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Classic NLP for beginners

"NLP in 21 Days - A complete introduction and training programme"
by Harry Alder and Beryl Heather, Piatkus, 301pp £20.00hb, 1999

Review by Mark McKergow

This book is clearly aimed at the novice end of the market and, according to the jacket blurb, "is an authoritative guide that covers the full international syllabus for NLP practitioner training". The book is presented in 21 sections, with the suggestion that you read a section, perhaps daily, and put into practice via the suggested To Do lists before proceeding.

The contents are solid, "classical" NLP, and do indeed cover the ground comprehensively. All the usual terminology is in place, with a glossary to help understanding and memory. John Seymour is thanked at the beginning for his help with the glossary (and I think one or two of the illustrations are slightly familiar too). NLP in 21 Days reminded me of John and Joseph O'Connor's Introducing NLP in its tone, slightly earnest but well organised, thorough and clearly presented.

The book starts off with an enthusiastic Foreword by John Overdurf and Julie Silverthorn, and moves through a short introduction covering how the book might help you and how to use it. We then have the 21 "Days", each of which is 10 - 20 pages long and features a "Presupposition for the Day" as well as exercises and applications. The first day is an overview of the NLP model and subjective experience, followed by goals, rapport, representational systems, language (Milton and Meta) and metaphors (we're now 11 days in). The trip continues with perceptual positions, time (would someone with a preference for in-time sorting buy a book called NLP in 21 Days? - just a thought:-)), neurological levels, reframing, strategies, modelling, anchors and change techniques.

This sequence seems pretty well thought out, with a big picture opening leading into the basics of outcomes and rapport, with more tricky stuff like the phobia cure at the end. The basics are well coverted. As always with this kind of instructional book, I'm not sure it's enough to learn the application of actual methodologies, particularly the more advanced ones, by simply reading it. (I'm really not sure I'd want to have my personal history changed by someone who'd only read the book.) However, there are the traditional pointers to the authors' seminars and training at the end.

The book concludes with the glossary, an excellent index and some solid if unsurprising suggestions for further reading. This book has no surprises, and that's a good way to be for the intended audiencet. As Bob Janes has said in Rapport, some books are sprinters, some are stayers and some are non-starters. I think this could well be a stayer, although it might have had more impact a few years ago. Nonetheless I'd have enjoyed this book at the start of my own NLP explorations, and you may know someone who would too. A final thought - now books like this are around, can we please stop talking about Frogs into Princes as the ideal NLP starter work?

This review was originally published in NLP World 6, No 3 pp 81 - 82 (1999)