Albert Ellis and REBT ten years later

Blog Post No. 156

21st July 2017 (Updated on 22nd April 2020)

Copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne, 2017

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: The tenth anniversary of the death of Albert Ellis…

~~~

Introduction

Ellis-video-imageAlbert Ellis, the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), which is sometimes called Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (RE&CBT), died on 24th July 2007.  So we are very close to the tenth anniversary.

Since that event, Renata and I have posted something on each anniversary about Albert Ellis and REBT.  Initially, those posts were very positive about the man and his theory of therapy.  But as time passed, and we found more and more problems with the man (from his autobiography, All Out!) and from our reflective analyses of his theoretical propositions, our posts became more and more distant, and more and more critical.

Books about Ellis and REBT

Wounded psychotherapistIn 2013, I published a book on the childhood of Albert Ellis, which was an analysis of the ways in which he was mistreated and virtually abandoned at times by his parents, and the effect of these early negative experiences on his psychological development.  Here are the basic details:

A Wounded Psychotherapist: Albert Ellis’s childhood and the strengths and limitations of REBT, by Dr Jim Byrne

A critical review of the childhood of Albert Ellis and the impact of his suffering on the shape of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

‘A Wounded psychotherapist’ is a critical enquiry by Dr Jim Byrne.  It is an analysis of both the childhood of Dr Albert Ellis (the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy [REBT]), and how some of those childhood experiences most likely gave rise to certain features of his later philosophy of psychotherapy.  If you have ever wondered what the roots of REBT might have been, then this is the book for you.  it explores the childhood difficulties of Albert Ellis, and links those difficulties forward to the ways in which REBT was eventually shaped.  It also identified the strengths and weaknesses of REBT, and proposes an agenda for reform of this radical system of psychotherapy. Available now from Amazon, in two formats:

***This book is currently out of print.  I do intend to rewrite it, when I get the time, and to re-issue it.  In the meantime, here is a relevant extract, for your information:

~~~

The aim of this book

“I’ve become a sort of accidental advocate for attachment parenting, which is a style of parenting that basically is the way mammals parent and the way people have parented for pretty much all of human history, except perhaps the last 200 years or so”.  Mayim Bialik

Jim and the Buddha, 2In this book I want to pursue a thesis of my own: That Dr Albert Ellis was a ‘wounded soldier’ – or psychologically injured person – from a very young age; and that he brought some of his psycho-logical wounds into the process of developing his system of therapy.  I want to explore his childhood for the roots of those wounds, and to show how they then track through to the development of his mature philosophy some years later.  In the process, I hope to rescue what is good about his philosophy from what is clearly untenable in a moral world – or in a society which necessarily must strive to maintain some kind of legal and moral system of rules of social behaviour, if it is to survive.

The main resource that I will use to produce this book is Albert Ellis’s autobiography – All Out! An autobiography, by Albert Ellis with Debbie Joffe-Ellis. New York: Prometheus Books – which was published in 2010.  In addition, I will use the Sage Publications’ biography of Albert Ellis, by Yankura and Dryden (1994)[i].  Plus two or three online sources of information about Albert Ellis’s childhood; and any other sources of general psychological or philosophical thinking – such as attachment theory, or health studies – which throws any light on the subject under review; which is: the impact of childhood neglect on Albert Ellis’s later theories of human behaviour and his principles of emotional self-management.

~~~

The problem of the status of autobiographical narratives

Of course, an autobiography is just that: a story by the author about the author.  In Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy (CENT)[ii], because we explicitly deal with our clients’ narratives and stories, we have to have an understanding of the ‘status’ of autobiographical narratives – meaning ‘the truth’ (or ‘ontological status’), or veracity or accuracy of self-narratives.  This is explored in CENT Paper No.5[iii]: and a six page extract from that paper is attached as Appendix B, below.  It turns out that human memory (or rather, recall) is much more fragile and imperfect than most people imagine.  It also involves reconstructing memories, rather than playing them back like videos or audio recordings.  Human memory is also not like a photograph album.  Here is a metaphor which is closer to the truth:

“If any metaphor is going to capture memory, then it is more like a compost heap in a constant state of re-organization”.  (Hood, 2011, page 59).

I will now present a couple of indicative extracts from Appendix B.  They are meant to help the reader to make a personal judge-ment about the reliability of Albert Ellis’s memories of his own childhood.

The first one is based upon a description, (from Eysenck and Keane, 2000)[iv], of audio recorded conversations between President Richard Nixon and John Dean, which are contrasted with Dean’s recollection (before he was confronted with the taped evidence!)

“Our autobiographical memories are sometimes less truthful than has been suggested so far.  Dean’s memory for the conversations with the President gave Dean too active and significant a role.  It is as if Dean remembered the conversations as he wished them to have been.” (Cf: Chancellor, 2007[v]). “Perhaps people have a self-schema (or organized body of knowledge about themselves) that influences how they perceive and remember personal information.  Someone as ambitious and egotistical as Dean might have focussed mainly on those aspects of conversations in which he played a dominant role, and this selective attention may then have affected his later recall. As Haberlandt (1999, p.226)[vi] argued, ‘The auto-biographical narrative…does preserve essential events as they were experienced, but it is not a factual report; rather, the account seems to make a certain point, to unify events, or to justify them’.”

This shows clearly that autobiographical memory is unreliable.  (Because it is unreliable, we, in CENT, have developed a multi-stranded process for conducting an analysis of autobiographical narratives).[vii]

I discovered this problem of the unreliability of autobiographical memory when I was conducting my own doctoral research, back in 2004 or 2005; when I was proposing to interview doctoral students about their own memories of learning the subject of ‘research ethics’. The problem here was this: if human memory is as fragile as suggested above, then how can I trust the word of anybody, including research participants?  What follows is an expression of my attempt to move forward:

“…the premise upon which I have returned to ask questions of some postgraduate students and one tutor (is this): that their accounts will preserve some essential events as they were experienced by them, but they will not be giving me a factual report, in the sense in which ‘factual’ is used in the natural sciences.  However, even in the natural sciences, facts are records of events which are no better and no worse than the person or device registering the event. (Source: Novak and Gowin, 1984[viii]).  And inevitably, scientific facts are ‘transformed’ by a process of imperfect human interpretation.”

In CENT Paper No.5 (Byrne, 2009e), I then go on to talk about the autobiographical stories and narratives of my counselling clients:

“And this is also how I will understand my own narrative in CENT Paper No.4; and the stories that my CENT clients present to me.  They are stories that conform to the felt recollections and meaning-making activities of individuals who, as humans, have imperfect, mood dependent, recon-stitutive memory systems (Bartlett, 1932[ix]).”

And all of the above applies to the mood-dependent, recons-titutive reconstructions of Dr Albert Ellis’s story of his own life.  (See further detail in Appendix B).

~~~

Did young Albert develop an insecure attachment to his parents?

