Creative writing and the therapeutic journey

Blog Post No. 155

18th July 2017 – Updated on 22nd January 2019

Copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne, 2018-2019

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: Recent books

If you have come to this page looking for recent books by Dr Jim Byrne (with Renata Taylor-Byrne), then here is the list of the latest books: on Lifestyle Counselling; Writing Therapy; and Diet and Exercise linked to emotional functioning; plus building successful couple relationships.

~~~

Book Descriptions:

Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person: 

Or how to integrate nutritional insights, physical exercise and sleep coaching into talk therapy

Front cover Lifestyle Counselling

By Dr Jim Byrne, with Renata Taylor-Byrne

Published by the Institute for E-CENT Publications

Available at Amazon outlets.***

The contents

In this book, you will find a very clear, brief, easy to read introduction to a novel approach to ‘counselling the whole person’. This emotive-cognitive approach does not restrict itself to mental processes.  We go beyond what the client is ‘telling themselves’, or ‘signalling themselves’; or what went wrong in their family of origin. We also include how well they manage their body-brain-mind in terms of diet, exercise, sleep, and emotional self-management (including self-talk, or inner dialogue). And we propose that it is better for counsellors and therapists to operate in a primarily right-brain modality, and to use the left-brain, cognitive processes, secondarily.

The most important, and novel, chapters in this book are as follows:

Chapter 4, which summarizes our research on the impact of diet/nutrition and physical exercise on mental health and emotional well-being.

Chapter 5, which reviews the science of sleep hygiene, plus common sense insights, and presents a range of lifestyle changes to promote healthy sleep, and thus to improve mental and emotional well-being.

Chapter 9, which explains how to incorporate the learning from chapters 4 and 5 into any system of talk therapy or counselling.

There is also a chapter (8) on counselling individuals using our Emotive-Cognitive approach, in which there is a section (8.3(b)) on using the Holistic SOR model to explore many aspects of the lifestyle of the client.

For more information, please click the following link: Lifestyle Counselling book.***

~~~

How to Write A New Life for Yourself:

Narrative therapy and the writing solution

Writing Theapy book cover

By Dr Jim Byrne, with Renata Taylor-Byrne

Published by the Institute for E-CENT Publications

Available as a paperback at Amazon outlets.***

~~~

In this book, we set out to show you how you can quickly and easily process your current psychological problems, and improve your emotional intelligence, by writing about your current and historic difficulties.  (Chapter 8 contains a detailed introduction to the subject of how to understand and manage your emotions).

This approach to writing about your emotional difficulties in order to resolve them has a long and noble tradition.  Many nineteenth century poets were seeking to heal broken hearts or resolve personal dissatisfactions by the use of their poetry writing activities; and many novels are clearly forms of catharsis (or release of pent up emotions) by the author.

But not all writing is equally helpful, therapeutically speaking.  If the writing is too negative; or too pessimistic; or simply makes the reader feel raw and vulnerable, then it is not going to have a positive effect.  Later we will show you how to tackle therapeutic writing, (within the two main disciplines of writing therapy – [the scientific and the humanistic]), in order to make it maximally effective.

For more information, please click the following link: Write a New Life for Yourself.***

~~~

How to control your anger, anxiety and depression,

Using nutrition and physical exercise

Front cover design 4

By Renata Taylor-Byrne and Jim Byrne

Published by the Institute for E-CENT Publications.

Available at Amazon outlets.***

1. Introduction

What we eat has a very powerful effect on our bodies and minds. And knowing and understanding how our body-mind reacts to the substances we feed ourselves is a crucial part of self-care.

For instance: depression can be caused by psychological reactions to losses and failures.  But it can also be caused by certain kinds of body-brain chemistry problems, some of which can begin in the guts, and be related to bad diet, and lack of physical exercise.  For example:

“If you are depressed while you suffer from regular yeast infections (like Candida Albicans), or athlete’s foot, or have taken antibiotics recently, there is a connection. Our brains are inextricably tied to our gastrointestinal tract and our mental well-being is dependent on healthy intestines. Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and a host of other mental illnesses from autism to ADHD can be caused by an imbalance of gut microbes like fungi, and ‘bad’ bacteria”.  (Source: Michael Edwards (2014))[i].

And when we take antibiotics, we kill off all of our friendly bacteria, and often what grows back first is the unfriendly stuff, like Candida Albicans, which can then cause depression, anxiety and other symptoms, as listed above.

Also, we can really benefit from knowing some of the latest ideas about where – (in our diets) – our depression, anxiety and anger can originate from; as provided by specialists who have devoted their lives to years of investigation into the workings of the human body and mind (or body-mind).

[i] Edwards, M. (2014) ‘The candida depression connection – How yeast leads to depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental disorders’. Available online at:                https://www.naturalnews.com/047184_ candida_ depression_gut_microbes.html#

For more information, please click the following link: Diet, exercise and mental health.***

~~~

Top secrets for

Building a Successful Relationship: 

Volume 1 – A blueprint and toolbox for couples and counsellors: C101

By Dr Jim Byrne

With Renata Taylor-Byrne BSc (Hons) Psychol 1543762369 (1905x1383)

The full paperback cover, by Charles Saul

~~~

On this web site, you will find enough information about our new book on couple relationships to inform your decision about buying it.  We have posted the full Preface; plus the full set of (revised) Contents pages; plus a brief extract from each of the main chapters (1-13).

