Yes they mis-named it! And what a tragedy that mis-naming has created. Yet as with most things human, they undoubtedly were doing their best and simply didn’t imagine, didn’t think, didn’t project themselves into the future to consider what consequences that name would have.

How could they have known that 35 years later people with just a month of training in this field would use the title, “Master Practitioner,” stress the Master part, and consider that they have arrived, they know-it-all, they don’t need to study anymore, they have arrived at Guru-dom?!

The history of NLP “Practitioner” and “Master Practitioner” is itself an interesting one. Since 1978 when Leslie Cameron Bandler put together the first “Practitioner” that was some 36 days long, the Prac. course of NLP was designed to introduce the basic NLP models and give people the essential competencies to use the models and patterns and to begin to think in terms of these models.

And that means what? That means understanding the basic Communication Model of NLP. That’s why NLP is— a model of how human beings communicate, first to themselves (also called “thinking,” “awareness,” “being conscious”) and then to others (also called “talking”). Modeled from three experts in communication, three “world-class professional communicators” NLP presented itself as being able to identify the essential structure of communication verbally and non-verbally.

The verbal part predominated at first. Using the dominating linguistic model at that time, Transformational Grammar (TG), Grinder introduced the majority of the jargon of NLP by sticking in all of the TG language: transderivational search to your referential index, selective restriction violation, nominalizations, etc. In The Structure of Magic, the language part was recognized as the “meta-representational system.”

None of that was new, nor was the sensory representational systems (seeing, hearing, sensing, smelling, tasting). That had been around for a hundred years in the field of Psychology, from the very beginning of Psychology as a field separate from Philosophy. But there was something new, and radical— Using the sensory representational systems as the languages of the mind. That was new. And Bateson noted this in his Preface to The Structure of Magic commenting that he and his colleagues had been search for that for decades.

So first came the Meta-Model, then the Representational Systems, which includes calibrating to a person for recognizing representational systems (eye accessing cues and the like), then the TOTE model for Strategies, the Milton Model (and reversing the Meta-Model to use it for trance), the Sub-Modality distinctions, and the basic Time-Line model, and with these models, lots of patterns, processes, and exercises. And at first Prac. took a long, long time. But eventually, the process was streamlined to 21 days of 8 hours or so of training each day, and this still remains that in many places. We increase the hours to 12 hour days, require extensive reading and preparation ahead of time and can get through the content in a minimum of 7 days when we really push it. And what accelerates the learning of NLP in Neuro-Semantics is half a day on Meta-States since that’s what explains the “magic” of NLP.

Then there’s Master Prac. It really has nothing to do with mastery, it is mostly more stuff.More of the NLP model: Meta-Programs, Advance Modeling, Extensive Reframing using the old “sleight of mouth” patterns (or Mind-Lines), Meta-States, Advanced Trance, Advanced Time-Lines, and again, lots and lots patterns, processes, and applications to personal development, therapy, business, selling, leadership, etc.

Many years ago I asked Wyatt Woodsmall,

“Why was Meta-Programs put in Master Prac. rather than in Prac.? After all, a person really needs to know about meta-programs from the beginning?”

His answer was simple and succinct: “Because they were not invented when Prac. was invented!” “Oh, so that’s why!” (Of course, the story of their invention is in Figuring Out People, 2007).

When I first began training Master Prac. I tossed some things in about “mastery,” what it is, how long it takes (the “ten year rule”), the attitude required, etc. and we ended Master Prac. With a “pathway to mastery” celebration. Today I think that’s a mistake. While the 15 to 24 days of Master Prac. does take basic NLP further, and provides a more indepth understanding, if we’re honest, it really has nothing to do with mastery and it actually is perpetuating the “get rich quick,” “get smart quick,” “get instant expertise” myth that’s clings to NLP like a leach sucking its blood.

No one is a “master” of NLP after a two or three week intensive course or after a year if you stretch it out to 6 or 8 weekends.

That’s not how mastery works. Even I knew that after my first experience of Master Prac. At my first Master Prac. I wrote the notes that is now the book, The Spirit of NLP (1996). And in that book, the idea of the spirit of NLP is the idea of continuous learning, an unending, ongoing attitude of exploring, discovering, and ferocious curiosity.

In an interview in Moscow recently, I was asked about Master Practitioners/ Trainers who consider that they have arrived, who segregate themselves from everybody else and present themselves as having reached the pinnacle of the field. “What about them? What would you say to them?”

“I’d say that ‘You have missed the whole point! You do not understand the basics of NLP if that’s your attitude! Your license to train ought to be revoked and you ought to go study it afresh and learn to develop the spirit of NLP. Your journey to mastery has hardly begun— there are many new developments in the field and unless you are staying involved, collaborating with those who are doing things in this field, every day you are falling further and further behind!’”

This Week’s Neuro-Semantic News
We are wrapping up the completion of NSTT (Trainers’ Training ) in Hong Kong and the graduation is this Thursday.
Then NSTT Colorado Begins June 19.