“Albert Ellis … had a very distant emotional relationship with his parents, and described his mother as a self-centred woman who struggled with bipolar disorder. After (his) raising his younger brother and sister and dealing with many personal health issues, Ellis left his family to study at the City University of New York”.  Good Therapy website[x]

Long before his autobiography appeared, in 2010, Dr Ellis had revealed certain facts (or claims) about his childhood – certainly as early as 1991[xi].  From memory they included the following points: That he had been a sickly boy, frequently hospitalized with nephritis, sometimes for months at a time[xii]; That he had grappled with serious problems of shyness and social anxiety; That his mother and father neglected him – rarely visiting him during his hospital stays; That his mother (who was an egotistical, manic-depressive and severe woman of German Jewish origin) would often be away playing cards with her friends, or visiting her temple, when he got home from school with his two younger siblings; That she was so neglectful that he had to acquire an alarm clock himself, when he was about eight years old, which he used to get himself and his siblings up in the morning (while she lay in bed); That he fed them and got them ready, and took them to school; That his father worked away from home most of each week, seeing his children only at the weekends (and then only briefly!) – and divorced Ellis’s mother when young Albert was just twelve years of age (and entering puberty!); That young Albert enjoyed school so much more than home life that he wished school would open at the weekends; And so on.

(Please note the lack of mother-bashing in the list of problems above.  I am saying that Albert Ellis was neglected by his parents – his mother and his father, in roughly equal proportions.  I do not go along with any residual tendency of attachment theorists to over-emphasize the role of the mother.  The father is equally important to the emotional development of the children. [See Macrae, 2013, in the Reference list near the end of this book])[xiii].

How severe was the degree of childhood neglect that Little Albert Ellis experienced?  According to Yankura and Dryden (1994):

“…Albert and siblings were exposed to a degree of parental neglect that, in this day and age, might have prompted a phone call to Child Protective Services by some concerned school teacher or neighbour…” (Page 3)[xiv].

What I intend to do in this book is to review the first 162 pages of Dr Ellis’s autobiography, to try to put some flesh on these bare bones of his childhood. Part of my argument will be that Little Albert was so neglected by his parents that he developed avoidant attachments to them, and that this predisposed him to a lifetime of insecure, unsatisfactory relationships with significant others.  Because this is central to my argument, I must now present some contextual material on the subject of attachment theory.

[i] Yankura, J. and Dryden, W. (1994) Albert Ellis.  London: Sage Publications.

[ii] See my CENT Paper No.2(a), which describes the theory of CENT, in Byrne (2009/2013), in the Reference list, above.

[iii] Byrne, J. (2009e) The status of autobiographical narratives and stories.  CENT Paper No.5.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy (I-CENT).  Available online: http://www.abc-counselling.com/id167.html

[iv] Eysenck, M.W. and Keane, M.T. (2000) Cognitive Psychology: A student’s Handbook. Fourth edition.  East Sussex: Psychology Press.

[v] Chancellor, A. (2007) It’s a strangely human foible – we all rewrite history to make our roles in it more interesting.  The Guardian, Friday April 6th 2007.  Available online:       http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329770492-103390,00.html

[vi] Haberlandt, K. (1999) Human Memory: Exploration and application.  Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

[vii] Byrne, J. (2009f) How to analyze autobiographical narratives in Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy.  CENT Paper No.6.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT. Available online: http://www.abc-counselling.com/id173.html

[viii] Novak, J.D. and Gowin, B. (1984) Learning How to Learn.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[ix] Bartlett, F.C. (1932) Remembering. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[x] From: Good Therapy Org: Available online at: http://www.goodtherapy.org/famous-psychologists/albert-ellis.html

[xi] Ellis, A. (1991) My life in clinical psychology.  In C.E. Walker (ed): The History of Clinical Psychology in Autobiography, Vol.1.  Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

[xii] Ellis was hospitalized about eight times between the ages of five and seven years of age, once for about ten months!

[xiii] It seems to me that the reason early attachment theorists emphasized the role of the mother in establishing a secure base for the child was this: Capitalism promotes a ‘division of labour’ between men and women, making women responsible for reproduction and home life, and men for industrial and commercial work, business activities, etc.  But nature was not consulted about this deal; and children continue to need the loving attention of both of their parents, and are disadvantaged if they do not get it. (See Macrae, 2013, in the Reference list).

[xiv] Yankura, J. and Dryden, W. (1994) Albert Ellis.  London: Sage Publications.

~~~

honetpieHowever, in that book, I was still very soft on some of Ellis’s major errors, such as his false definition of ‘awfulizing’, and his mistaken assumption that, just because ‘demandingness’ is often a ‘sufficient condition’ for human disturbance, therefore it is also a ‘necessary condition’, which, the Buddha’s followers would argue, it is not.  Any significant degree of desiring that the present be different from how it is, could, in theory, cause significant levels of negative affect.

Also, when I wrote about the childhood of Ellis, I had not yet developed my understanding of him as an Extreme Stoic – that is to say, somebody who exaggerates the degree to which a human being can live their life as if they were a lump of wood!

This was corrected in my current critique of REBT, which is described below.

~~~

Tenth Anniversary of the Death of Albert Ellis:

On this anniversary, I have today posted some feedback from Dr Meredith Nisbet of my book on the childhood of Albert Ellis.  This is what she wrote:

Book Review – by Dr Meredith Nisbet:

“I learned so much about human nature reading your book (Jim) about (Albert) Ellis. I also learned from your book about Jim Byrne. The similarities are obvious. The differences are where most of the learning comes. You overcame your childhood experiences; he lived with his experiences, but the differences were that he needed help to conquer his experiences, but he never was able to “normalize” as you did. I’d like to hear your comments on what made the difference for you  – something within you or the people who helped you? Was his problem something he missed or didn’t think he needed? I think it was more the latter. What do you think?”

To see my response to her questions, please go here: https://abc-counselling.org/albert-ellis-a-wounded-psychotherapist/

~~~

Since 2013, my thinking about Albert Ellis and REBT has moved on again, into a more detailed critique of the foundational ideas underpinning his basic conclusions about human disturbance.  This work of mine is described in my latest boon on Ellis and REBT:

A Major Critique of REBT:

Revealing the many errors in the foundations of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy

Front cover3 of reissued REBT book

Also, we have added a reference to the research which shows that emotional pain and physical pain are both mediated and processed through significantly overlapping neural networks, which contradicts Dr Ellis’s claim that nobody could hurt you, except by hitting you with a baseball bat or a brick.

This is a comprehensive, scientific and philosophical  critique of the foundations of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, as developed by Dr Albert Ellis; including the dismantling of the philosophical foundations of the ABC model; and a decimating critique of the concept of unconditional self-acceptance. Almost nothing is left of REBT when the dust settles, apart from the system called Rational Emotive Imagery, which Dr Ellis borrowed from Maxi Maultsby.

Available in paperback and eBook formats.

Learn more.***

Price: £23.58 GBP (Paperback) and £6.99 GBP (Kindle eBook).

~~~

Front cover3 of reissued REBT book

Albert Ellis was a man of his time, which was a long time ago.  He modelled his philosophy of psychotherapy[y on the idealistic notions of a Roman slave, instead of on modern theories of social psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and so on. He grossly oversimplified the nature of human disturbance; blamed the client for ‘choosing’ to upset themselves; and denied the value of moral language.

We no longer need to reflect upon the contribution of Dr Ellis.  It was very small.