Pre-publication review

“I have recently finished reading Dr Jim Byrne’s immensely useful book (about love and relationship skills).  This book is full of cutting edge thinking and priceless wisdom about couple relationships; which inspires us to believe that we can undoubtedly shape and improve our most important relationships.  The approach is comprehensive (despite being Volume 1 of 3), covering as it does: the nature of love and relationships; common myths about love and relationships (which tend to lead young people astray); some illuminating case studies of couple relationships that have gone wrong; and very helpful chapters on communication skills, conflict styles, and assertive approaches to relationship; plus a very interesting introduction to the theory that our marriage partnership is shaped, for better or worse, in our family of origin. I particularly liked the chapters on how to manage boundaries in relationships; and how to change your relationship habits. I can highly recommend this ‘must read’ book to couples and counsellors alike”.

Dr Nazir Hussain

Positive Psychology and Integrative Counselling Services, Whitby, Ontario, Canada.

September 2018

~~~

Here’s a quick preview of part of the contents of Chapter 1:

This book has been designed to be helpful to two main audiences:

1. Anybody who is curious about how to build and maintain a happy, successful couple relationship, like a marriage or civil partnership (civil agreement), or simple cohabitation; and:

2. Any professional who works with individuals and couples who show up with problems of marital or couple conflict, breakdowns of communication, or unhappiness with the couple bond.

For more information about this book, please go to Top Secrets for Building a Successful Relationship.***

~~~

Recent publications

Facing and Defeating your Emotional Dragons:

How to process old traumas, and eliminate undigested pain from your past experience

~~~

Holistic Counselling in Practice:

An introduction to the theory and practice of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied-Narrative Therapy

~~~

Daniel O’Beeve’s Amazing Journey: From traumatic origins to transcendent love

The memoir of Daniel O’Beeve: a strong-willed seeker after personal liberation: 1945-1985

~~~

Or take a look at my page about my top eight books, here: Books about E-CENT Counselling and related topics.***

~~~

Introduction to first draft of this blog post

Cover444It is now more than three months since my previous blog post was published.  The delay was down to how busy I’ve been, largely because of writing my latest book, which is now available at Amazon: Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes: The case against Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.***

My main role in life, as a doctor of counselling, is to see individual clients who have ‘problems of daily living’ which they cannot resolve on their own.  I help people with problems of anxiety, depression, anger, couple conflict, attachment problems, and other relationship problems.  Dr Jim’s Counselling Division.***

drjim-counsellor1However, I also write books, blogs and web pages; and articles or papers on counselling-related topics.  And I help individuals, from time to time, who are struggling with their creative or technical writing projects.  Sometimes I help individual writers to stay motivated, or to process their repeated rejection by an unreceptive and uncaring world.

~~~

The frustrations of writing

It is far from easy being a creative writer.  Frustrations abound, from conception of a new and useful writing project; doing the research; writing early drafts; then polishing, editing and publishing; and then trying to sell the end product in a world which is awash with information-overload.

~~~

In my book on REBT, I wrote about that period like this:

“As early as August 2003 (and probably earlier), I was writing about the fact that stress was a multi-causal problem.  That idea contradicts the ABC theory, which asserts that all emotional distress (including the common manifestations of stress: which include anger, anxiety and depression) are caused exclusively by the client’s Beliefs (B’s).  Here is an example of my writing from August 2003:

“I have developed a stress management programme consisting of fifteen strategies which help you to work on your body, your emotions, your thinking, and your stress management skills. This programme allows you to develop a stress-free life.

8-physical-symptoms-of-stress

“You may also be affected by many life-change stressors, e.g. Moving house; death of your spouse or other loved one; divorce; marriage; redundancy; bullying at work; promotion; demotion; change of lifestyle; etc.

“Your stress level also depends upon such factors as your diet, exercise, what you tell yourself about your life pressures, and so on. (What you tell yourself about your pressures is called your “self-talk”).

“And a lot depends upon your sense of control. Can you control your workload, your work environment, and/or your social life? Are you confident and assertive enough to at least try to control your workload, your work environment, and/or your social life? Are you wise enough to learn how to stoically accept those things which you clearly cannot control? The more control you have, the less stress you feel, according to the Whitehall Studies, conducted by Michael Marmot, beginning in 1984.” (Original source in footnotes)[1].

However, the frustration was this: Although I had expertise about managing stress; and although I had packaged 15 different strategies for getting your stress under control, very few people bought my book!

And today, I believe, most people do not understand stress: How it destroys their happiness, damages their physical health, and causes all kinds of emotional problems.

