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NLP – principles in practice


Lisa Wake explains some of the practical applications of NLP in the training and coaching world in her new book. 

Starting her professional life as a nurse working in acute medicine before specialising in neonatal nursing, Lisa Wake then became a practice nurse before moving into NHS Management. In 1997 she made the transition into self-employment as a management consultant and has since developed an extensive portfolio of  clients, including Northern Foods for the past 12 years, and Napp/Mundipharma Research for the past 10 years.

Her expertise is in change management and she also integrates NLP into this process, as well as designing and delivering NLP-based training courses. She has trained as a psychotherapist, initially in neurolinguistic psychotherapy, then after accrediting with UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy), in integrative child and adolescent psychotherapy. Lisa now works as a Consultant, Trainer, Coach, Facilitator, Psychotherapist, Mentor and Supervisor.

TrainingZone interviewed her ahead of the release of her new book, NLP - Principles in Practice

Where did your interest for NLP come from? How did you first come across it?
I have always been fascinated by human interaction and why people do what they do. I guess I am an avid people watcher – I probably learnt to do this when I was very young, growing up in a large family.
I first learnt about NLP in the early 1990’s on a management development programme that I attended while working in the NHS. I completed a questionnaire that helped me identify my preferred Representation System, how I prefer to receive information. The results of this simple exercise answered so many questions about myself and why I could only get on with certain kinds of people. I decided to read more about it and ever since then my learning has never stopped!
"I have always been fascinated by human interaction and why people do what they do."
What kind of training have you undergone to become a Master Practitioner?
I undertook several short courses in NLP before I did any formal NLP training. I was a mother of two young children, and there were no courses in the area of the country I lived in, so it was five years after first learning about NLP before I attended my first formal NLP Training. I completed a seven-day accelerated NLP Practitioner course that included a series of audiotapes to listen to and a workbook prior to attending the programme. I then went on to do other related trainings, and then the following year did the NLP Master Practitioner course.
Have you come across any negativity in your journey to become an NLP practitioner?
Yes, lots and even more positivity!
The negativity has been the lack of evidence for some of the processes, the lack of respect for this powerful skill set, and the belief by some that NLP is the panacea for all. Unfortunately I have also been on the 'clean – up' end of when NLP has been used unecologically, through my advisory role at ANLP, during my time in office at UKCP or as a psychotherapist.
In the early days of my career using NLP, many businesses did not like to use the term because it was perceived as being a maverick and ungrounded approach. I have worked very hard to support processes that can demonstrate its effectiveness and transparency around its limitations.
I have also experienced some negativity within the NLP field itself, where some individuals do not consider it necessary to undertake risk assessments with clients, have supervision, or consider the ethical implications of their work.

On TrainingZone, there is a large divide between 'NLPers' and those who disregard it as 'hocus pocus' – what would you say to those 'non-believers.'

Like any applied psychology, for it to be accepted it requires an evidence base to support it. Equally where there is no evidence to support an intervention or tool, then the NLP community should be specific about that.
If 'NLPers' pace their audience and provide sufficient reference examples of what it is and how it can be used, then I think those who are 'non believers' might be more open to listen. How it works in education will be very different to its application in business or coaching.
NLP is a model of excellence and as such is derived from main stream cybernetics and systems theory, cognitive linguistics, gestalt therapy amongst others. It provides the ‘how to’ of performance excellence and has applications in many contexts, and any good practitioner will be happy to discuss and debate the pro’s and cons of the model. Like any model or profession, it is only as good as the person or professional using it.
"I think it is important to ensure that NLP is kept up to date with other supporting theories, e.g. the recent research and evidence that is emerging in neuroscience. "
What inspired you to write this book?
All of the above! Plus the many students and colleagues who have joined me on my journey of learning. They have constantly encouraged me to write this book and provide the evidence base and more pragmatic understanding to what NLP is, why it works, when to use it and when not to from an ecological point of view, how it relates to other theories and models and any evidence base that underpins it (or not).
I am an avid reader and researcher and always ask the reason ‘why?’.  I was aware that there was a lack of books in this area for NLP, with a plethora of books on the ‘how’.
As I read more and as the field advances, I think it is important to ensure that NLP is kept up to date with other supporting theories, e.g. the recent research and evidence that is emerging in neuroscience.  I think NLP will be more widely accepted if it brings itself into the mainstream and opens itself up to scrutiny and challenge.
Finally, why do you think people should consider NLP as a training route?
I think people should consider it as a training route if they want to find out more about themselves, what makes them tick and how they can develop greater flexibility in their behaviour when communicating with others.
NLP enables you to understand and replicate success in your own and others lives, whether this be individually in coaching and management or in the wider business context.
There are some real gifts within NLP and my own life is more effective, happier, more focussed, and with a much higher degree of contentment than if I hadn’t done NLP.
'NLP - Principles in Practice' is published by ecademy press and is available through Amazon

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