Why Doesn't the IBCP Approve Live Virtual Trainings (i.e., Zoom) for Certification?

Friday, July 2nd, 2021 : Read 2,621 Times : 1872 words (Aprox 8 min read)

One of the most common questions we have been getting from prospective members and trainer members is, "Why doesn't the IBCP approve live virtual certification trainings?"

This is an important question to answer, especially as the world seems to be moving more virtual for just about everything after COVID.

Some people perceive that we are recently "clamping down" on virtual trainings, but our Standards for Certification have never allowed for virtual trainings.

Unfortunately, there are many trainers in the field who hold profit as their highest value who are cutting corners to increase their bottom line (for example, running three-day Practitioner trainings, five-day Master Practitioner trainings, 30-hour Udemy courses, even online/virtual Trainer's Trainings, none of which are valid for certification or accepted in the field). Because of that, it becomes even more and more important for us to have, to protect, and to enforce high standards in the field. This is not an attempt at being "old school," but rather out of a need to protect the integrity of the field, to keep the field at a high level of competency and efficacy, and to retain the level of respect we have earned as a field over the last 50 years.

There are several reasons why we do not accept live virtual trainings, and I will illustrate them here:

1. Lack of Focus

Studies and surveys have shown conclusively that people are just not as focused, not as attentive, and do not retain information while on a live virtual training versus a live in-person training.

This is due to several environmental and psychological conditions such as visual overwhelm, lack of a learning environment, a principle known as the Ringelmann Effect, and distractions.

2. Lack of Engagement

We know from studies in the educational field that students need to interact to fully learn and integrate information.

During COVID, we experimented with several of our approved trainer members, temporarily allowing virtual trainings on a case-by-case basis with the restriction that they provide the board with a login to observe the training. We repeatedly saw people texting, having conversations with people off-camera, leaving for bathroom breaks, and even cooking! Even when each trainer would admonish students and remind them they had to be fully engaged, they would stay engaged for a short period of time, and then their engagement would slip.

Often people would turn their cameras off temporarily, and we would have no way of verifying if they were even still there. Some would claim that their camera or microphone was broken — or both.

Here's one such actual image from a Zoom training, and nearly half of the students have their cameras off, with the trainer having no idea whether they were event attending the course or not.

When students are told at the end of the training that they cannot graduate and be certified with others because they missed time, they often become irate and unruly, insisting that they are being singled-out and persecuted.

Because students are usually muted by default, they were often not engaging with the trainer, nor with the other students — an experience most people who are opposed to taking pre-recorded trainings usually claim they need.

Having students unmute their microphone throughout the training was not feasible due to the loud environment some of the students were in (sometimes with TVs on and family members conversing in the background... also not conducive to learning).

3. Lack of Accountability and Evaluation

For a student to earn a diploma, and ultimately, a board certification, they need to be evaluated doing each and every technique taught at a certification training. In a live training, this can be accomplished by having one trainer, one team member, or (most commonly) one volunteer (known as an "evaluator") for every nine people in the training. The evaluator can stand in the middle of three groups of three people each, listening to, watching, assisting, and evaluating the students to ensure they have integrated the information and are executing it properly.

In a virtual meeting, this is not the case. Since participants are broken into separate rooms of two or three people for each exercise, an evaluator is needed for every two or three people, to stay in the room with the participants and watch one student at a time complete the exercise.

Each trainer who petitioned to do a virtual training assured us that they would be able to get enough volunteers to match every two students in the training. But getting people to volunteer to take seven days out of their lives to come and help is a challenge. Even getting one volunteer for every nine students is a challenge for us sometimes, and we have thousands of graduates! In every case, volunteers backed out, no-showed, or only showed up for part of the time, leaving the students unable to be graduated.

It seems that both volunteers and students are just not as committed to live virtual trainings as they are to live in-person trainings.

At NLP Master Practitioner Training, the Personal Breakthrough Session exercise would require a one volunteer for each group of two to be in each room evaluating a full eight-hour session the entire time.

One trainer recently had zero volunteers show up and had to switch his evaluation model to individual video submission, forcing him to watch six hours of exercise videos per student to graduate his class.

Also, we observed that often, when students were sent to rooms to do the exercise, some students would simply not accept the invitation to join the breakout room, not only missing the exercise themselves, but robbing the other student(s) of having a partner to practice with.

4. Inability to Do Some Required Exercises

There are some exercises that just must be done in person, due to the physical nature of the exercise.