Tough stuff! This is the lot of the creative writer.  The world most often seems to not be ready for our insights!

~~~

People love simplicity and side-tracks

While my stress book was not selling to any reasonable degree, the simple books about the ABC model of REBT, produced by Dr Albert Ellis, were selling much better.  Those books presented an exaggerated claim that they could help the reader to quickly and relatively effortlessly get rid of any problem, simply by changing their beliefs about the problems they encountered.

My REBT book demonstrates that there was never any solid evidence that this claim is true.  It also demonstrates that, in the process, the REBT/CBT model blames the client for their own upsets, thus excusing the harshness of current government policy in the US and the UK, where the rich are enriched and the poor are squashed!  That squashing process hurts, and causes emotional distress and physical health problems.

Here is the evidence that it is not the individual’s beliefs, but the social environment that has the most impact on mental health and emotional well-being:

While psychotherapists like Albert Ellis tended to emphasize the role of the counselling client’s beliefs in the causation of anger, anxiety, depression, and so on, Oliver James, and his concept of ‘affluenza’, tends to emphasize living in a materialistic environment. As Dr James writes: “Nearly ten years ago, in my book Britain on the Couch, I pointed out that a twenty-five-year-old American is (depending on which studies you believe) between three and ten times more likely to be suffering depression today than in 1950. … In the case of British people, nearly one-quarter suffered from emotional distress … in the past twelve months, and there is strong evidence that a further one-quarter of us are on the verge thereof.  … (M)uch of this increase in angst occurred after the 1970s and in English-speaking nations”.  People’s beliefs have not changed so much over that time.  This is evidence of the social-economic impact of the post-Thatcher/Reagan neo-liberal economic policies!

Oliver James (2007) Affluenza: How to be successful and stay sane.  Page xvi-xvii. (63).

~~~

Conclusion

If you are a creative writer, and you want to write your own autobiography, or autobiographical novel, or you need support with any aspect of your creative writing process, then I can help you.

Coaching, counselling and therapy for writers.***

Or you could take a look at my current books in print.***

Or take a look at my page about my top eight books, here: Books about E-CENT Counselling and related topics.***

~~~

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

 

Jim

 

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Telephone: 01422 843 629

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

~~~

Love and acceptance: A counsellor’s reflections – Part 2

Blog Post No.88 

Posted on Tuesday 5th July 2016 – (Previously posted on Monday 9th June 2014)

Copyright © Dr Jim Byrne

The Counselling Blog – Part 2: You (morally) should not accept yourself unconditionally; but you (morally) must love yourself!

by Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Introduction

DrJim12.jpgOne of the main subjects upon which I write is the theory and practice of counselling and psychotherapy.  I try to explore models of mind, and approaches to counselling which are likely to be most helpful for clients.

Another of the subjects I have written extensively upon is split:

(a) What is wrong with certain aspects of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy; and:

(b) The essential elements of Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy, which is my transcendence of Rational Therapy, by integrating REBT/CBT, Narrative theory, Attachment theory, Transactional Analysis, Moral philosophy, and various other philosophical and psychological components.

Arguments about acceptance and love

In Blog No.87, on 17th May 2014, I made the following statement:

In the past, I have written a good deal on the subject of the importance of morality in counselling and therapy.  See:

Byrne, J. (2011-2013) CENT Paper No.25: The Innate Good and Bad Aspects of all Human Beings (the Good and Bad Wolf states).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT Publications.  Available online: E-CENT articles and papers

LinkedIn-Logo.jpegI was shocked to read one post on LinkedIn, some weeks ago, in which a counsellor argued that, although he was obliged to act ethically within counselling sessions, he was free to act immorally outside of counselling sessions.

The reason I find this shocking is that we social animals depend upon widespread agreement about the standards of civilization, or moral behaviour, to which we will adhere with each other.  The Golden Rule, which has been around since ancient China at the very least, states that I must not treat you in ways that would be objectionable to me if you reciprocated.  Or, I must not harm you, because it would not be good to be harmed by you, and I logically must not be inconsistent in demanding that you not harm me, but at the same time be willing to harm you (or your interests).

I have written detailed critiques of the views of Dr Carl Rogers and Dr Albert Ellis, on the subject of morality. See:

Byrne, J. (2010) Fairness, Justice and Morality Issues in REBT and CENT. CENT Paper No.2(b).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT. Available online:E-CENT articles and papers.

A_Wounded_Psychother_Cover_for_Kindle.jpgAnd one of the ways in which Albert Ellis’s amorality took shape in the philosophy of counselling and psychotherapy was in his development – following Carl Rogers’ model – of Unconditional Self-Acceptance, and Unconditional Acceptance of Others (People).  If we advocate unconditional acceptance of others, and we mean it literally, we cannot object no matter how badly they mistreat us.  This ideology could threaten not just our comfort, dignity and wellbeing, but our very survival – and hence it cannot be accommodated within a real, living community: (as opposed to surviving inside the scattered brains of Rogers and Ellis!).  And again, I have written extensive critiques of Rogers and Ellis on the topic of Acceptance and Regard:

Byrne, J. (2010) Self-acceptance and other-acceptance in relation to competence and morality. CENT Paper No.2(c).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT.  Available online: E-CENT articles and papers.”

 ~~~

In Blog Post No.67, I tried to illustrate how I love my clients, warmly and caringly, but that I do not “accept them UNCONDITIONALLY”.  I have my conditions.  I accept them so long as they are committed to being Good People – Moral People.  I do not engage in the madness of Albert Ellis who famously said: “Even if you go out and kill a few people – how could that make YOU bad?”.  Well I have shown how that would make you, or me, or anybody else bad, in my paper on going beyond REBT:

Byrne, J. (2009) Beyond REBT: The case for moving on.  CENT Paper No.1(b).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT.  Available online: E-CENT articles and papers

In that paper I used a thought-experiment involving an occasionally murderous bank manager, and whether or not we would tolerate him killing one customer out of every ten!  Would we ‘unconditionally’ accept him?  Would we consider he was a ‘bad person’ if he killed ‘only’ 10% of his customers (and thus met Albert Ellis’s criterion of not “always and only being bad”)?

~~~

Critical-thinking-2.jpgWhen I posted a link to Blog Post No.87, on a LinkedIn Discussion Group, I got some feedback, which I want to acknowledge and deal with in this blog post:

Robin Rambally wrote:

“One cannot love without accepting oneself and if you do not accept yourself then it will be said ‘you have identity issues’. If I do not accept myself how can I encourage someone to be pleased with oneself? It will be morally wrong not to accept/ love oneself and try to help others to be accepting”.

This post serves as an illustration of a common problem – where the reader misses the point, because they dump some of my ‘qualifying’ words or phrases.  In this case, Robin dumps the word ‘unconditional’ from the phrase ‘unconditional acceptance’.

I have mounted a detailed critique of the concept of ‘unconditional acceptance’ of self and others; and Robin replies by ignoring the fact that I am talking about ‘unconditional’ acceptance.

I accept myself one-conditionally – and the one condition is that I work at being a moral person; or growing my Good Wolf side – my moral side.

I also accept you (other people) one-conditionally – and the one condition upon which I accept you is that you show by your words and deeds that you are committed to being moral beings; to growing your Good Wolf side, and shrinking your Bad Wolf side.

This is all discussed in detail in:

Byrne, J. (2010) Self-acceptance and other-acceptance in relation to competence and morality. CENT Paper No.2(c).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT.  Available online: E-CENT articles and papers

~~~

Ana Baptista de Oliveira then made this comment:

“Well, this goes to the concept of person and ours acts. Are we only our acts… we tend to explain ourselves in a much more dispositional way. ‘I did this, wrongly, because of (something happened)’. I believe we truly love ourselves when we act in such a way we can, indeed, accept ourselves :)”

Again, Ana does not deal with the *qualifier*, UNCONDITIONAL.

To accept somebody UNCONDITIONALLY, means you accept them with no reservations whatsoever – whether they have come to rob you, kill you, rape your relatives, take your home; whatever!  That is what *Unconditional* means – and Ana and Robin just sidestep this ugly reality!

The second point about Ana’s post is this: She presents the Ellis’ creation: The distinction between a person and their acts or behaviours:

“…Are we only our acts” (she asks)… “…we tend to explain ourselves in a much more dispositional way. ‘I did this, wrongly, because of (something happened)’.”

We don’t have to be “only our acts” for our acts to define us.  Somewhere in the writings of Lao Tzu you will find the idea that our thoughts become our acts; our acts become our habits; and our habits become our character.  In this way our acts and our character are connected.  We cannot say – “I’m OK, even though I have maliciously killed a few people whose money I needed!”

But Albert Ellis has spread this madness – that we can accept ourselves unconditionally, no matter how immorally we behave; and he got it from Carl Rogers, explicitly or implicitly, as I show in one of my papers where Barry Stevens, a Rogers clone, rails against all forms of external law enforcement or moral rule making, because she madly believes we have an innate moral compass which needs no shaping by our external environment.  Madness of the first water, which fails to understand how “an individual” comes into existence.  See my paper on the social shaping of the ego:

Byrne, J. (2009) The ‘Individual’ and its Social Relationships – The CENT Perspective.  CENT Paper No.9.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT.  Available online:E-CENT articles and papers.

~~~

Next, Fey Case-Leng, a trainee psychotherapist, takes me to task:

“If you truly unconditionally accept yourself as a person, then why would you have a need or desire to act in ways which could harm other people or their interests? What would your motivation be? As far as I can tell, people harm others out of their fear of being vulnerable. If you unconditionally accept yourself, then you will accept your vulnerability and the fear that comes with it. I guess, at this point, we could look at whether it is necessarily immoral to harm another person. For instance, what if you were so vulnerable that your life was at risk? That, however, would be a complicated discussion with many grey areas and would involve exploring the definition of harm.

“Of course, even if you unconditionally accept yourself (including your vulnerabilities), you may still harm someone by mistake. In such a case, I don’t think shame would be appropriate; only guilt. Personally, I don’t think that feeling guilt and having unconditional self-acceptance are mutually exclusive.”

