INCA was created in 2020 by Peter Freeth, an executive coach with nearly 30 years experience, and a Master trainer of NLP.
As the coaching market matured, and as NLP's influence was diluted by other practices such as mindfulness and CBT, NLP came to be regarded by many as simply a toolkit that a coach might use, alongside others. Useful here and there, but by no means operating on the same level as coaching itself. At the same time, coaches were attending NLP training in increasing numbers as they realised that their coaching skills, in themselves, were not enough to effect transformational and long-lasting change in their clients.
Many NLP trainers turned to coaching as a growth market, however NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner trainings do not equip students with any coaching framework or methodology within which to place their NLP skills.
In short, NLP is not coaching, and coaching, by itself, is not effective.
Why is this?
The promise of the coaching schools and associations is that, with the right questions, the coach can enable any client to achieve any result. In practice, this does not account for the complexity of the client's life story, and coaches are often frustrated when their clients cannot come up with the answers.
NLP, conversely, offers a powerful and flexible methodology for creating personal change, yet it needs a reliable framework within which to operate, and coaching is a good option for this. For example, the coach needs to create contracts and boundaries with the client, to plan a long term approach to the client's development, and to manage the overall client relationship both within a coaching session and in a broader context.
The majority of NLP training is focused on the therapeutic applications of NLP, which should be expected as the first role models to be studied were themselves therapists. However, a common misconception is that NLP comprises a set of tools for personal change; this is not true. The change 'techniques' which are the familiar face of NLP are themselves the results of NLP applied in a therapeutic environment. NLP itself is a modelling system, a way of understanding and codifying the innate neurological processes that give rise to the behaviours of excellence. If we model therapists, we create therapy techniques, yet if we model Michelin chefs, we create a culinary techniques. The applications of NLP are therefore limitless, and a coach who primarily uses NLP as their foundational methodology has the ability to model and integrate any new tool or method into their work. This is not simply about learning a new coaching tool, the NLP modelling system enables the coach to acquire the innate experiences and processes of the expert and integrate them into their own practice.
Therefore, the coaching associations do not recognise the breadth and depth of NLP's potential in coaching, and the NLP associations do not recognise coaching as a distinctive framework for the application of NLP in a personal or business context.
This is the reason that INCA was created.
A profession requires two key components; a professional body of knowledge, and a self-regulating association of members.
When coaching first emerged as a distinct market, it had neither of these. However, as the market grew, and as universities saw an opportunity to grow in a new direction, research emerged. Some universities have research centres, others provide courses up to PhD level where students produce research. All of this has created an academic aspect to the coaching body of knowledge, when 20 years ago, coaching theory was derived from psychology and psychotherapy.
One of the earliest schools of modern coaching, CoachU, formed a professional association which later became the ICF. The ICF is a business, not a professional body. The first phase of the ICF's market strategy was to gain coaches as members, promising access to emerging corporate markets. The second phase was to position ICF as the endorsement of quality for corporate buyers. The third and current phase is to create a market for ICF's accredited trainers and supervisors. The ICF's core business is therefore to make money from training organisations who want to access the growing ICF marketplace.
When NLP was first created as a project within a university, it had the potential to find a home in the human potential movement of the 1970s and 1980s, however the creators and early adopters did much to alienate the 'establishment' and NLP was sidelined as a pseudoscience. The components which made up NLP such as transformational grammar, systems theory and hypnotherapy were not influenced by this, and approaches derived from NLP such as CBT have also gained much academic and professional credibility.
The first NLP association, the SNLP, was in a perfect position to unify the field, build credibility, create strong links with the academic and therapeutic communities and bring practitioners together. Instead, political battles between the co-creators caused the SNLP to fragment, and many of the original trainers set up their own competing associations. Today, no-one knows how many associations there are, but the majority serve only sell certificates for the trainers who created them.
There is a body of research into NLP, however it is largely focused on the therapeutic aspects of NLP. For example, the R&R project was a repository of academic research for NLP, but has now merged solely into a treatment for PTSD and, as is often the case, makes no mention of NLP. One of NLP's co-creators, Richard Bandler, has openly criticised the therapeutic establishment and following his attempt to trademark the term 'NLP' for his exclusive use, many well-known trainers rebranded NLP as their own work, including NHR, NeuroSemantics, New Code NLP and DHE. Many other methodolgies have emerged from NLP, diluting its value still further.
Why, then, do we need a professional association like INCA?
The foundation of NLP is modelling, and any human behaviour can be modelled, codified, transferred and learned.
The foundation of coaching is reflective learning.
Coaching and NLP together are a powerful partnership, and coaches who use NLP as their primary methodology are not represented by the established associations. INCA is the professional home for these coaches.