Coaching and counselling in hebden bridge

Blog Post No. 165

By Dr Jim Byrne

30th March 2018

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog:

What is coaching, counselling or psychotherapy, and why might you benefit from it?

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Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2018

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Introduction

natajim-coaching-counsellingCoaching, counselling and psychotherapy can be life-changing experiences.  Renata and I certainly have had lots of such experiences ourselves, through various processes; and we have each helped lots of individuals to change their lives for the better.

But many people have no idea what these kinds of help involve.  So here is what Renata says about her work:

About Renata Taylor-Byrne’s coaching/counselling work

“My main function is life is to be a ‘people grower’, and a healer of the body-brain mind.

“If you’re struggling with problems to do with…

* handling unexpected or demanding changes in your life circumstances

* changing one of your habits, or starting a new one

* reducing your feelings of being under pressure and stress

* clarifying your thinking or feelings

* achieving important goals; or:

* working to change a difficult emotional or relationship problem…

…then I can help you with these and similar challenges.

Counselling-room1001“I offer a safe space in which to talk about your problems, to get advice and guidance, to learn some new knowledge, techniques or models, and generally to work out a way forward that suits you.

You can contact me by email at renata@abc-counselling.org, or you can find out more about my services here: https://abc-counselling.org/life-coaching-hebden-bridge/

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But how, exactly, would Renata help you?  This is what she writes:

“I practice a form of coaching/counselling called Lifestyle Coaching and Holistic Counselling.

nature-and-health31“This overlaps all other forms of talk-therapy and coaching guidance, but it also significantly includes the latest research on the connection between the brain and the guts, and the role that gut health plays in sound emotional wellbeing (which some people call good ‘mental health’). It also includes insights from research on diet, physical exercise, sleep patterns, and stress.  It is often said that an army ‘marches on its stomach’, and it is true that successful individuals, in every walk of life, manage their lifestyle in such a way as to maintain healthy diet, guts, muscles, sleep patterns, and so on.  And when they don’t, they don’t have much staying power, and they under-perform in an unhappy life-space!”

Why not give Renata a chance to help you with your apparently intractable problems?  Telephone: 01422 843 629

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About Dr Jim Byrne’s Counselling and Psychotherapy Division

And now, here is what Jim say’s about his own service:

DrJimCounselling002“I have helped more than one thousand individuals to overcome distressing problems of anger, anxiety, depression, stress, panic, traumatic experience, couple conflict, insecure attachment, and so on.

I do that work via conversation, which is warm and friendly, and helpful, and insightful, and exploratory, and designed to help you to straighten out your story in your head, and to straighten out your feelings in your heart and your guts.

I also give advice on how to manage your body-brain-mind, and your environment, for optimum functioning.

As indicated on the main homepage, we at ABC Coaching, practice the most up to the minute form of emotive-cognitive therapy and coaching.  It’s called Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT), and it integrates the best elements of all the pre-existing systems of counselling and therapy.  And it includes a strong focus upon lifestyle factors, like diet, exercise and sleep patterns.”

And if you want to find out what individuals gained from consulting Jim in the past, then please take a look at the Unsolicited Client Testimonials page.*** Here: https://abc-counselling.org/counselling-client-testimonials/

Or take a look at Dr Jim’s Counselling Division.***

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Coaching, counselling and/or psychotherapy, with Renata or Jim, could transform your current life into a happier, healthier more enjoyable life-space!

That’s all for today!

Best wishes,

Jim

 

Jim & Renata's logo
ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

01422 843 629

drjwbyrne@gmail.com

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Emotionally Intelligent Resilience

Blog Post No. 162

By Dr Jim Byrne

11th February 2018

Updated: Sunday 25th February 2018 – (See Postscript No.2 at the end of this blog)

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog:

Contrasting moderate stoicism against extreme stoicism in dealing with life’s adversities…

A personal blog story…

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Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2018

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Story at a glance:

  • I recently faced a serious adversity involving the crashing of a piece of written work – (a digital index in a Word document,  for a new book) – which had taken weeks to construct; and which will now (it seems) take weeks of work to restore!
  • I felt very bad when I realized how serious the problem was.
  • I instinctively used a system of coping which I have described as the ‘wounded cat’ position – which involves allowing the passage of time; and staying with the bad feelings; and not trying to jump over them.
  • In order to illustrate this ‘wounded cat’ process, I present a case study of a former client who had a serious loss to deal with, and to whom I recommended this process.  It was highly effective in allowing the client to process and integrate his sense of loss.
  • I have also clarified that there are two other processes that have to be in place before the ‘wounded cat’ process can be used: (1) Work on family-of-origin fragility; and (2) development of  moderate stoical re-framing skills.

Context

Why people become upsetWhen important things go wrong in a person’s life, that person predictably and understandably becomes emotionally upset.  This was a common-sense perspective until rational and cognitive therapy resuscitated an ancient Roman slave’s perspective which asserts (wrongly) that people are not upset by what happens to them!

And that is precisely the problem.  Epictetus was a slave in ancient Rome.  Not only was he a slave, but his mother, before him, was also a slave; and he was born into slavery.  Imagine how low his expectations of life would be – the slavish son of a slavish woman!  And then he was released by his slave-owner, to preach Extreme Stoicism to the masses.

For a time, I was taken in by Stoicism, and subscribed not only to moderate Stoicism (which is realistic resilience), but also to extreme Stoicism (which is an unrealistic and unhealthy tendency to try to tolerate the intolerable!).