Some of these are:

  • Sliding anchors
  • Arm catalepsy
  • Full body catalepsy
  • Pendulum work
  • Spiral dynamics exercises
  • Rapid hypnosis inductions

Since these exercises are required for certification and cannot be done virtually, this alone prevents virtual trainings from being accepted for certification.

5. Lack of Experience

NLP trainings are not just about information. If they were, everyone would be able to read a book and be certified. Part of certification is the behavioral integration of NLP principles. This means that Practitioners, Master Practitioners, and Trainers are not just to know the information, but to live the principles themselves — to walk the talk. This becomes more important (and more necessary to evaluate) the higher the student ascends up the levels of certification.

While we find that virtual students can often retain the information presented, they do not receive the same transformative experience as being in-person with the trainer and the other students being fully immersed in the environment and the training.

Without sugar-coating it: It is difficult for someone who has not transformed themselves to go out and transform others.

6. Lack of Respect

While this is not a reason we don't accept certifications, it is a reason you should not want to take a virtual training (or, if you're a trainer, why you should not want to conduct virtual trainings).

The field of NLP is an academic field with about 50 years of history behind it. Roughly 99% of that history is pre-virtual-trainings. The vast majority of people trained in this field went through live, in-person trainings to earn their certificates. People work hard to earn their NLP certifications and everybody makes sacrifices, such as making the effort to attend a training, to earn them. They are hard-earned and well-earned. Taking a virtual training (which people often take because it's easier and/or cheaper and which most people in the field perceive as a "shortcut") will not be looked upon favorably by your peers in the field. Many in the field who have graduated virtual trainings (or worse, Udemy-style courses that are only 12 to 30 hours) already have very negative reputations due to taking non-standard trainings and calling themselves "certified."

If your reputation is something that is important to you, I suggest attending an accepted, standards-based training.

But, Doesn't the IBCP Approve Video Home Study Courses? What's the Difference?

Yes, the IBCP does approve a limited level of non-virtual, standards-based, video home study courses, including:

  • Introductory courses
    • Beginning hypnosis
    • Beginning coaching
    • Emotional Freedom Techniques
  • NLP Practitioner Training

Video home study courses are not allowed for any of the higher-level trainings of the Master or Trainer levels.

The difference between a virtual training and a home study course are:

  1. With a video home study, progress and hours can be tracked through video tracking. This is not the case on a virtual training where the student can (and often does) turn off their camera or get up and leave and we cannot verify that they are watching or listening
  2. With a video home study, if a distraction arises (such as the baby crying or needing changing, or the need for a "potty" break) or a student misses something that was said, the student can pause, rewind, and re-watch the video. This is not possible if they miss some of a virtual training. If a student gets tired or loses focus, they can pause the video, take a break, stretch, and come back when they're fresh. They cannot do this on a virtual training
  3. Students are evaluated individually, one-by-one, by a certified Trainer and given detailed feedback on each technique. This is usually not the case with a virtual training as finding enough evaluators to attend the entire virtual training has proven extremely difficult


To add to everything stated above, at my training institute, we have noticed a stark difference in competency between those who have trained virtually and those who have trained at a real, in-person, standards-based training. This has become so prevalent that we have moved to barring students who graduated from a virtual training from attending our next-level trainings (for example, from NLP Practitioner to Master Practitioner, or from NLP Master Practitioner to Trainer's Training).

Ultimately, as a leading certification board in our field, it is our responsibility to keep the standards high and to protect the integrity of our field. If we are going to issue a gold-seal certificate indicating that someone is worthy of the title of Certified Practitioner, Certified Master Practitioner, Certified Trainer, or Certified Master Trainer — putting our reputation on the line — then we feel students must be trained at the highest level, and virtual trainings do not meet that standard.

If you have any questions about certification, standards, or trainings in general, or want to find an approved trainer to qualify for certification, you can contact us directly here.


Leave a Comment Here:

This Blog


Bookmark This Page

Recent Posts

Recent Posts


Our Mission

The IBCP's mission is to support our registered members and to promote the use of Success Coaching, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Emotional Freedom Techniques, Hypnotherapy and TIME Techniques world-wide.

Contact Us

5940 S Rainbow Blvd, Ste 400 #51903
Las Vegas NV 89118
Toll-Free (US): 1 (888) 731-8375
Direct: +1 (714) 243-8701