His contribution is evaluated in the book above: A Major Critique of REBT.

~~~

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Telephone: 01422 843 629

Email: drjwbyrne@gmail.com

~~~

 

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

~~~

Hebden Bridge Counselling Books

Hebden Bridge Counsellor Writes and Publishes Books

Updated on 11th August 2020

honetpieWe live in an era of information overload, so much so that you could live next door to a published author and not know about it!

You might we interested in what they wrote and published, if only you could find out that their work exists.

For this reason, I have decided to draw attention to the fact that I am a Hebden Bridge based counsellor/psychotherapist who also writes and edits and publishes books, such as the following:

~~~

Books-on-counsellingI hope you find this information interesting and helpful.  I am also happy to advise aspiring authors of similar books regarding the writing and editing processes involved, and the process of publication.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Email: drjwbyrne@gmail.com

~~~

 

The best kept secret of counselling and therapy

Blog Post No.146

10th  July 2016

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog:

The Best kept secret of counselling and therapy: The decisive role of the client

~~~

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Introduction

One of the best kept secrets of counselling and psychotherapy is this: The qualities of the client are at least as important as the qualities of the counsellor, in terms of determining the outcome (positive or negative).

But how can we refine this insight, this secret, so that it becomes clearer and more helpful or useful?

Defining client qualities

The first thing we could do is to try to define some of the most important client qualities.  Here is my own attempt to do that:Fool-type

  1. If the client knows they have a problem that they cannot resolve for themselves; and they realize that they are committed to resolving it nevertheless; and they twig that somebody else might have some kind of expert knowledge which could help them to solve their problem; and they realize that a counsellor or therapist could be just such a person: then they have a fighting chance of being able to access counselling, and to make good use of a counselling relationship and related processes.
  2. If this person then becomes a willing counselling client, and they have had the kind of experiences of being parented – when they were a child – which allows them to ask for help, and to take advice and guidance – then they have a good chance of being able to find out what their counsellor has in their toolbox which they could use to resolve their own most important problem(s).
  3. The more developed the client’s emotional intelligence, the better they will be able to able to manage their relationship with the therapist, as well as their own perceiving/feeling/thinking involvement in the therapy.
  4. The wiser the client is, the more they are going to be able to benefit from whatever they can learn from their counsellor or therapist. We are thinking here of the insight from Lao Tzu’s book, the Tao Te Ching (pronounced Dao-Day-Jing). In this book, Lao Tzu writes about the ‘way of the world’, or insights into the nature of reality. He goes on to say that, when a wise person hears about the ‘way of the world’, they follow it absolutely. When a middling person hears about the ‘way of the world’, sometimes they follow it, and sometimes they don’t. And when a fool hears about ‘the way of the world’, they laugh out loud.  Clearly a fool will gain little or nothing from counselling and therapy; and a middling person will lack the self-discipline to optimise the opportunities for learning from their therapist.  But a wise client will learn well from a good therapist.
  5. The Arabic Apothegm (or saying, or maxim), which I discovered at the age of fourteen years (while rooting through a mound of second-hand books, outside a Dublin bookstore), suggests that there are four kinds of people.

Teaching-learning5(a) The person who is ignorant, and is unaware of their ignorance: They are seen to be a fool, and the advice is to shun them.  (A counsellor could [almost certainly] never help them!)

5(b) The person who is ignorant, but is aware of their ignorance.  They are seen to be in need of teaching, and they may prove to be teachable.

5(c) The person who is substantially enlightened, but who is unaware of their enlightenment.  They are seen to be asleep, and are potentially able to be awakened. (A therapist could do a good job here).

5(d) And finally: the person who is enlightened, and who is aware that they are enlightened.  They are seen to be wise; and the advice is to follow them.

Type 5(d) individuals make good therapists.  Types 5(b) and 5(c) can obviously gain from counselling and therapy.  But type 5(a) is unlikely to gain anything from counselling and therapy.

~~~

Understanding the barrier

There are at least two or three ways that we can come to understand the barrier that prevents particular kinds of individuals benefiting from counselling and psychotherapy.

Habit-creaturesFirstly, from Zen Buddhism, we learn something about individual perception.  There is a Zen saying to the effect that, “When a thief meets a saint, all s/he sees are pockets!”  Thieves are interested in pockets, and the rest of us are driven to focus our attention on whatever our personal past taught us to focus our attention upon.  For examples:

(a) A person who has a particularly difficult kind of childhood will develop what is called ‘an avoidant attachment style’.  They will strive to operate in a remote and distant way with others, because of lack of trust, or fear of control, or expectation of rejection or hurt.  Such an individual is highly unlikely to seek out a counsellor or therapist, and if they do, they are likely to be too remote to benefit.

(b) A person who is prone to operate from what is called ‘Critical Parent ego state’ – which is to say, a person who engages in negative judgements of other, and who tends to put others down; to play a game of ‘Top Dog- Under Dog’ with others – such a person is highly unlikely to come to counselling or psychotherapy; and if they do, they are unlikely to be able to learn well from their counsellor.

(c) A person who is arrogant and harsh, or whose mind is closed to new learning, will not be open to any inputs from a counsellor.

~~~

Secondly, a person may be ‘sent’ to counselling; or ‘dragged along’ by a parent, or couple-partner.  They are not enrolled into the value of the counselling process.  They are coerced to go.  So they have no understanding of what is possible in the counselling process.  Therefore, they cannot use the counsellor’s toolbox (or relationship support); and so they cannot benefit from being there.

~~~

Thirdly, there is a therapeutic understanding of personal change in which a person is seen to proceed through the following stages:Pre-contemplators

3(a) Pre-contemplation: The person is not thinking of changing anything about their way of being; their life; or their relationships.

3(b) Contemplation: The person is aware of some discomfort or unworkability in their way of being, or the circumstances of their life.  And so they are beginning to think about the possibility of changing something.  So they might be willing to read something on the subject, or to ask questions, to think about the problem and how it would be good to change it.

3(c) Preparation: The person begins to plan some kind of action, to ameliorate their problem. This could include looking for an expert to help, including the possibility of looking for a counsellor or therapist, or a coach, etc.

3(d) Action: The person begins to take action to change their unworkable situation.

3(e) Maintenance: The person makes some gains or improvements; but now they have to keep remembering what they changed to produce this improvement in their life, and to keep maintaining that, in whatever ways may be necessary.  They may slip back, and then repeat the helpful change process, to move forward again.

A person at stage 3(a) may be sent to see a counsellor, but they cannot benefit, because they are not contemplating any kind of change.

~~~

Fourthly, a counsellor may try to persuade such a pre-contemplator that they could benefit from some particular kind of personal change, but that will not have as much impact as many counsellors assume.  Why is this? Because:

No-question(a) As Postman and Weingartner, two great educators, wrote many years ago: “No question, no teacher!”  That is to say, if the student has no question, then there is no call for an educator.  Education only occurs reliably when the student is open to instruction.  (The exception to this rule is in the basic moral teaching that goes on in families and schools.  We have to instruct the young in good, pro-social tendencies and behaviours, and penalise them for breaking the rules, if we are to live in a civilised society!) But in terms of broader learning goals, it is better to wait until the individual is curious before presenting any knowledge inputs. And:

(b) Postman and Weingartner’s perspective is supported by that of Marilyn Ferguson, who wrote this statement:

“No one can persuade another to change.  Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside.  We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal”.

