilities as a professional practitioner of NLP. If you are just starting out, it is important to make sure you have a CPD framework in place and if you are a seasoned practitioner maybe it is worth reviewing your CPD.
One of the most common criticisms of NLP is its unprofessionalism and I would argue that it is those that have chosen to use NLP in a professional capacity should be the ones demonstrating its professionalism, one of the most important ways of doing that is to be able to demonstrate your own regular CPD framework.