NLP Certification: Discover How to Offer the Ultimate Coaching Experience

“The meaning of communication is the response which it elicits”. How often do you follow this statement from the list of presuppositions, or assumptions, of NLP? Perhaps you try but generally, we don’t always get it right. With an NLP Certification, you’ll have the knowledge to sense any gaps in understanding.

With the rise of NLP, there are a multitude of courses online including how to become a practitioner or even a master. For some people, the question might be, is it worth it? And where is the evidence for NLP?

The power of obtaining a Neuro-Linguistic Programming certificate is that, as a coach, you add another speciality to your portfolio of skills. You also discover another layer of learning within your subconscious.

Although, as we’ll see, there is some debate in the industry as to the validity of NLP.  Nevertheless, many of its techniques are modeled on other well-researched fields. Moreover, there is always a huge benefit in learning new ways of looking at how we think, what we say and what we do.

Changing our beliefs for greater success takes many forms. In this article, we’ll show you how Quenza supports the NLP frameworks to review beliefs and create new maps for ourselves. You’ll then be able to guide your coaching clients through their own map-seeking journeys.

In fact, Quenza pathways are designed for that very concept. Through the platform, you can build unique journeys for your clients with individual exercises at each step of the way. See for yourself by signing up for the free, full-access, one-month $1-only trial. You can then play around with the exercises as they come up in the article.

What is NLP?

NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s when they were researching together how effective people communicate. They specifically studied famous therapists including Fritz Perls, Milton Erikson, Noam Chomsky and others. Not only were those therapists successful in their fields but they were masters of change.

Bandler and Grinder were fascinated by the idea of coding “excellence in communication” so that anyone could model it for their own success. This was the start of NLP which became an amalgamation of neurology, in terms of how we think, linguistics and how we model results, or programming [1].

To answer the question “What is NLP?” more specifically, it’s a methodology to code behaviors of excellence for people to be more successful in life.

NLP has greatly evolved since the 1970s but its central tenets will always be to focus on thinking, language and behavior. Although, the majority of NLP revolves around the “neuro” and raising awareness about what’s happening in the subconscious.

To do this “neuro” work, NLP talks about the modalities of the 5 senses. Each of these senses connects to an area in our minds. By becoming more aware of our senses and how we interpret them and then react, we can better manage them [2].

While this is a central piece of NLP, it’s worth noting that Aristotle already started this hypothesis. Later in the 18th Century, Immanuel Kant proposed a similar model where our interpretation of the world depends on our modes of perception from the senses.

In some ways, this gives reassurance that NLP is founded on proven techniques. You could also reference the Eastern practice of mindfulness that focuses on the present moment by leveraging the 5 senses. With such practice, we explore, challenge and even reshape our world maps.

The 5-4-3-2-1 Stress Reduction Technique

While this Quenza exercise leverages the senses specifically to ground clients and reduce stress, you could also amend it to give it an NLP twist. Once your client has done the general exercise, ask them to do it again but this time to interpret a situation at work or in life through the senses. As Bandler and Grinder quote from Fritz Perls in their book, Frogs into Princes, the aim is to “lose your mind and come to your senses” [3]. In short, what is your present experience telling you without the mind’s judgements? 

Linguistics is another critical part of NLP. In this case, an NLP practitioner would closely listen to what is being said and what is not being said in order to ask probing questions.

For example, asking for clarification around “unspecified comparatives” such as “that is better”. Better than what? A practitioner would also be curious about actual cause and effect. So, is a person angry because of something within them or an external factor?

Language can make us miss the bigger picture and it often frames our thoughts and behaviors. We constantly make assumptions but as any coach knows, those are often the causes of our problems. This is why NLP has its 13 linguistic presuppositions.

This list of 13 beliefs represents the underlying assumptions on which NLP is built. Some will feel more common these days such as “there is no such thing as failure”. Others might be more of a struggle for people such as “we already have all the resources we need” and “behind all behavior is a positive intention”.

