By: Rich Liotta, Ph.D.
This Article is about my experience at NSTT 2010
I love attending trainings, learning new ideas, and expanding my repertoire of skills to have a positive impact in this world. I carefully choose how I invest my resources, both time and money. Unquestionably Neuro-Semantics Trainers’ Training (NSTT) was the best investment that I have made in my professional development in a long time.
I am writing this article to offer some of my thoughts and commentary about the experience, because if you are considering becoming an NLP or Neuro-Semantics Trainer you may want to hear what I have to say. If you are already an NLP trainer and looking to expand your horizons you may also want to hear what I have to say. If neither of these applies but you are someone considering taking some workshops in Neuro-Semantics this article will give information regarding what people have to do to become trainers! If you are a consumer it is important to know how the person teaching you was trained, is it not? Simply stated, it matters because people learn more when their teacher knows how to teach.
Before offering the following, let me say a bit about where I am coming from. I am a psychologist and passionate helping people change, heal, and life effective and fulfilled lives. I have valued what hypnosis and NLP offer for a long time. I became a Certified Trainer of both NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis, being certified by a wonderful trainer, Ron Klein, in 2008. I am also admittedly somewhat of an NLP/hypnosis geek; I want to know about things in depth and detail! While I had read about L. Michael Hall and Neuro-Semantics, I finally took his Accessing Personal Genius (APG) workshop in 2009 and was surprised that I was impressed! The material was useful personally and with my clients; it provided some of missing puzzle pieces. I decided that I had to add Neuro-Semantics to the tools that I offer to others as a trainer and consultant.
I attended L. Michael Hall’s Neuro-Semantics Trainers’ Training in Grand Junction, Colorado, in the summer of 2010. My comments will focus on the training itself, the values embodied in the training, and on the Neuro-Semantics community.
First of all, the training is quite intensive. The schedule is 9 to 9 for essentially 15 days. In addition to the time in class, practicing presenting skills, and being benchmarked on those skills, there is also considerable time that needs to be devoted to preparation. He appropriately calls it a training a “boot camp.”
Another noteworthy aspect of the training was that, of the approximately 30 of us who were taking the training, seven countries from around the world were represented. Dr. Hall’s International Society and Neuro-Semantics is truly an international effort.
Dr. Hall firmly believes that NLP is brilliant and magical and has transformative power. He believes that “The more we train ourselves in that magic, the more we touch our world with it. With meta-states, we simply move to a higher magic for ourselves and our world.” He feels that neuro-semantics, which includes a meta-state model and several other models, helps integrate the field of NLP.
Contrary to some of the critiques of Dr. Hall, he has a great respect for the foundation of NLP and in many of the things that have been developed in the field over time. He is very consciously aware, as is evident in many of his writings, of the history and underpinnings of NLP and indeed has delved into some of this differently more thoroughly than some other descriptions of the history of NLP.
His view of training NLP and Neuro-Semantics is that it is critical for trainers to demonstrate competency in training skills and that the trainers are individuals who walk their talk, who live the values of Neuro-Semantics and NLP. He believes in integrity and skill competency. He seeks for trainers to be congruent, have mastery of their material, be an expert in their training skills, and be able to utilize NS/NLP on themselves in order to do this more effectively.
The structure of the training clearly embodies these goals. We reviewed extensive materials and practiced various skills. The facilitators lead us through creative exercises to help us get into the right frame of mind to integrate and develop our training skills. There were processes to help us take feedback, getting ego out of the way to allow maximum benefit from feedback. There was also a focus on developing our own “genius training state.” This was done in a very creative and useful fashion utilizing a team approach to the Neuro-Semantic training.
The training team, all experts in their own right, included L. Michael Hall; master trainer Collin Cox; Lena Grey, a meta-coach trainer; Omar Solom, who primarily works in business settings with a focus on coaching; and Jim Walsh, who has extensive experience in traditional NLP, hypnosis, as well as Neuro-Semantics. The variety of approaches that the trainers used, all towards a singular mission, was extraordinarily helpful in getting the message across and helping us develop skills and move to higher levels of competence as trainers.
Indeed many of the participants found the experience quite transformative on a variety of levels.
Another unique aspect of the training is the benchmarking of platform skills. Essentially this involves rating the trainer trainee’s presentations on a variety of platform skills. Feedback was given immediately, and then the person repeated the presentation. Then it was rated again. Presentation skills included group rapport, engagement, spatial anchoring, gestures, voice effectiveness, the use of metaphors, induction skills, and framing.