There are essentially three points here, but I will only deal with the first one, as the second and third are academic points or pedantic nit picking:

Point 1: “If you truly unconditionally accept yourself as a person, then why would you have a need or desire to act in ways which could harm other people or their interests? What would your motivation be? As far as I can tell, people harm others out of their fear of being vulnerable. If you unconditionally accept yourself, then you will accept your vulnerability and the fear that comes with it.”

The first bit of this statement seems to me to be a piece of rhetoric:

“If you truly unconditionally accept yourself as a person, then

why would you have a need or desire to act in ways which could harm other people or their interests?

What would your motivation be?”

The problem with rhetoric is that it leaves the receiver in a kind of no-man’s-land, where they do not know how to respond.  Should they try to answer the question(s)?  Or should they try to show that it is really a statement (or statements)?

So this is how I am going to respond:

Dear Frey, Please clarify what you are saying here.

Are you saying that it is impossible for an evil person to unconditionally accept themselves, knowing themselves to be the perpetrator of evil acts?

(This is not a piece of rhetoric on my part.  I sincerely believe that it is perfectly possible for an evil person – a person who has grown their Bad Wolf to evil proportions – to fully and completely accept themselves unconditionally!)

Are you saying that you cannot think of a single motive which might cause a person, in the habit of unconditionally accepting themselves, to commit an evil act?

(Again, this is not a piece of rhetoric on my part, as I sincerely believe that a person’s accepting of themselves unconditionally cannot guarantee that they will not be motivated to act in an evil way – and a motive here could be personal gain, or revenge, for examples).

Please clarify your argument:  What are your premises, and what conclusions do you think flow logically from your premises?

~~~

PS: I love my clients, which – using M. Scot Peck’s definition – means: I extend myself in their service.

PPS: I have also been influenced by Dr John Bowlby to be sensitive and caring and responsive towards my clients.

PPPS: It would be “legs on a snake” to insist that I should go further and do all of that UNCONDITIONALLY!  REGARDLESS OF HOW WELL OR HOW BADLY THEY BEHAVE TOWARDS ME, THEMSELVES AND/OR THE WORLD!

~~~

Next week, I will continue with a second post by Robin Rambally.

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

https://abc-counselling.org

jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

Telephone:

01422 843 629 (from inside the UK)

44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK)

~~~

 

Counsellor’s diary: Distinguishing Realistic Love from Unrealistic forms of Acceptance…

Blog Post No.88 

Posted 2nd July 2016: (Originally posted on Thursday 22nd May 2014)

Copyright © Dr Jim Byrne

Counsellor’s diary: Distinguishing Realistic Love from Unrealistic forms of Acceptance…

~~~

Introduction

LinkedIn-Logo.jpegCounsellors and therapists must have some ideas regarding how to relate to their clients.  For example, do they respond from realistic forms of love; or from unrealistic forms of unconditional acceptance?

I have recently posted a link to blog post No.87 (below) on LinkedIn.  This produced a dozen critical responses, to which I must respond.  However, it is complicated, and time-consuming, so I am going to have to respond in at least two phases; or possibly three.  Here is the first one:

~~~

~~~

Temporary Response to contributors on the subject of Acceptance and Love:

Dr-Jims-office.jpgI awoke this morning thinking about the LinkedIn response to my post about ‘Conditional Love’ versus ‘Unconditional Acceptance’.

I want to do a good job of thinking about and responding to those individuals who took the time to post their view. This will take time to develop, and given my other commitments, I will probably have to develop it in stages.

In particular, I want to look at those statements which:

  1. Distinguish between ‘a person’, on the one hand, and ‘their behaviour’, on the other; and:
  2. Which talk about the ‘unconditional love’ of a mother for her children.

Albert_Ellis-7.jpgAnd there will be other points that also require a response.

In my full response, when I have had time to develop it, I will use, among other things, the following illustrations of my position:

  1. I originally (unthinkingly) subscribed to the approach of distinguishing between a person and their behaviour.
  2. I was introduced to this idea through studying the books and audio programs of Dr Albert Ellis, the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy.
  3. My rejection of this position came out of the split in the Albert Ellis Institute in the period 2004-2007.
  4. When Albert Ellis – who developed the concept of Unconditional Self Acceptance and Unconditional Other Acceptance (meaning unconditional acceptance of other individuals) – was banned from practicing REBT at his own Institute, and subsequently removed from the board of his own Institute, he was unable to sustain his unconditional acceptance of his adversaries.  He famously said, about the titular leader of his opponents (Dr Michael Broder): “I want him dead, dead, dead!”  This is not the stuff of Unconditional Acceptance!  This is Conditional Acceptance!
  5. I was connected to Ellis’s inner circle at that time, and involved in his defence.  As a result, I got the insight that, right in the heart of his inner circle, the label used to describe his opponents was “The Bast***s”.  The inner circle amounted to a handful of individuals who, collectively, had about 100 years’ experience of advocating and teaching Unconditional Acceptance of Others! J (According to the theory of Unconditional Acceptance in REBT, that inner circle should have described Ellis’s opponents as “The group of individuals who often seem to act in Bast***ly Ways!” J
  6. Of course Ellis tried to keep up his official ideology of Unconditional Acceptance – by saying, about his adversaries: “They should be unfair, because that is their chief talent!”  But at the same time he wanted the Chief “Bast***” Dead!  And he wanted serious action taken against them all.
  7. Ellis asked me to make an ethics complaint to the American Psychological Association (APA) regarding what he saw of unethical behaviour by one of his colleagues (Doctor-X).  Doctor-X had written one of the reports which justified removing Ellis from office.  I read a copy of that report, identified a number of problems with the logic and the professional standard of the report, and, before sending it to APA, I ran it by Doctor-X – which is an APA requirement.  Now remember: Doctor-X has 40 years’ experience of using REBT; and 30+ years of teaching it.  And so he has thousands of hour’s experience of teaching Unconditional Acceptance of Self and Others.  So what would you expect him to do when he saw my ethics complaint?  He should have said: “Jim, your behaviour is very bad (for the following reasons), but you’re okay as a person”.  That’s what the theory says, and that is what he should have done.  But what did he actually do?  He denounced me as “a sick sadistic bast***”.
  8. It seems to me, on the basis of the above descriptions, that it is reasonable for me to conclude that people who declare that they hold to the view that we should all Unconditionally Accept each other are mouthing platitudes! And that the only way we can tell if they ‘really mean it’ is to put them to the test.  If Albert Ellis, the creator of this idea, cannot walk his own talk; and if one of his chief acolytes cannot walk his talk – then what is the value of these declarations?  Very little, actually!  At deep emotional levels, neither Ellis nor Doctor-X were capable, in practice of delivering Complete, Unconditional Acceptance!
  9. Throughout the conflict at the Albert Ellis Institute, in the period 2004-2007, both sides accused the other of immoral behaviour.  But neither side could support their claims, because both sides had their hands tied in a significant regard.  They had all agreed (WE had all agreed!) never to use these words: SHOULD; OUGHT; MUST, HAVE TO, GOT TO, NEED TO!  And it proved impossible to mount a moral argument without the use of these words.  (Behind the scenes, Ellis mounted a couple of court cases, which necessarily involved saying: “they have unfairly dismissed me, which they should not have done!” – but nobody noticed that! J)  We (on both sides) could refer to actions by our opponents which we DID NOT LIKE, and which we thought would ‘sound unsavoury’ to our readers.  But that is not a powerful moral argument.  I eventually realized that we have to be able to distinguish between MORAL SHOULDS, PREFERENTIAL SHOULDS, and ABSOLUTE SHOULDS, at the very least.  And we have to hold on to our moral should.

I have written extensively about these issues in the following papers:

Byrne, J. (2010) Self-acceptance and other-acceptance in relation to competence and morality. CENT Paper No.2(c).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT.  Available online: E-CENT Articles and Papers

Byrne, J. (2010) Fairness, Justice and Morality Issues in REBT and CENT CENT Paper No.2(b).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT. Available online:E-CENT Articles and Papers

Byrne, J. (2009) Beyond REBT: The case for moving on.  CENT Paper No.1(b).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT.  Available online: E-CENT Articles and Papers

~~~

  1. It seems to me that most people who communicate via group discussions on LinkedIn and elsewhere in the world of Social Media are very busy. People seem to post sound-bites, and respond to sound-bites.  But I am not a sound-bite manager.  I believe it is important to think clearly on paper, in elaborated arguments and/or descriptions, and it is important that, in dealing with your conclusions, I take your arguments into account (where ‘you’ means anybody who interacts with me on the internet).  If all I do is to present you with my conclusions, in response to reading your conclusions, then no significant communication will take place; and there will be no substantial progress made in the development of ideas.  We must look at each other’s detailed arguments, otherwise we are not able to understand where the conclusions came from.
  2. I have printed off all the comments which were made in response to my posting about Conditional Love versus Unconditional Acceptance (at LinkedIn), and I will make the time to critically analyse them, and I will respond in due course.  I regret that there has to be this inevitable delay.

~~~

More later.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Email Dr Jim Byrne

Telephone:

01422 843 629 (from inside the UK)

