Great North Run

A therapist on the runThe photographic roof is finally in. I really did run in this year’s Great North Run. This is the only photo in the set that doesn’t show me running with my head down.

It must have been the moment that two of the Red Arrows flew just overhead and gave a lot of us a hell of a fright!

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who sponsored me in the run on behalf of St Oswald’s Hospice. If you would like to make a donation based on the anguish etched in my face (cue gypsy violinist) you can do that here.

Just to prove that insanity plows a deep furrow in our family I’ve signed up to do next year’s Edinburgh Marathon on May 31st the week after my 50th birthday. (I can’t wait to see those photos).

EFT Level 2 Training in Newcastle

Level 2 LogoI’m running an EFT Level 2 Practitioner Training in January 2009. The training spread over two successive Saturdays (17th & 31st). The training is intended for those in the helping professions who wish to add this extremely effective method to their toolkit.

You need to have successfully completed an EFT Level 1 before taking this course. On this course you will learn more sophisticated approaches for dealing with trauma, cravings, physical symptoms and more. On completion of the training and the sucessful submission of two case studies you will receive an AAMET EFT Practitioner certificate.

The training will be on Saturday 17th and Saturday 31st of January 2009 at St Oswald’s Hospice Teaching Centre, Gosforth, Newcastle.

Fees: £175 if paid before November 17th, £200 before December 17th and £250 thereafter.

To book a place on the course or request more information use contact form here.

You charge people money for this? Good grief.

This comment from ‘L Street’ appeared on the Therapy page of this website but I’d like to address it here on the front page because he  makes some interesting points that are well worth addressing.  For simplicities sake I’m going to assume ‘L Street’ is a he, she can correct me if I’m wrong.

You charge people money for this? Good grief.

Show me meta-analyses of double-blind peer reviewed work – verifiable, repeatable and leading to predicting future outcomes. You can’t, because NLP is hocus-pocus. It was so thoroughly discredited way back in the 1980’s that you can’t even find any credible research that isn’t 20 years old.

Snake-oil for the modern world. Catharsis as commodity. Any benefits you have noticed are almost certainly merely due to providing someone with empathy, rapport, unconditional acceptance and the precious rare experience of being fully attended to. But that’s all. Anecdotes are not evidence.

People can go to any free local befriending service for the same outcome.

I apologise in advance this is going to be a long post.

As far as I know I have never met L Street. I assume from what he has written that he is very concerned that people in need get the most appropriate and effective treatment available. I happen to agree with that, however we obviously differ on how that might be done and how you would know what is effective or not.

I’ll go step by step through the comment apart from the first line which I’ll save for last.

Show me meta-analyses of double-blind peer reviewed work – verifiable, repeatable and leading to predicting future outcomes.

Peer reviewed work of what exactly? NLP isn’t a psychological theory (and never claimed to be) it’s a collection of inter-related (though not inter-dependent) models.

Coincidentally the Today program on Radio 4 just had an interview with Sir Michael Rawlins the Chairman of NICE questioning the omnipotence of the Randomised Control Trial model of figuring out what works.

You can evaluate the results of applying one of those models, eye-accessing cues, fast phobia cure, and so forth by experiment. But even if you established with good and repeatable experiments that the eye accessing model was statistically unlikely, that wouldn’t say anything about the rest of NLP. Any more than demonstrating a particular anti-depressant is no better than placebo invalidates the whole of pharmacology.

You can’t, because NLP is hocus-pocus.

You’re right, I can’t, but not because NLP is hocus pocus, rather because those experiments haven’t been done yet.

It was so thoroughly discredited way back in the 1980’s that you can’t even find any credible research that isn’t 20 years old.

Would you like to be specific about the thorough discrediting? They wouldn’t happen to be the ‘Dillingham‘ experiment and the ‘Hogan‘ experiments by any chance?  Follow the links to read a critique of those ‘discreditings’. In fact if you follow the link you can read a more detailed and closely argued article about NLP and Research than I can provide here.