Again there are exceptions to this rule: Advertising, ideological memes which take over the mind, and political rhetoric.  But what is true in Marilyn Ferguson’s statement is this: You cannot reliably open the gate of learning of a fellow adult, in a counselling or therapy context.  The client has to be there because they want to be there; and they have to be open to learning something if any learning is to be achieved.

A Way of Being by Carl Rogers. I am slowly integrating in my knowledge… |  by Nick Redmark | Cum Grano Salis | Medium(c) Carl Rogers had a way of expressing this, which goes like this: “I know I cannot teach anything to anybody.  I can only create an environment in which people can learn”.

A good counsellor, therefore, knows that s/he depends upon having a good client – a keen learner – if anything good is to come out of the counselling and therapy encounter.

Certainly, we can try to teach the client (meaning creating a favourable learning environment for them) – but if their ‘gate of change’ is locked from the inside, there is nothing we can do about that!

~~~

Dr Jim's photoPostscript: I would like to thank my wonderful clients – almost 900 of them – who, over a period of almost eighteen years (as at July 2016), have come to see me; worked hard on their problems; used my toolbox of models and techniques, and my relationship skills (as a secure base); and figured out how to build a better life for themselves.  Many of you have sent me testimonials*** about how well I served you, and what you gained, and how much better you now feel.  What has been missing up to now is this:

I hereby publicly acknowledge that you were at least half of the solution of your own problems.  Without your openness to change, there would have been nothing I could do to help you.  Without your willingness to look at painful aspects of your past history, nothing would have changed.  Without your courage, and you fortitude, your resilience and commitment to change, we would both have been wasting our time sitting in the same space.  Thank you for making my work productive; and for making my life meaningful.  Go well!

~~~

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Email: Dr Jim

~~~

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)

~~~

My new book on counselling practice

Writing and editing books is so time-consuming!

My new book on counselling theory and practice is almost ready!

Dr Jim's photoA blog post by Dr Jim Byrne, 22nd June 2016

Many years ago, I read a book on project management, in which the prime principle was said to be this: Estimate each task required to complete the project, and then double it!

In planning the writing and editing of my new book – titled, Holistic Counselling in Practice – I forgot to double my time estimates.  And so the book’s arrival has taken much longer than I had expected.

I am now close to the end of the endless processes of writing, illustrating, editing, and proof-reading.

Some delays occurred because: I decided to write a Foreword; Renata’s appendix – on Diet, Nutrition and the Body-Brain-Mind – took much longer than expected; and I decided that the book must have an index.

~~~

Update: 20th March 2021: Here are the current details about this book@

Holistic Counselling in Practice:

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

Front cover Holistic Couns reissuedBy Jim Byrne DCoun FISPC

With Renata Taylor-Byrne BSc (Hons) Psychol

This book was the original introduction to Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT), which was created by Dr Jim Byrne in the period 2009-2014, building upon earlier work from 2003.  It is of historic importance, but it has been superseded by Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person, below.

Prices from: £5.83p GBP (Kindle) and £15.18p (Paperback)

Paperback and eBook versions

~~~

Learn more.***

~~~

Anyway, here is an extract from the Foreword, for those of you who are getting impatient for an insight into the final shape of the book:

Foreword

Book-cover-frontIn these pages you will find a detailed introduction to the theory and practice of one of the most recent, and most comprehensive forms of holistic counselling and psychotherapy. This new system (for helping people to optimize their positive experiences of life, and to process their negative experiences), necessarily deals with emotions, thinking, stories and narratives, plus bodily states; and thus is called Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).

This book has been designed to be helpful for three audiences:

(1) Counsellors, psychotherapists, coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, educators and other;

(2) Students of counselling, psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry, social work and related disciplines;

(3) Self-help and personal development enthusiasts.

Complex-ABC-model-2003The content of this book has been a long time incubating, at the very least since 2001 when I first tried to defend the ABC model of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)/ Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) by relating it to the three core components of Freud’s model of the mind (or psyche): (1) the Id (or It [or baby-at-birth]); the Ego (or sense of self, or personality); and the Superego (or internalized other, including social and moral rules). The more I tried to defend REBT, the more its core models fell apart in my hands!

At the same time, I was studying thirteen different systems of counselling and therapy, from Freud and Jung, via Rogers and Perls, and the behaviourists, to the cognitivists and existentialists.

Later, I considered Plato’s model of the mind, alongside the Buddhist and Stoic philosophies of mind.

Attachment_urgeInto this mix, at some point, Attachment theory arrived, and that helped to make more sense of the mix.  Attachment theory and Object relations theory eventually formed the core of my model of the mother-baby dyad, and the way in which the mind of the baby was born out of the interpenetration (or overlapping interactions) of the physical baby and the cultural mother.

And this gave rise to a greater awareness of the individual counselling client as a ‘social individual’, who is ‘wired up’ (neurologically) by social stories to be a creature of habit, living out of historic scripts; and viewing the world through non-conscious frames which dictate how things ‘show up’ in their automatic (cumulative-interpretive) apprehension of the external world.

As these developments were reaching fruition, I also discovered the insights of interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB – Siegel 2015) and Affect Regulation Theory (Hill, 2015).

~~~

Body-mindsBut even beyond those developments, I also became increasingly aware that, because we are body-minds, our experience of sleep, diet, exercise, alcohol, water consumption, and socio-economic circumstances – (in addition to current and historic relationships) – have as much to do with our emotional disturbances (very often) as do our psychological habits of mind.

And in Appendix E, Renata Taylor-Byrne presents compelling evidence, from reliable sources, that anti-depressants are not nearly as effective as has been claimed; that drug companies hide negative trial results; that the real pills often fail to outperform placebo (sugar) pills; that the real pills are often totally ineffective; that they seem to be addictive, and difficult to get off in some cases; and they have serious side effects (in some cases involving suicidal ideation). And in addition, we agree with those theorists who have argued that physical exercise is at least as effective as anti-depressants; and also that some forms of dietary change can and do reduce and/or eliminate depression. (See Appendices E and F, below).