Today I want to present you with a little story of a recent adversity that I had to face – (which I am still having to face) – as a way of teaching a particular point about philosophy of life, and how it fits into emotional self-management. Needless to say, I will be trying to avoid Extreme Stoicism, while at the same time showing some resilience in the face of adversity.

The adversity is actually more than a ‘little’ problem.  Basically, I was getting close to publishing my next book – Counselling the Whole Person – and I had produced two or three new sections of the index, at the back of the book.

Cover, full, revised 5-10th Feb

The rest of the index had been borrowed from an earlier version of parts of this book (published as Holistic Counselling in Practice, in 2016), and the complete index seemed to be working well electronically (in that the automatic page numbering changed correctly, every time I inserted new pages, or extracted deleted pages).  Then, all of a sudden, I noticed some of the entries in the index did not correspond to the content of the pages to which they referred.  They were out by exactly 8 pages.  Always the same scale of error. I checked four, five, seven, nine, entries, and every single one was incorrect.  So I checked eight or ten more.  Each one was inaccurate.  The index had become corrupted somehow, and was now useless, because it was misleading and inaccurate.  I could not see any way to fix this, and so I had to decide to delete the whole index, including the extensive entries for two or three new chapters that I had recently completed, (which had involved about two or three weeks’ work altogether).  I am now faced with constructing a whole new index, which may take a month, or six weeks.  Who can say?

Coping with adversity

Sleep section of indexThis is a significant adversity, for me.  It involves a lot of wasted labour constructing a useless index, which had to be dumped.  It involves having to do a lot of days and days and days of reconstructing this index, which prevents me from engaging in other areas of important and urgent work.

A moderate stoical way of seeing this, which is the E-CENT approach, goes like this: “This is awful – but I am determined to cope with it!” (It is awful in the sense of being very bad; and very unpleasant.) And my commitment to cope with it is in the context that there are some things I can control, and some I cannot control.  And so I will try to control those aspects of this problem which are controllable by me!

By contrast, an extreme stoical way of seeing this same problem – which comes to us from rational and cognitive therapy – would be: “This isn’t awful.  I certainly can stand it.  And it should be the way it indubitably is”.

The problem with this extreme stoical approach is this:

  1. It’s completely unsympathetic to the suffering individual who is facing the adversity.
  2. It encourages the victim of adversity to jump over their emotional response, and to deny that they have any right to feel upset about this. (In practice, the extreme stoic often sails under a false flag, [which may actually be non-conscious!], which claims that they only want the victim of adversity to avoid overly-upset emotions, and to keep their reasonably upset emotions! But in practice, there is no space in an REBT session [based on extreme stoicism] for the client to articulate their reasonable upsets, and to have them acknowledged!  And they had better not expect any sympathy, because they sure as hell are not going to get it!)

So, given that I have moved away from extreme stoicism (in all its forms, including REBT and CBT), and now only practice moderate stoicism, how have I managed my adversity involving my crashed and burned index?

My moderate stoical approach to coping with adversity

Firstly, I no longer use the ABC model of REBT/CBT, because those systems are based on the false belief expressed by Epictetus like this: “People are not upset by what happens to them, but rather, by their attitude towards what has happened to them”.  And the only aspect of their ‘attitude’ that is taken into account by modern rational and emotive therapies is this: The thinking component of their attitude!  But our attitudes have three components, which are all interrelated and bound up together – the thinking component; the feeling component; and the behavioural component.

I reject the Epictetan view, that I am upset by my attitude, and not by the crashing of my index. I know I am upset by the crashing of my index, and the negative train of events which flowed from that happening.  If my index had not crashed, I could not possibly be upset about a non-existent event!

And I reject the modern cognitive/rational perspective, that the only thing that intervenes between my experience of my crashed index and my upset emotions is my Beliefs or Thoughts about the experience.

Firstly, it is not possible to separate out my so-called thinking from my so-called feeling, and my so-called behavioural response.  In our E-CENT model – the Holistic SOR model – there is only this:

S – Stimulus = I notice that my index has crashed

O = Organism = My whole body-brain-mind identifies (or matches) this adversity with a historically shaped response, linked to similar experiences in the past.

R = Response = My emotional and behavioural response is outputted, or expressed, into the world.

PS: I will write some more about what goes on inside the ‘O’ (or Organism) tomorrow!

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Epictetus was a slave, with low expectations of life, and his writings were discovered by 19 year old Albert Ellis who had low expectations of social connection, love, and affection, because he was seriously neglected by his parents from the beginning of his life.  Ellis has tried to teach all of us to join him and Epictetus in having exceedingly low expectations of life.  Ellis calls this “High Frustration Tolerance” – but I have called it “Tolerating the Intolerable“; or “Putting up with the changeable and fixable aspects of adversity!”

Resilience as defined by Albert Ellis and Epictetus is way too far from what I now see as necessary or reasonable expectations of a human being.    I have reviewed a lot of literature on modern views of resilience, and I have summarized that work in my book on REBT.  Here’s a brief extract:

“In this spirit, I want to make the following points.  Perhaps we should abandon any reference to Stoicism in counselling and therapy, and replace them with advice on how to become more resilient in the face of unavoidable life difficulties.  Southwick and Charney (2012)[i] – two medical doctors – suggest that a useful curriculum for the development of greater resilience would include: Developing optimism (and overcoming learned pessimism); Facing up to our fears (or being courageous); Developing a moral compass (or learning to always do what is the right thing, rather than what is opportunistically advantageous); Developing a spiritual, faith, or community connection that is bigger than the self; Connecting to others for social support; Finding and following resilient role models; Practising regular physical exercise; