Blog Post No. 171
By Dr Jim Byrne
24th July 2018
Dr Jim’s Blog: *Lifestyle Counsellors* are gurus of *Extreme Self-Care*
We live in very difficult times. Stress levels in the Anglo-American world are the worst for many decades, resulting in an epidemic of emotional distress – manifesting as depression, anxiety, panic and anger outbursts. Mental health is in crisis. Physical health is in crisis. (See *The China Study*, by Campbell and Campbell, 2006). The so-called high-tech health systems of the Anglo-American world are failing to maintain the health of our nations.
Sitting on the periphery of this mess is the legion of counsellors and psychotherapists, who have to decide where to stand on these developments. But there are really only two places to stand. One involves covering your eyes with a blinder, and soldiering on pointlessly. And the other involves waking up and doing something about this mess.
When seekers after truth trek across the vast wildernesses of India, China and Japan; and find a guru – a teacher – to awaken them, the guru does not ask the seeker a set of diagnostic questions, and then look in a big, fat book for the answers. No. The guru is a *living example* of how to be awake. They consult their *personal journey* to know the answer to the seeker’s questions about their own journey.
Learning by doing, and then teaching it!
In similar fashion, Lifestyle Counsellors do not look in a big fat book for the answers to their clients’ body-brain-mind-environment problems. Instead, we use our own experience (which has to include a lot of just-in-time reading and habit-change), as practitioners of *Extreme Self-Care*, to advise and guide our seekers, or clients. (We might refer a client for additional help from another type of therapist, who deals with diet, or exercise, of sleep, etc. But we already know about diet, and exercise and sleep ourselves, because of the self-care journey upon which we have been engaged for years!)
A counsellor who eats junk food cannot teach their clients how to engage in extreme self-care; any more than a sleep-deprived counsellor can teach their clients about the importance of sleep; or a sedentary counsellor can teach the importance of physical activity.
The Lifestyle Counselling revolution is a revolution of self-care. And *extreme self-care* is the only hope we have of coping with the stresses and strains, and the health and happiness challenges, that we face in the modern American Empire.
Teaching by example
If you do not take control of your own physical and mental health, and your emotional wellbeing, how can you hope to help your clients to cope with the social and economic mess in which they currently live?
“Talking while Rome burns” is no longer an ethical option!
Do you believe in the importance of *extreme self-care*? If you do, then you have to pursue it; and, if possible, teach it. And you have to campaign for social policies which support extreme self-care for every citizen!
Our informational input on this subject
We have now produced a page of information about how to move beyond the Cartesian delusion of the separate mind, and into a new era of whole *Lifestyle Counselling*. We see this as the core of most healing practices of the future. (For more on this subject, take a look at our page: *Counselling the Whole Person, by Dr Jim Byrne*: https://abc-counselling.org/counselling-the-whole-person/)
For some years to come, this form of Holistic/Integrative/Lifestyle counselling practice will be a novel service-offering for counsellors and clients who have realized that:
# the body and mind are interdependent and interactional;
# that the body-mind is an open system, affected by a whole range of lifestyle factors which can be managed well, or mismanaged,
# resulting in excellent or poor mental health, physical health, emotional wellbeing and personal happiness/unhappiness.
In the pages of our popular book, we have presented:
– a summary of our previous book about the impact of diet and exercise on mental health and emotional well-being;
– a chapter which integrates psychological theories of emotion with physical sources of distress – for the emotions of anger, anxiety and depression – and recommends treatment strategies;
– a chapter on the science of sleep, and the effect of sleep insufficiency on our thinking, feeling and behaviour;
– a chapter on how to re-frame any problem, using our Six Windows Model (which contains six perspectives from moderate Buddhism and moderate Stoicism – but excludes the extreme forms of those philosophies of life!);
– a chapter on how to identify and assess the counselling client’s sources of emotional disturbance, using the Holistic-SOR Model;
– and a chapter on how to set about teaching lifestyle change to counselling and therapy clients.
For more on this subject, take a look at our page: *Counselling the Whole Person, by Dr Jim Byrne*: https://abc-counselling.org/counselling-the-whole-person/
If you want to know how to change any habit, in the areas of diet and exercise, etc; then you need to see our book on How to control your anger, anxiety and depression, using nutrition and physical activity.***
That’s all for now.
Dr Jim Byrne
Doctor of Counselling