Exercise-body-mindCounselling and therapy systems have normally ignored the convincing evidence that exercise and diet can change our emotional states.  For example, in Woolfe, Dryden and Strawbridge’s (2003) book on counselling psychology, there are no references in the index to diet or physical exercise[1].  As in the case of McLeod (2003)[2], there is a ‘virtual postscript’ (in Chapter 29 [of 32] in Woolfe, Dryden and Strawbridge) on counselling psychology and the body – which is essentially about using bodily experience in counselling and therapy – as in breath work, and body awareness – though the chapter author (Bill Wahl) also includes a consideration of body-work as such.  However, in E-CENT, we consider that touch is too problematical (ethically) to include in our system of counselling.  What we do include, because it is now clearly an essential ingredient of the health and well-being of the whole-client (body-brain-mind), is awareness of the role of diet and exercise in the level of emotional disturbance of the client; and an awareness of the need to teach the client that their diet and exercise practices have a significant impact upon their emotional and behavioural performances in the world.  (See Appendices E and F).

~~~

For more, please go here:

Holistic Counselling in Practice:

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

Front cover Holistic Couns reissuedBy Jim Byrne DCoun FISPC

With Renata Taylor-Byrne BSc (Hons) Psychol

This book was the original introduction to Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT), which was created by Dr Jim Byrne in the period 2009-2014, building upon earlier work from 2003.  It is of historic importance, but it has been superseded by Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person, below.

Prices from: £5.83p GBP (Kindle) and £15.18p (Paperback)

Paperback and eBook versions

~~~

Learn more.***

~~~

Or here: E-CENT Institute, Book Preview.***

That’s all for today.

Best wishes,

Jim

Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

~~~

[1] Woolfe, R., Dryden, W., and Strawbridge, S. (eds) (2003) Handbook of Counselling Psychology. Second Edition. London: Sage Publications.

[2] McLeod, J. (2003) An Introduction to Counselling. Third Edition.  Buckingham: Open University Press.  Chapter 21 of 21; section 6 of 9 within that final chapter! No references to diet.  This is the totality of his commentary on physical exercise: “The therapeutic value of physical exercise is well established.  But, for the most part, counselling remains centred on talking rather than doing”. (Page 523 of 527!)

~~~

Writing daily pages for stress reduction and creativity

Blog Post No.8

Posted on 4th June 2016 (Originally posted on 21st October 2015)

Copyright © Renata Taylor-Byrne 2015

Renata’s Coaching/Counselling blog: A rave review of ‘The Artist’s Way’, by Julia Cameron.

Introduction

The-Artists-Way2.jpgThis book is one of the best books I have read about strengthening yourself and finding out what your unique path in life is; and it’s very practical and full of exercises.

Julia Cameron, the author, created the book which is called ‘The Artist’s way’. She’s a playwright, teacher, filmmaker, composer, novelist and journalist.

This blog will summarise the two main techniques of her book.

Many people have found her system extremely helpful when they are trying to unblock their creativity.

It is definitely not specifically for artists but for all of us who want to rediscover the creativity we had when we were young, and we feel stuck (in our lives/jobs/relationships etc.)

So it can help carers, social workers, lawyers, teachers, film producers,  and directors, actors, painters, writers, students, musicians – anyone who works at home or out in the world.

I have chosen two of the best techniques that she describes. I’ve been using these techniques for years, myself, and find them very helpful; and recommend them to anyone who wants to be more creative and less stressed. The techniques help people find out what they can do to create a happier life for themselves, and their families.

The first technique is called ‘Morning pages’

Julia-Cameron.jpegWriting ‘Morning Pages’ is a technique whereby you  write three pages of longhand writing (in your own handwriting– not on the computer) every day, early in the morning.

Just write down anything and everything that is on your mind: (she calls it stream-of-consciousness descriptions of whatever is on your mind or going through your mind).

Just write it all down; cover three pages; and there is no wrong way to do them. Do that every day.

If you can’t think of what to write, then write that down, over and over. (In other words, when I get stuck, instead of staring at the blank page, I simply write: ‘I am stuck! I am stuck! I am stuck! I am stuck! I am stuck!’  Until I get unstuck.) The main thing is to keep going and cover 3 pages.

Just write 3 pages, stick them in an envelope or folder, and then write 3 more the following day. No-one is allowed to read your morning pages except you.

She also says you shouldn’t read them yourself for the first 8 weeks or so.

Here’s an example she gives of what might go into your pages:

Oh God, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday…blah, blah, blah.’

Cameron-quote.JPGThis writing is not meant to be art. Or even writing. She says:

Daily pages are meant to be simply the act of moving the hand across the page, and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid or too weird to be included.’ (Cameron 1992[1])

She thinks that all the whiny stuff that we put down in the morning pages, stands between us and our creativity (if we don’t get it out):

‘Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your lover’s eyes – this stuff eddies through our unconscious and muddies our days. Get it on the page.’

Getting it out on the page helps us to process it!

She thinks that to recover our creativity, we need to write the morning pages – and she describes them as, ’The primary tool of creative recovery’.

Whatever creative work you do (and most jobs demand creativity of some kind) she states that:

‘We are victims of our own internalised perfectionist, a nasty internal and external critic, the Censor, who resides in our left brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguised as the truth…remember that your Censor’s negative opinions are not the truth. This takes practice.’

She gives some examples of the sort of things our inner Censor (our Inner Critic) says to us:

‘You call that writing? What a joke. You can’t even punctuate. What makes you think you can be creative?’

Because there is no wrong way to write the morning pages, your Censor’s opinion doesn’t count. So she advises us to let the Censor rattle on – just keep your hand moving across the page.+

She also says: ‘ It is impossible to write morning pages for any extended period of time without coming into contact with an unexpected inner power… the pages are a pathway to a strong and clear sense of self.’

You may think, ‘I’d never have the time to do that in the morning. It would be impossible!’

Well, if you experimented with the technique, and you experienced the rewards of unburdening yourself every day, then you might find that you start to like it. You will also become clearer about the things your inner Censor or Critic says to you, and you would be less at the mercy of your perfectionism.

Sometimes I cannot find the time to write my pages in the morning, so I do them later in the day when I have more time. But it’s clear to see that the morning is ideal.

Here is a lovely quote from Julia Cameron about what the daily pages do:

‘What you have been doing is wiping the mirror. Each day’s morning pages takes a swipe at the blur you have kept between you and your true self…the snowflake pattern of your soul is emerging’

The benefits of doing the ‘Morning pages’

Pennebaker.jpgWhy do the ‘Morning pages’ work as a way to help people recover their creativity, energy and enthusiasm, and reconnect them with their cherished dreams and goals?

What the writing of the pages every day does, is it gets us to write out what’s been on our minds from the previous day. It clears out the accumulated memories, niggles, upsets, and ideas.

Writing the pages gets it out of our heads and onto the paper. This is so good for us, because our brain doesn’t benefit from rumination and it can be bad for our health.

The benefits of writing things out of our system was investigated by Dr James Pennebaker of the University of Texas. He thinks that regular writing (he calls it ‘journaling’) strengthens our immune cells, called T-lymphocytes.  Other research has shown that regular writing reduces the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Pennebaker also believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, and this means a reduction in the impact of these stressors on your physical health.

Also, writing your daily pages and then reviewing them, allows you to notice any repeating patterns in your life events or how you handle problems, and any improvement and growth over time.

The second recommended technique is called the ‘Artist’s date’

This next technique  is called the  ‘Artist’s date’ and Julia Cameron recommends that, for a couple of hours, once a week, you go out on your own and spend  time with yourself – no one else should be there. She gives some examples of where you could go:

This could include: ‘A visit to a great junk store, a solo trip to the beach, to the pictures, to an aquarium or an art gallery etc.’

Some of the things I like to do include: going to a local garden centre; or to a city art gallery (often in Manchester or Leeds; or York or Scarborough; or the National in London); and I love to browse in interesting junk shops.

Julia Cameron says: ‘Spending time in solitude with your artist child (part of you) is essential to self-nurturing. A long country walk, or bowling, or a visit to an ethnic neighbourhood to taste foreign sights and sounds – your artist might like these.’

She explains that, for us to be creative, we need to draw on our inner ‘well’, which is like a reservoir, or a well-stocked fish pond. If we don’t attend to our creativity and keep stocking this ‘well’ with new impressions, then we’ll have nothing to draw on.

People from all walks of life can benefit from these two techniques, and she has helped many people recover their lost creativity and enthusiasm for life and self-expression.

There are other techniques I could mention, but I think these are the top ones, and the ones I have found most beneficial.

So – see what you think of her techniques. She has a very interesting website, and you may be inspired by her clearly written, emotionally honest descriptions of how she found her path in life, and also the enthusiastic feedback she gets from her readers, after they have tried out her techniques.

Happy writing!

Renatas-coaching-div2Best wishes,

Renata Taylor-Byrne

Coach-Counsellor

The Coaching and Counselling Division

Renata4coaching@btinternet.com

01422 843 629