44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK)

~~~

Qualified (but generous) acceptance of yourself…

Blog Post No.87 

Reposted on 4th June 2016 (Originally posted on Saturday 17th May 2014)

Copyright © Dr Jim Byrne

You (morally) should not accept yourself unconditionally; but you (morally) must love yourself!

Introduction

Dr-Jims-office.jpgIn the past, I have written a good deal on the subject of the importance of morality in counselling and therapy.  See:

Byrne, J. (2011-2013) E-CENT Paper No.25: The Innate Good and Bad Aspects of all Human Beings (the Good and Bad Wolf states).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT Publications.  Available online: http://www.abc-counselling.com/id312.html

I was shocked to read one post on Linkedin, some weeks ago, in which a counsellor argued that, although he was obliged to act ethically within counselling sessions, he was free to act immorally outside of counselling sessions.

The reason I find this shocking is that we social animals depend upon widespread agreement about the standards of civilization, or moral behaviour, to which we will adhere with each other.  The Golden Rule, which has been around since ancient China at the very least, states that I must not treat you in ways that would be objectionable to me if you reciprocated.  Or, I must not harm you, because it would not be good to be harmed by you, and I logically must not be inconsistent in demanding that you not harm me, but at the same time be willing to harm you (or your interests).

I have written detailed critiques of the views of Dr Carl Rogers and Dr Albert Ellis, on the subject of morality. See:

Byrne, J. (2010) Fairness, Justice and Morality Issues in REBT and E-CENT. E-CENT Paper No.2(b).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT. Available online: http://www.abc-counselling.com/id203.html.

Carl-Rogers-1.jpgAnd one of the ways in which Albert Ellis’s amorality took shape in his philosophy of counselling and psychotherapy was in his development – following Carl Rogers’ model – of Unconditional Self-Acceptance, and Unconditional Acceptance of Others (People).  If we advocate unconditional acceptance of others, and we mean it literally, we cannot object no matter how badly they mistreat us.  This ideology could threaten not just our comfort, dignity and wellbeing, but our very survival – and hence it cannot be accommodated within a real, living community: (as opposed to surviving inside the scattered brains of Rogers and Ellis!).  And again, I have written extensive critiques of Rogers and Ellis on the topic of Acceptance and Regard:

Byrne, J. (2010) Self-acceptance and other-acceptance in relation to competence and morality. E-CENT Paper No.2(c).  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT.  Available online: http://www.abc-counselling.com/id206.html.

Over the time that has elapsed since the writing of those three papers, above, I have continued to develop my thinking, as and when opportunities have arisen.

About ten days ago, I had a chance to take the next step in the development of these ideas – and the revolution I went through was seeing that…

Well let me tell the story as it evolved:

Al-Ellis-REBT-therapist2.jpgAbout two weeks ago, I got an urgent phone call from a man in South Wales.  He wanted to come up and talk to me about anger management issues.  He had seen my video on anger***, and read some of my web pages.

Anyway, about ten days ago he arrived for his appointment.  I happened to be outside, saying goodbye to the outgoing client, when he drove up in a big white car.  He was driving, and a woman of his own age – mid forties – was sitting in the passenger seat.

I could not understand why he had brought his wife with him.  Maybe I’d misunderstood.  Perhaps they wanted couples therapy.  As it happened, he quickly explained that this was his sister, and she would wait in the car for the duration of our counselling session.

Naturally, ‘Jack’ (not his real name) had come to discuss some very sensitive issues with me – to do with anger at home and at work – conflict with his wife and his teenage sons.  His teenage daughter had left home because of all the aggression, verbal abuse, and so on.

And all of this is confidential between me and him – so I will not be going into detail, and even Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes could not identify the real ‘Jack’ from the description given here.

I will not go into any detail about the session, save to summarize it like this: Jack had to admit lots of ‘sins’ of violence and aggression which he had committed over a period of years.  And now he was awake to how bad he was.

The only specific point that I will make is that his father had been violent towards Jack, until Jack was seventeen years old; when Jack was strong enough to defeat him.  He thus learned that ‘might is right’ from his father.  Recently he has tried to patch up his relationship with his father.  He reached out in as loving a way as he could – and his father could not reciprocate.  His father’s response, in his account, seemed to be quite autistic.

I did not try to get Jack to ‘unconditionally accept himself’, nor to ‘unconditionally accept’ his father.  Domestic violence most often involves criminal acts, and hugely immoral acts, which scar their victims – normally the weak and vulnerable members of the family.

Two-wolves.jpgI taught Jack the errors of his way: of assuming that ‘might is right’, which is the lesson he had learned from his own violent father.

I taught him the E-CENT theory of the Good Wolf and Bad Wolf: (See E-CENT Paper No.25 above).

I taught him the Golden Rule.

I got a commitment from him that he will work hard to grow his Good Wolf, and to shrink his Bad Wolf.  (Specifically, to work hard to live from the virtues of love, charity, compassion, patience, and so on.  And to avoid the vices of anger, rage, hostility, selfishness, impatience, verbal and physical violence, and so on).

I taught him to avoid getting drawn into Drama Triangles – as an aggressive Rescuer – and to create more space in the network of conflicted relationships in his home.

I taught him not to kick over the beehive, if he wants to collect honey!

Time flew, and soon he was standing by the door about to leave.  At that point he turned to me and said: “I brought my sister with me because I thought I’d be in bits at the end of the session.  I thought I’d need her moral support to get home”.

I looked quizzically at him.

“I thought you’d have ripped me to pieces because of all the bad things I’ve done to my family”, he said.

I was nonplussed.

“My job is to love you”, I said; “as your father should have loved you.  I wish he’d been able to tell you he loved you when you apologized for defeating him all those years ago, when you were a teenager”.

My eyes filled with tears of grief.  He turned and left the building.

I closed the door and the grief burst from me in big, loud sobs.  I was crying for all the apparently autistic fathers who cannot reach out to their sons in love.  I was crying for all the sons who cannot find it in themselves to love their fathers.  I was crying for the little boy (me) who used to stand by the gate every evening as my father came home, got off his bicycle, and walked past me as if I were a lamp post or a gate post which he had seen so often that it was now unremarkable.

For all I know, deep in my non-conscious mind, I may also have been crying for all those victims of domestic violence who will go on to offend against others, generation, after generation, after generation.

And that was the moment when I connected up the dots.  Carl Rogers and Albert Ellis had to import the concepts of ‘Acceptance’ and ‘Regard’ into their philosophies of counselling and therapy, because neither of them knew how to love.

See in particular my book on the childhood of Albert Ellis.***

I have learned, over a long period of time – and through much therapeutic ‘repair work’ – how to love.  How to love myself; my family members; and my clients.  The E-CENT concept of one-conditional acceptance really means: “I love myself, and I love you, on one condition.  And that condition is that you and I are committed to being good persons.  And being a good person means growing your Good Side (or Good Wolf side) and shrinking your Bad Side (or Bad Wolf side).