Challenging Emotion Myths

This exercise from Quenza’s library takes clients through some common beliefs for them to challenge. As a coach, you can amend or add to this list and include, for example, the NLP presuppositions. 

As you can imagine, working with beliefs can be hugely powerful in organizations. This is especially true when you look at guiding people to work with the belief they have all the resources they need and that all behavior has positive intentions. These can greatly impact conflict management, collaboration and teamwork. If everyone took responsibility for themselves for the outcomes of their communication without blame ever entering their thoughts, office life would be very different.

What is NLP Training?

Before considering the question “What is NLP training?”, it’s worth noting that every coach will use their NLP certification differently. Some might simply use it to boost their current approach while others will actively market themselves as NLP trained.

Whatever your approach, NLP gives you a good grounding in how the mind and the body work together. Moreover, NLP is both experiential and very practical so you’ll get a host of exercises and visualizations you can later apply with your clients to help them understand how they perceive the world. With this insight, they’ll be able to better communicate and make wiser decisions.

For example, NLP training will teach you the meta model which is a specific set of questions to uncover the deeper meaning behind someone’s communication. The approach goes beyond simply asking probing questions. It focuses on which areas the client isn’t specific about and through questions, helps the client unpack their assumptions.

The model uses various categories as a framework including, for example, mind reading, lost performative or value judgment statements, unspecified verbs and many more. Once identified, the practitioner and client work through correcting any generalizations and distortions [4].

For many practitioners, this might sound like CBT in action but where NLP differs is the focus on non-verbal communication and the link with the senses. Anchoring is another often quoted technique within NLP but therapists might know it as conditioning, as originally defined with Pavlov’s dogs.

Another common topic for NLP certification is studying submodalities of memory such as size, color and location. This can be particularly useful for dealing with fears or paranoia.

Anger Iceberg

Another of Quenza’s easy-to-use exercises where you can add an NLP section at the end. Once your client has worked through the reflection points, they will have a defined fear statement. You can then leverage the NLP approach of dealing with the 5 senses (submodalities) where you ask the client to play around with the visual, auditory and kinesthetic appearances of that fear. They can either enlarge or defocus or turn their fear into a tempo with the aim to diminish that fear [4]

NLP certification comes in various forms that range from full-time in-person to full-time online. The latter option is usually self-paced but that depends on which provider you choose. Within that, you also need to know that some courses give a simple overview whilst others offer a more detailed suite of modules.

The practitioner and master modules also differ such that the master modules tend to link to adult developmental theories. They also add another layer to the sensory field such that you learn the difference between internal/external and broad/narrow ways of experiencing the senses [5]. Although, interestingly, those differences are also often tested and played out by meditators. 

When you consider that NLP certification is a way of learning to understand how we all communicate and view the world, you can apply it to any business context and in any industry. We all need better collaboration and teamwork.

The Chessboard Metaphor

This Quenza exercise, inspired by ACT, can be adapted for leaders to reflect on how they are interacting with their team members and what level of control they hold onto. We don’t always have to be the chess pieces in life, as the exercise will show you.

Another example is that most businesses have some form of customer care. A powerful NLP exercise is to step into the future as a customer and imagine what they need and want. Added to that is the level of depth that NLP goes into to adjust our language. So, rather than asking a customer if they have time to talk, a better question would be “When can we talk?” [1].

As pictured above, metaphors are another powerful tool often taught in NLP certification that apply equally well in business. Essentially, stories and images are a less aggressive way to influence by allowing people to imagine alternatives.

Where Does NLP Fit into the World of Coaching? 

Why is NLP certification important? Regardless of whether you need the evidence to back it up or not, the practice of connecting with our subconscious to better manage our behaviors will always be beneficial.

For example, NLP is grounded in the fact that we all have different perspectives and that change starts with us. Most of us know that but it isn’t easy in practice. The NLP exercises give depth and color to the work that’s needed.  

Furthermore, another NLP influencer, Robert Dilts, created a wonderful exercise in 1988 called the NLP Meta-Mirror. The idea is that the problems we face are more a reflection of how we relate to ourselves than about other people. Again, this is also inspired by some of Carl Jung’s work [6].