~~~

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)

~~~

Depression; Problem rating; and the concept of ‘awfulizing’

Blog Post No. 142

By Dr Jim Byrne

15th February 2016: Updated on … 2nd February and 3rd May 2020

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: Understanding depression; how to accurately rate your problems; and the myth of ‘awfulizing’…

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2016

~~~

Introduction

The Lifestyle Counselling Book
The Lifestyle Counselling Book

A few days ago, I finishing Appendix F of my new book on E-CENT Counselling.  Appendix F is about how to define, understand and reduce depression.  I thought you might like to see a quick preview of the first couple of pages; so I have appended them below.

The next thing I did was to write Appendix G, which looks at how to evaluate the degree of badness of your problematical situations in life. This is important because an exaggerated evaluation of the degree of badness of a problem in your life will result in a more painful emotional state than a more accurate evaluation.

Update: 2nd February 2020: This material can now be found in Chapter 7 of our book, Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person.***

~~~

But first, here’s how the book’s Summary begins:

Summary

New-counselling-book.JPGChapter 1 begins with a basic description of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied-Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).  This if followed by a brief outline of the basic theory of E-CENT.

The chapter then goes on to explore some of the models (of the social individual) that were integrated to produce Emotive-Cognitive Embodied-Narrative Therapy (E-CENT), plus those that have been added since 2010. But the main presentation of the core models of E-CENT theory can be found in Chapter 6.

E-CENT counselling theory sees humans as essentially socialized-physical-cultural-emotional-story-tellers. We tell stories to ourselves and others, and we live in a world of narratives and scripts, which include reasonable and unreason-able elements, logical and illogical elements, and more defensible and less defensible elements. We tend to delete elements of our storied experiences; to distort some other elements; and to generalize from particular experiences. And we also have lots of early experiences which are non-narrativized, but still operational in the basement of our emotional lives.

~~~

Childhood-experiences.JPGHumans often tend to push away (or repress) unpleasant experiences; to fail to process them; and to then become the (unconscious) victims of those repressed, and/or undigested experiences.  E-CENT theory also sees adult relationships as being the non-conscious acting out of childhood experiences (which occurred with parents and siblings), because some part of those earlier relationships have not been properly digested and completed.

Furthermore, there are significant disruptions that can occur at various stages in the early childhood experience of the individual which can produce specific forms of relationship dysfunction in later life.

front cover holistic couns reissuedIn a broader sense than that outlined above, E-CENT was developed by this author over many years of study and application, in private practice with more than 800 clients.

Here are just two of the key principles of E-CENT:

# Firstly, it takes into account that we are bodies as well as minds, and so diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation/meditation, drugs and other physical inputs and stimuli are seen as important factors in determining the emotional state of the individual client.

# Secondly, it starts from the assumption that we are primarily social animals, and not solitary individuals. We are social to our very roots, especially from the moment of parturition, when we are handed into the arms of our mothers. Everything that happens from that point onwards – and also including the original birth trauma – is significant for the development of the so-called ‘individual’ (who is really an amalgam of significant other ‘individuals’ with whom we are related from birth onwards, and who we ‘internalize’ as ‘models’).

Chapter 2 outlines twenty such core beliefs of E-CENT philosophy.

Chapter 3 explores the structure and application of the Six Windows Model.

Holistic Counselling in Practice:

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

front cover holistic couns reissued
Cover design by Will Sutton

By Jim Byrne DCoun FISPC

With Renata Taylor-Byrne BSc (Hons) Psychol

This book was the original introduction to Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT), which was created by Dr Jim Byrne in the period 2009-2014, building upon earlier work from 2003.  It is of historic importance, but it has been superseded by Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person, above.

Prices from: £5.83p GBP (Kindle) and £15.18p (Paperback)

Paperback and eBook versions

Learn more.***

~~~

Update: 2nd February 2020: This material can now be found in Chapter 7 of our book, Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person.***

Or go to the ABC Bookstore for more books…***

The.6.windows.model002.jpg

According to E-CENT theory, we do not see with our eyes so much as with our brains.  Eyes are part of the machinery of perception, but the decisions about ‘what it is’ that we see are not made by our eyes.  Those decisions are made by our ‘stored experiences’ driving our ‘judgements’.  We do not see ‘external events’ so much with our eyes then as we see them through ‘frames of reference and interpretation’ which were created in the past, and which we now implement as habit-based stimulus-response pairings.  Or we could call these responses ‘pattern matching’ processes.  If this pattern matching process was conscious and linguistic (which it is not!) then this is the sense it would make of an incoming stimulus: “I’ve seen this stimulus (or ‘external event’) before.  This (particular interpretation) is the sense I made of it last time.  So that is how I will relate to it this time”.

…End of extract.

~~~

Depressed-woman2.jpgAppendix F: How to control your depressive tendencies

by Dr Jim Byrne

~~~

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2016

~~~

Introduction

This appendix to Chapter 5 will focus on the emotion of depression, as it is found in counselling and therapy sessions.  And we will address the questions of:

(1) how to understand depression; (and some of the differences between ‘depression’ and ‘grief’); and:

(2) how to control or reduce depressive tendencies.

The Lifestyle Counselling Book

This appendix is written in the form of a self-help manual, but it can be used by counsellors and therapists to learn how to apply the E-CENT approach to depression in counselling sessions.

One of the systems from which E-CENT theory was derived is Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).

REBT theory has a straightforward binary distinction between:

(1) ‘sadness’ – (which is a less intense level of negative mood than depression; and is also said to be ‘appropriate’) – and

(2) ‘depression’ (which is a high level of negative feeling, which is both distressing and ‘inappropriate’).

In E-CENT theory, we do not consider all depression to be inappropriate.

Just as we see anger and anxiety as innate aspects of our biological survival equipment, so also do we begin with depression (or rather grief) as an innate element of our emotional repertoire which has served, and to some extent still serves, to enhance our survival goals and capabilities – especially in relation to our attachment systems.

Understanding grief and depression

As usual, if we begin our attempt to understand an emotion by examining a modern adult in a counselling room, we are going to miss many important, concealed elements of that emotion.