You could run some proper research about the effects of applying one or other of these models and get some statistically significant answers. I present a sample of published pieces of research written in the last 20 (supposedly empty) years. I’ve listed them for your convenience at the end of this post. Some of them even appear in credible peer reviewed journals.

By the way I agree with you that there is a lack of research, I’m a science geek so I’m quite interested in what science has to say about NLP amongst other things.

I think there are a few reasons behind the scarcity of published reseach.

  1. Most NLPers have a pragmatic, empiricist point of view, they might be mildly interested in research, but on the whole if it works that’ll do.
  2. In contrast to Aaron Beck, a doctor and the founder of the current therapy de jour, CBT who started his work in the sixties, in a medical school with access to all the implements of research. NLP wasn’t started by psychologists, the founders had no interest in formulating a psychological theory or testing it out, they just wanted to be able to model what other people did well. Interest in researching the effects of NLP in a formal setting by people who know something about it is a comparatively recent phenomenon. So CBT has about 20 or 30 years head start in that regard. Perhaps we could have this conversation again in 2028 and see how things have developed.
  3. Research is horrifically expensive – who’s going to pay for it? Drug companies have a bottom line to support, universities have theories and papers to publish. If there’s noone to write the cheque the research isn’t going to get done.
  4. If you look at the papers listed at the end of this post, you will find a huge variety of applications of NLP. From such a wide field coming up with enough studies about one particular area to come to any (statistically) significant conclusion is going to take a while.

Having said that there are areas of research that validate ideas that have been common currency in NLP without ever directly mentioning or having heard of NLP. For example: Research catches up with NLP

Snake-oil for the modern world. Catharsis as commodity.

Would you care to explain those, they make good sound bites but I don’t know what you mean by them.

Any benefits you have noticed are almost certainly merely due to providing someone with empathy, rapport, unconditional acceptance and the precious rare experience of being fully attended to.

Back when ‘Adam was a lad’, I took a diploma in Person Centred Therapy (the therapy de jour then), Carl Rogers the author of the ‘necessary and sufficient conditions of therapy’ you mention was one of the trainers. So I have a great fondness for empathy, rapport and unconditional positive regard. I think they are necessary but they may not be sufficient.

By the way what exactly are the benefits I would notice?

But that’s all.

Is it? I wonder how you know that?

Anecdotes are not evidence.

That’s true, they are not statistically significant evidence. However they are where most theories start whether they grow up into something more substantial is a matter of time (and money). And statistics aside everyone’s experience of therapy, yours and mine included, would ‘just’ be anecdotal but none the less important for all that.

People can go to any free local befriending service for the same outcome

Do you know what the outcomes (both what they want and what they get) of my clients are? If you don’t then I don’t see how you can make that claim – where’s your evidence?

And finally back to the beginning

You charge money for this. Good grief

What exactly is the ‘this’ that you think I am charging for?

As far as I know we’ve never met and you have never been my client. So how do you know what I do and what my clients get out of it?

“Good grief”. Hmm … in my opinion the evidence you’ve presented doesn’t support that conclusion.

Here’s that short list of post 1990 research papers related to NLP

  1. Duncan, R. C., Konefal, J., Spechler, M. M. (1990): “Effect of neurolinguistic programming training on self-actualization as measured by the Personal Orientation Inventory.” Psychol Rep. Jun, Vol. 66(3 Pt 2) pp. 1323-30.
  2. Read more

A Trip To The Dentist – Part II

You may remember I wrote about how I prepared to make a long overdue dental appointment more bearable by using EFT. Today I got an unexpected opportunity to see how long lasting those preparations were.

I was due a checkup this morning. I went expecting to get a quick once over to check how my fillings were holding up and to be sent on my way. To my surprise the dental hygienist asked me to put on the safety glasses, had my sit in the chair and approached me with one of those fearsome scraping implements.