~~~

Watergate-cafe-Hebden-Bridge.jpgAfter about three or four minutes of crying, I remembered that there was a big baked potato with baked beans and a large Americano with cold milk waiting for me at Watergate Café.  I smiled.  Dried my eyes.  Laughed out loud, and headed off into sunny Hebden Bridge.

More later…

Jim

Jims-counselling-div2Dr Jim Byrne

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

https://abc-counselling.org

jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

Telephone:

01422 843 629 (from inside the UK)

44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK)

~~~

Dr Jim’s reposted blog from December 2013

Some of the blogs I posted in the past have become unavailable, because of moving from one web address to another.  And I think some of my earlier blogs are too good to throw away.  So here is one from December 2013, on Emotional literacy:

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Achieving emotional literacy, by Dr Claude Steiner…

New Year’s Eve

The opening pages of Achieving Emotional Literacy

By Jim Byrne, 31st December 2013

claude-steiner.jpgI could not wait, so I decided to nibble at the beginnings of Dr Claude Steiner’s book (on emotional literacy), so I don’t keep you waiting too long…

In the introduction to this book, Claude Steiner describes how he was raised as a traditional European male in Mexico City – ignoring his own emotions and the emotions of the people in his life.  He then trained as a scientist, which took him further from his emotional nature.  He goes on to ask: “What was this state of deep emotional literacy like?  Looking back, I see myself as someone who had infatuations but no real attachments, who had little respect, regret, or guilt when it came to the way I treated others.  I never felt sustained joy, and I never remembered any of my dreams.  I never cried.  Although I have a respectable IQ, when I look back at myself I see an emotional imbecile, a young man with a very low EQ (or emotional quotient)”.  (Pages 1-2).

I found this statement most interesting, because it seemed to me to echo some of the things I have learned about the early life of Dr Albert Ellis, the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), who – once upon a time – had a profound effect upon my philosophy of life, (but not any more!)  Ellis did not cry; did not admit his tender emotions; did not have a deep attachment to anybody; and may have been somewhere on the Asperger spectrum – somewhat autistic.

Assessing and describing my own EQ

I could also modify that statement to describe my own EQ in the early decades of my life:

“…I see myself as someone who had unexpressed infatuations but no real attachments, who was very avoidant of others (like Albert Ellis); and full of fear and apprehension.  I never felt sustained joy, and I never remembered any of my dreams.  I never cried.  Although I have a respectable IQ, when I look back at myself I see an emotional imbecile, a young man with a very low EQ (or emotional quotient)”.

I should also add that I was rarely conscious of where I was, or what I was thinking or feeling.

(However, now, years later, as a result of a lot of self-development work, and some counselling and therapy, I have achieved a respectable level of EQ, and can regulate my own emotions very well! :-))

The journey towards higher EQ, or higher emotional literacy, is about three things: “…the ability to understand your emotions, the ability to listen to others and to empathize with their emotions, and the ability to express emotions productively”. (Page11).

Now assess yourself

Exercise 1: For the readers of this blog: Try to recall your own early life, say from age 12 to 32, and ask yourself: ‘How much of Claude Steiner’s self-assessment applies in my own case?’  Write down your answers.

Ask yourself: How far is this description from how I would like to be living now?  And what can I do to change?

~~~

Increasing your personal power

Some people seek to gain power by becoming financially successful, and rising through the ranks of large organizations.  However, this is not a particularly satisfying activity for most people.  Most people would however like to have good relationships and enjoyable work.  This, according to Steiner, would help us to feel a sense of personal power.

The price of poor emotional literacy is “the repeated experience of interpersonal failure (which) is a source of hopelessness and depression”. (Page 3).

Exercise 2: On a scale of 1-10, just how happy are you with the quality of your interpersonal relationships?

If some are good and some are bad, separate them out and rank each of them on a scale of 1-10, where 10 = ‘happy, mutually enjoyable communication’; and 1 = ‘distant, unhappy, uncooperative encounters’.

Are you willing to commit yourself to learning how to communicate more emotionally intelligently?  If so, this blog will help you, over the next few weeks.

~~~

That’s all for today.

Happy New Year!

Best wishes for a more personally powerful 2014!

Jim