Whether you want to use NLP for your own development or for your work as a coach depends on you. Either way, you’ll learn to enhance your communication as well as review how you influence.

Logging Positive Beliefs

Here’s another of Quenza’s exercises that you could add NLP to. So, in this one, the client highlights a negative belief but you could include the framework that NLP Practitioners use to pinpoint exactly what type of distortion the client is using. This is very similar to CBT’s concept of distorted thinking but NLP uses more terms to be even more specific. Finally, in the exercise, clients connect with the body and find alternatives, both of which also align with NLP. 

At this point, it’s important to mention that the industry is torn on NLP certification because there haven’t been enough substantial studies to back it up with evidence. Some people have even called it a cult.

A 2019 study by the University of Reading gives a good summary of the lack of evidence supporting NLP [7]. Nevertheless, the more you dig into NLP, the more you realize that most of it is borrowed from various fields including CBT, ACT, mindfulness and many more which are all evidence based. So, if you apply the exercises wisely, you still gain a suite of tools and greater insight into the mind-body connection.

As you’ll see in the 2019 study, they also explore some of the more questionable NLP claims such as eye movements are reliable indicators of thought patterns. Pop psychology shares this belief and perhaps it is true. Then again, we’re still so early on in our journey of understanding the mind, the brain and how the body fits into it that we simply don’t have enough evidence.

Despite all this, NLP can boost your creativity when it comes to your own coaching approach. On the other hand, if you’re looking to follow evidence-based theories, it’s perhaps best to keep to the more established fields.

What is an NLP Certification?

So, what is NLP training? It’s where you learn the tools and techniques to better understand your subconscious for more effective communication and influencing.

More specifically, what is NLP certification? It’s a set of modules delivered in various formats including webinars, in-person tutorials, classes and assessments. As you can imagine, the quality varies. That’s why you ideally also want to make sure your course is accredited by the ICF or another of the top coaching organizations.

As mentioned, the practitioner course focuses on key principles and frameworks. If you want to go further, the master certification goes deeper into the psychology behind it all. Finally, some providers offer trainer certification as well as the diploma level. It really then comes down to what you want to do with your NLP.

The Best NLP Certifications

Choosing the right NLP certification depends on each person. Although, some key factors to include are, as expected, the cost and duration as well as the breadth and depth of the course. You might also want to check online for specific reviews about the courses you’re investigating.

Another useful tip is to look for training providers that are supported by the founders, Richard Bandler or John Grinder, if the trainers aren’t accredited by another governing body similar to the ICF.

To get you started, we’ve put together some of the best NLP certification courses out there:

Course Structure



Association for Neuro-Linguistic ProgrammingBased in the UK, covers all levels:  diploma, practitioner, master practitioner, trainer and master trainerWhilst not specifically partnered with the original founders, Robert Dilts who was part of the founding team and colleagues with Bandler and Grinder, sits on the council. Also accredited with other governing bodies in psychologyFull-time virtual offered and all costs given on application.
iNLP CenterPractitioner and master training 100% online and self-pacedICF and International NLP AssociationPractitioner cost $499 and combining it with the master level costs $899 
NLP-Techniques.orgPractitioner and Master levels offered as well Business Practitioner and Coach PractitionerPartners with Richard Bandler as well as renowned coach Marshall Goldsmith and others.Offers some free videos on NLP techniques. Everything is online and the practitioner course costs GBP2100 over 6 months.  
Global NLP-Training.orgNLP and Sales, NLP and seduction, NLP Leadership, NLP Coaching, NLP Hypnosis, and NLP Health – also includes special course on marketing your coaching business onlineCo-founded by Richard BandlerPractitioner course costs GBP2100 

How to Become a Certified NLP Practitioner

If you’re a coach, you might now be wondering how to become a certified NLP practitioner. First, as you can probably guess, is to find your perfect course and sign up. You then work through the lessons, exercises and assessments as required.