The platform skill that surprised me the most was the emphasis on state induction and elicitation as training skills. While not unusual in NLP trainer’s training of course, this seemed contrary to some people’s views that L. Michael Hall mostly focuses on the conscious mind and does not utilize the unconscious mind. Wrong! His conceptualization of what an effective trainer does integrates induction skills or hypnotic skills and the use of metaphor as components necessary to be an effective trainer.
His view of the skills that competent trainers have is quite detailed and multilayered. The benchmarking process used in the trainer’s training (and in training coaches) has been evolving in recent years. We found it very effective in providing feedback about what we were doing and in providing specific direction to further improve our training skills. While the skills that he focuses on are not that different from other trainer’s trainings in NLP, the matter in which they are made objective was very useful in helping us know where we were at and what we needed to improve.
In order to pass the trainer’s training we each needed to reach a benchmark indicating competency in all of the platform skills. The approach was comprehensive, rational and useful.
Another factor that struck me about the L. Michael Hall in the Trainer’s Training, which was reflective of his positions in general, is that he respects and honors NLP. Neuro-semantics, as he conceives it, takes into account the foundational work that has been done, and continues to be done, in NLP. He is also appropriately critical (in my estimation) of some of the directions that NLP has gone that have not served the field well. His emphasis on integrity, realistic rather than grand claims, and on process rather than dramatic interventions or claims is something that NLP desperately needs.
L. Michael Hall is not the only one seeking higher values and integrity in NLP, but L. Michael Hall is doing a great deal to disseminate this perspective internationally. He has neuro-semantic trainers in at least 30 countries around the globe. One of his goals is to have ISNS (International Society of Neuro-Semantics) provide an umbrella of credibility so that when people get a trainer in neuro-semantics they can be confident that the trainer is skilled and competent.
The training team communicated some of the values and core beliefs of Neuro-Semantics. First, trainers need to walk the walk that they talk! They feel that trainers are most effective when they experience the model live the model congruently. When they do so, the tools of Neuro-Semantics and NLP will be more attractive and exciting to others. Another core belief is that in Neuro-Semantics we operate from abundance, there is enough to go around and that we work better together than apart. The work toward developing a community internationally is also something that is not done as much as would be useful in the field of NLP.
Another appealing aspect of the ISNS community is that it offers ongoing support after the training is completed.
The training philosophy is definitely that you do not simply arrive at mastery by becoming a certified trainer. Rather mastery takes time, practice, continued skill development, and focus on honing the craft of training and presenting. Training is an art and a skill and getting trainers certification is simply one step along the road to being the best trainer you can be.
One of his models is self-actualization and he clearly applies much of this in a very process oriented way in his manner of training trainers.
Another impressive point about the trainers training is that it is offered for a significantly lower cost for people who are already NLP trainers. I definitely appreciated that! Dr. Hall offers this because he wants to encourage more collaboration in the field of NLP. L. Michael Hall intention seems to be to train people to train Neuro-Semantics and NLP so more people will ultimately benefit by learning these life-enhancing skills, rather than to just make money. I also found that attitude refreshing. Indeed the cost of this trainers training was significantly lower than many other trainer’s trainings that I researched. It is definitely a great value for the money.
It is an intensive experience done by people who are clearly devoted and committed to helping people become the best trainers that they can be.
Despite the fact that the training was 15 days for approximately 12 hours a day plus homework, it really went quickly. The intensity helps enhance the learning and accelerates the learning process. The training itself definitely walked the talk of what L. Michael Hall presents in his Neuro-Semantics resources, including his books and articles (many can be found on the Neuro-Semantics website).
Basically I found the experience extraordinarily useful. Though I was already a certified NLP trainer going into this training, the training allowed me to hone my presentation skills further. It has also allowed me to become a part of the international community of neuro-semantics trainers and I feel confident that this support structure is there to facilitate further development and success.
I highly recommend Neuro-Semantics Trainers’ Training to anyone who loves NLP, appreciates what Neuro-Semantics adds to NLP, and who wants to get the message out there into the world.
Finally, I want make a general comment. It is my concern that some of the points of view about Dr. Hall and his approaches are simplifications and reductionistic. The Neuro-Semantics model has a great deal of depth. Some of the critiques of L. Michael Hall’s ideas do not consider the depth (or the details) of his models. In my opinion, he has a deep appreciation of the foundations of NLP and respect for the processes and the fundamental value of NLP. Neuro-Semantics is simply an additional development in NLP’s maturation as field. Indeed Neuro-Semantics offers a structure and set of models that integrate and extend various aspects of NLP.