I had no time to prepare I just had to ‘lie there and think of England’. Funnily enough it wasn’t that bad, I was fairly relaxed and the scraping, gouging & polishing all happened without too much difficulty. It wasn’t comfortable I definitely wouldn’t book it as a birthday treat but I survived quite well.

However I did have quite a lot of distracted and anxious thoughts during the process. As I look back at the check-up I would give the experience a score of 6 out of 10 for discomfort. For the purposes of an experiment I’ve decided to treat it as a ‘traumatic’ experience and apply EFT to relieve the memory.

Using the ‘movie technique‘ one of the most useful techniques in EFT. First it clears up the memory, second I think it will soften the reaction to those triggers in future dental appointments, so I will be able to relax and ‘enjoy’ the experience even more.

I started with the general statement:

  • Even though I have this check-up memory, I’m all right, I’m OK.. etc, etc

Using it to soften the overall charge on the memory, then I went through the memory step by step neutralising the following aspects.

  • The dental hygenist handing me the protective glasses – 4/10
  • The hygenist leaning over me with the scraper – 6/10
  • The whine and heat of the ‘water drill’ as it scoured away the tartar – 6/10
  • A pain at the base of my front teeth from the ‘water drill’ – 6/10
  • All the worrying thoughts in my mind about ‘What will happen if …? ‘- 8/10
  • The fact that I didn’t like it. – 8/10

Finally I replayed the scene to check that it was free of emotional charge, which it was. In three months time I have another appointment and I’ll be interested to compare how comfortable I am at that session compared to the last one.

It would be nice to think that just one session of EFT (or anything else) will completely resolve a problem. Sometimes it does, there are many tales of ‘one minute wonders’ on the www.emofree.com website, but many times we need to do a little bit, notice the results, do a bit more, notice the results and so on until we get to the outcome we want.

I don’t know if I’ll have got all the aspects of the visits to the dentist situation sorted out but I’ll find out in three months, and if I haven’t that just more information to help me get to a better result the time after that.

Framing the debate: bail-out or rescue?

Framing is an important part of any communication. How we ‘frame’ a message can dramatically change it’s effectiveness.

In this BBC News article If only the bail-out had been called a rescue Jonathan Gabay discusses how choice of words affected the passage of America’s $700 billion bail-out plan. The use of the word bail-out is the problem he compares and contrasts two different ways of making the same pitch.

Would you prefer a $700 billion bail-out plan, or a $700 million rescue plan?

In both cases the plan is the same, the frame is different. Bail-out suggest failure and breakdown, rescue suggests heroic efforts to save the day.

The article contains an excellent discussion of the use of these frames although he talks about it in terms of branding rather than framing.

If you are interested in frames an excellent book about framing is Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff. It’s about framing in American politics but the principles are good far beyond that bear pit.

Research Catches Up With NLP

NLP has been in existence for more than 30 years. One of it’s signature techniques is the Visual Kinesthetic (VK) dissociation process that is used to distance oneself from stressful experiences.

‘Real’ psychologists can be a bit ‘sniffy’ about NLP processes citing the lack of scientific research in this field. They might find some reassurance from the article Analyse Emotions From a Distance.

The article reviews a study from Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan which suggests that the best way to cope with distressing situations is to analyse feelings from a psychologically distanced perspective.

It is an invaluable human ability to think about what we do, but reviewing our mistakes over and over, re-experiencing the same negative emotions the we felt the first time around, tends to keep us stuck in negativity. It can be very helpful to take a sort of mental time out, to sit back and review the situation from a distance

This effect revolves around a fundamental distinction in NLP.

When we are remembering (or imagining) a situation are we ‘fully in’ the situation seeing it from our own eyes, feeling the feelings and hearing the sounds as if they were happening to us right now? If so then we are ‘associated’ into that experience.

Or are we seeing the experience as an onlooker as if we are watching ourselves on TV, as if the experience was happening to someone else. If so then we are ‘dissociated’ from the experience.

Read more

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