In essence, the answer to “What is NLP certification?” lies in how you then use it. Once you’re certified, it can be your go-to toolbox to keep your coaching practice alive. It might also act as a checkin for yourself that you’re on track to staying mindful of both your subconscious and behaviors. Of course, it can also be your new unique selling point (USP) for your coaching bio.

Reframing Avoidance Goals to Approach Goals

Quenza offers hundreds of ready-made exercises that you can easily amend. For instance, you can tweak this one to follow the NLP TOTE (Test, Operate, Test, Exit) approach. Clients work through the exercise to define the gap between what they want compared to their present state. As a coach, you can then include a section to work through the NLP VAK (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) internal and external strategies to help clients reflect on which approach they should use to get their desired outcome [1].

How Long Does NLP Training Take? 

The best NLP certification is one that takes at least 6 months because of the depth of topics you cover. Although, there are some self-paced ones that can also deliver the detail you need. Either way, the rule of thumb for the “How long does NLP training take?” is around 6 months. Although, it can take longer depending on your pace of study.

Another way to think about NLP certification is that you’ll get somewhere between 50 and 200 hours of study depending on the course you choose. At the end of the day, why is NLP important? Essentially, it allows you to reflect on the filters through which you view the world. You then learn how to adjust them according to the situation and help your clients accordingly.

Using Self-Distanced Language to Gain Perspective on Negative Events

While this Quenza activity is not an NLP exercise, you can easily adapt it to allow your clients to practice shifting their language to note different viewpoints. This exercise looks at who is the observer, as inspired by ACT, but why not add another dimension and include another person in the dynamic? Analyzing the first, second and third person observer reflection can truly shift someone’s thinking.

As coaches, our aim is to guide people to transform something about themselves, whatever they decide. The reason we get up in the mornings is to witness those a-ha moments. NLP certification could be the tool to allow you to do this. Then, it’s up to you to combine it with whatever methodology you follow. For more ideas, check out this overview of techniques and software tools for transformative life coaching.

How Does NLP Certification Fit Into Your Coaching Practice? 

NLP certification is highly popular and often in demand. In short, people are increasingly searching to understand what goes on in their subconscious. No one enjoys being reactive and we all look for more control of our behaviors.

Richard Bandler and John Grinder’s work from the 1970s founded NLP certification and the approach has evolved since. Although, there might not be specific evidence directly supporting NLP. Nevertheless, as it borrows from multiple fields, individual topics and exercises are usually evidence based.

If you’re a coach looking to get a sense of how the various psychology fields come together then NLP certification could be for you. Moreover, as a coach, it gives you a valuable toolbox of exercises to give your coaching practice a creative edge.

To really get that creative edge, you need to partner with an online software platform. That’s how you can stand out from the crowd: by offering tailored and personalized exercises. Quenza is one of the few platforms that offers this with hundreds of exercises already made based on evidence-based psychology techniques.

With so many coaches out there, this could be a powerful way to differentiate yourself. Why not have a go for yourself and check out how easy it is to send out uniquely designed exercises? It’s so quick and simple to sign up for the free, full-access, one-month $1-only trial and you won’t be disappointed.


  1. ^ Bartkowiak, J. (2012). The Neuro-linguistic Programming Workbook. The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.
  2. ^ Knight, S. (1995). NLP At Work. Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
  3. ^ Bandler, R., & Grinder, J. (1979). Frogs into Princes. Real People Press.
  4. ^ NCC. (n.d.). Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NCC Resources Ltd.
  5. ^ iNLP Center. (n.d.). The Best NLP Training & Certification from the World’s First Online NLP Institute. Retrieved from
  6. ^ Burton, K., & Ready, R. (2008). Neurolinguistic Programming for Dummies. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
  7. ^ Passmore, J., & Rowson, T. (2019). Neuro-linguistic-programming: a critical review of NLP research and the application of NLP in coaching. University of Reading. Retrieved from

About the author

Anne is a coach-counselor with a background in neuroscience, mindfulness, Gestalt therapy, and adult developmental theory.

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