Babt-as-model.JPGBut if we think of a baby on the plains of the Serengeti, about one hundred thousand years ago, we can well imagine that it was the infants who screamed and wailed with grief whenever they were parted from their mothers (even for a short time), who had the best chance of survival, and passing on their genes to their descendants; and that those babies who lay quietly while mother ignored and abandoned them, would have been quickly found and devoured by hungry predators.

John Bowlby has described the grief process in four stages: the first of which was shock; secondly, anger and wailing; then resignation; and finally detachment from the lost attachment figure (which would facilitate re-attachment to a new care-giver in the case of a lost or abandoned child – or a ‘divorced’ adult).

The anger and wailing stage is helpful because it draws attention to the plight of the grieving one, and calls for sympathy and rescue.

It was in the context of this kind of evolutionary perspective on the value of grief that I originally wrote this statement:

“Grief is appropriate depression about a significant loss or failure; while depression is inappropriate grief about some apparently significant loss or failure.  And theinappropriate quality comes out of our unrealistic demands about life and experience, and our tendency to catastrophize”.  Dr Jim Byrne

~~~

Focusing on depression

Let us assume that you are a counselling client who is currently feeling strong feelings of depression (though you could, of course be a counsellor or a self-help enthusiast, looking for ways to help others rather than yourself!)

Your symptoms might be as follows:

Common symptoms of depression: Feeling extremely sad and lethargic; Mentally pained and miserable; Crying a lot; Sleep disturbance; Reduced sex urge; Feeling helpless; Pessimism about the future; Primarily negative memories of the past; Perhaps feeling suicidal, or seeing little value in living.

Depression-solution.JPGMy job here is to present you with a useful model of grief/depression; and also a brief, effective solution to the problem of depression, in terms of how to manage it and reduce it. (But my overall aim is to illustrate the E-CENT theory of depression, and how we set about helping clients to reduce their feelings of depression).

The first thing we need to do is to check how depressed you are at the moment, so you can monitor your progress as you learn how to eliminate your negative feelings.

…end of extract.

~~~

Update: 2nd February 2020: This material can now be found in Chapter 7 of our book, Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person.***

Or go to the ABC Bookstore for more books…***

Let us now take a look at a brief extract from Appendix G:

Appendix G: Just how bad is your problem? Or how to emote appropriately

Copyright © Dr Jim Byrne, February 2016

Introduction

Human disturbance is not too difficult to understand.  There is one key distinction that you must be able to make, if you are going to optimize the management of your emotions.  This is it:

  1. Sometimes you have a really big problem in your life; and:
  2. Sometimes you have a small problem, but, because of your tendency to exaggerate, it feels like a huge problem.

Let’s take a closer look at that this distinction:

  1. Sometimes you have a big problem in your life, and that is why you are (predictably and necessarily) upset.  (An example would be the time when Albert Ellis – the founding father of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy [REBT] was unfairly {in his judgement} removed from his professional duties, and removed from the board of his own institute – after more than fifty years of successful practice.  He was extremely upset, as was shown by the fact that he wanted his main adversary “dead, dead, dead”.  And also by the fact that he sued his opponents for ‘unfair dismissal’ – even though he had spent a lifetime denying his clients the right to raise ‘unfairness issues’ with him!  [This is an example of the disparity between the thoughts and actions of an extreme Stoic.  They talk a great story of indifference to harm, but if you harm them, they will squeal!])

So if you have a real, actual, major problem, don’t let any CBTers or REBTers talk you out of your right to be realistically and reasonably upset about it!

Exaggerated-problem.JPGHowever:

  1. Sometimes you think you have a bigger problem than you actually have, and that is why you are (unnecessarily) upset – or much more upset than you should (realistically) be. I will give you an example of such a situation later, below (involving a traffic jam while driving); and also show you how to produce a more realistic assessment of the degree of badness of any situation.

Really big problems, and apparently big problems

Here are two examples of the first kind of situation, where the problem is realistically appraised by you as being a major problem:

(a) You are predictably (and appropriately – and unavoidably) upset whenever things orevents or people in your environment exert more pressure upon you than you can handle at that time.  The solution in those situations is to try to reduce the pressures (to the degree that any of them can be controlled), while building up your coping capacities – (through improved diet; getting plenty of sleep; doing some physical exercise; setting social support (or professional help and advice); seeing a counsellor or therapist who can help with your thinking/feeling/behaviour; self-managing your thinking about your problems [for example, with the Six Windows Model, from Chapter 3]; and so on).

(b) You’re predictably (and appropriately – and unavoidably) upset when early childhood experiences are re-stimulated in the present moment. The solution in these kinds of situations is to work at resolving your childhood traumas, with a suitable counsellor or therapist; and/or through writing your autobiography of the traumatic period, in order to re-frame and process the trauma.

So much for the real, major problems.

As suggested above, you can also create problems for yourself by exaggerating the degree of badness of a challenging or frustrating or insulting experience.

Exaggerating the extent of your problems

When something relatively minor happens in your life – something that you would like to have avoided – you may have a knee-jerk reaction of trying to push that event or experience away.  But if it cannot be eliminated, and you are rating it (consciously or non-consciously) as very, very bad, then you will feel a really uncomfortable emotion – like anger, anxiety or depression, hurt, etc. – as a result of the exaggerated intensity of the badness of the problem.

An example of this kind of problem would be the driver who gets out on the motorway, (or highway, autobahn, etc.) with the expectation that it will take a certain amount of time to get to work, only to find a huge traffic jam which will make him or her very late for work.  If this individual makes the mistake of ‘perfinking’ (or perceiving/feeling/thinking [consciously or non-consciously]) that this is the worst imaginable situation to be in – or that this is totally bad – then they will feel intense frustration, leading to angry and/or anxious feelings, and high blood pressure, at the very least.

But this situation has a history, which has to be understood.  It is not a pure product of the present moment!

The historical aspects

If this person had previously been to see me, I would have advised him or her to always ‘pad’ (or overestimate) his or her travel time requirement, and to use any surplus time they ‘inherit’ (by arriving too early for work) to meditate or do some physical exercise (or to write some Daily Pages,[1]) somewhere quiet in their work premises. And I would also have trained him or her to spot when they are exaggerating the degree of badness of mildly bad problems.

But this person, stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway, has not been to see me.  And they are panicking about being late for work, because they did not allow time for such a (fairly predictable) traffic jam.  And they are feeling so frustrated and angry, about this delay, that we can infer that their perfinking (perceiving/ feeling/ thinking [probably mainly non-consciously]) could be translated as something like this: “This is a totally bad situation, which I refuse to accept.  It’s not fair that I’m going to be late for work, which will count against me with my boss.  I can’t stand this kind of situation.  And the world’s a rotten place for doing this to me!”

I am not saying “this is what they are thinking”, which some CBT or REBT therapists would say.  I am saying, their (conscious and non-conscious) thinking/feeling/perceiving (which I call their perfinking) could be interpreted as being very roughly equivalent to the statements presented above.

…End of extract.

~~~

front cover holistic couns reissued

Update: 2nd February 2020: This material can now be found in Chapter 7 of our book, Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person.***

Or go to the ABC Bookstore for more books…***

~~~

Some further thoughts

My next priority is to write Appendix J, on two of Albert Ellis’s major errors: the role of ‘beliefs’ and the word ‘awful’.

While I was doing some earlier work, Al’s theory of ‘awfulizing’ – the idea that people are upset by describing their problems as awful – began to unravel in my head[2].  I remembered that Al claimed the “We’re the only people (meaning REBTers) who define the word awful accurately”.

He went on to say that “awful means more than bad; badder than bad; and badder than it should be; and normally at least 100% bad; and sometimes more than 100% bad, which nothing can be”.

A bell rang in my head, and I found myself wondering how my dictionary defines the word “awful”.  When I checked, I was surprised to find that it describes awful as “very bad or unpleasant”.

If we use Ellis’s definition of ‘awful’, then clearly nothing is ever ‘awful’ – it’s just a gross exaggeration of the degree of badness of a situation.

But if we use the Paperback Oxford English Dictionary (Soanes, 2002), then many, many aspects of our daily lives are clearly awful!

Ellis’s damaged past

How did Al Ellis come to define the word ‘awful’ so badly – so far from the established meanings in society?  I would suggest that this habit of his stems from his childhood, when he was hospitalised for almost ten months on his own, at the age of six years, with just one or two visits from his mother, over that entire period![3]

According to John Bowlby’s theory of attachment, little Albert Ellis would have begun by becoming angry and whining; moved on to grieving; and then detached from his parents.  He might also have found his negative feelings of aloneness and isolation to be too painful to look at, and so he began to repress out of conscious awareness any negative feelings that came into his mind.  Because he would not allow himself to look at any degree of badness in the world – abandonment, loneliness, isolation, insecurity – he could not allow anybody else to draw his attention to anything that was awful about their own lives.

Front cover3 of reissued REBT bookThen, when he was a teenager, he found a philosophy of life that helped him to respectabilise aversion to looking at anything bad. He found Stoicism, in the form of the writings of Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius.   And what I have discovered about Epictetus and Marcus in particular is this: They have evolved both:

(1) moderate ways of helping people to detract themselves from their suffering; or to reframe it so it feels better. And:

(2) extreme ways of denying that they have been harmed!

I have presented examples of (1) and (2), in Appendix J.

Counsellors should not deny their clients the right to describe some of their experiences as awful, terrible and horrible; since many of life’s difficulties are actually awful, according to my dictionary.

~~~

A Major Critique of REBT:

Revealing the many errors in the foundations of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy

Front cover3 of reissued REBT book

Also, we have added a reference to the research which shows that emotional pain and physical pain are both mediated and processed through significantly overlapping neural networks, which contradicts Dr Ellis’s claim that nobody could hurt you, except by hitting you with a baseball bat or a brick.

This is a comprehensive, scientific and philosophical  critique of the foundations of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, as developed by Dr Albert Ellis; including the dismantling of the philosophical foundations of the ABC model; and a decimating critique of the concept of unconditional self-acceptance. Almost nothing is left of REBT when the dust settles, apart from the system called Rational Emotive Imagery, which Dr Ellis borrowed from Maxi Maultsby.

Available in paperback and eBook formats.

Learn more.***

Price: £23.58 GBP (Paperback) and £6.99 GBP (Kindle eBook).

~~~

Conclusion

Some of my latest thinking in this new book moves E-CENT theory another little bit further away from … REBT.

This book has proved to be a mammoth undertaking, and used up much more of my time and energy than I had expected.

I hope you … buy the paperback or Kindle versions at Amazon, and that you enjoy it as much as I am enjoying the writing of it.

A Major Critique of REBT:

Revealing the many errors in the foundations of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy

Front cover3 of reissued REBT book

Also, we have added a reference to the research which shows that emotional pain and physical pain are both mediated and processed through significantly overlapping neural networks, which contradicts Dr Ellis’s claim that nobody could hurt you, except by hitting you with a baseball bat or a brick.

This is a comprehensive, scientific and philosophical  critique of the foundations of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, as developed by Dr Albert Ellis; including the dismantling of the philosophical foundations of the ABC model; and a decimating critique of the concept of unconditional self-acceptance. Almost nothing is left of REBT when the dust settles, apart from the system called Rational Emotive Imagery, which Dr Ellis borrowed from Maxi Maultsby.

Available in paperback and eBook formats.

Learn more.***

Price: £23.58 GBP (Paperback) and £6.99 GBP (Kindle eBook).

~~~

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

jim.byrne @ abc counselling 

ABC Coaching and Counseling Services

Here’s the link to review the archives of Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog.***

Or go to the ABC Bookstore for more books…***

Footnotes

[1] Cameron, J. (1992) The Artist’s Way: a spiritual path to higher creativity.  London: Souvenir Books.

[2] In E-CENT counselling theory, we say that people are upset for all kinds of reasons, only some of which are related to their thinking.  But we disagree with the idea that the word ‘awful’ is part of what upsets them.  You can define a problem of yours as ‘awful’ and not feel particularly upset about it.  And you can focus your bare (conscious) attention upon another of your problems and feel dreadfully upset.  Much of the mentalizing that upsets us is non-conscious and habit based.  It involves our ‘perfinking’ (or perceiving, feeling and thinking).  And the real experiences that we have (in the present and in the past) are strongly implicated in our disturbances.

[3] Byrne, J. (2013) A Wounded Psychotherapist: Albert Ellis’s Childhood, and the strengths and limitations of REBT/CBT.  Hebden Bridge: the Institute for Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy (E-CENT) Publications.

~~~

Here’s the link to review the archives of Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog.***

Or go to the ABC Bookstore for more books…***

~~~

Transactional Analysis Resources

Jim Byrne, Dr of Counselling, does health coaching

Blog Post Update

14th May 2016 (Updated on 15th May 2021)

The Transactional Analysis  Page is Back

by Dr Jim Byrne

I have today restored my old resource page on Transactional Analysis, because it is so popular, and because I do not have tome to write a new one.  Here’s how it begins:

What is Transactional Analysis, and how we use it in E-CENT counselling?

Four models from Transactional Analysis (TA) counselling, as used in Classic TA and in E-CENT counselling: (1) The ego-state theory and model; (2) Script theory; (3) The Drama Triangle; and (4) the OK Corral.  Quotes and video footage from Dr Eric Berne.

natajim-coaching-counselling2Resource 3 – How to understand and apply Transactional Analysis (TA) in your life

by Dr Jim Byrne

12th September 2015: Updated 14th May 2021

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2009-2019-2021

Introduction

Sigmund Freud created the insight that the human individual has three main components to their personality or being.  These are: (1) the part that was born (the body-mind, or the ‘it’); (2) The internalized others (mainly mother and father, etc; which he called the over-I); and (3) The socialized personality (which he called the I: which Anglicized psychoanalysis called ‘the ego’).

Freud’s system of psychoanalysis was slow and difficult, and involved trying to externalize the contents of the non-conscious part of the mind of the patient/client.

Eric Berne was an American medical doctor and trained psychiatrist, who, at the end of the Second World War, was interested in finding ways of making psychoanalysis more accessible to ordinary people, in a way that was quicker and more efficient than Freud’s approach.

And here’s the link: Transactional Analysis Resource Page.***

~~~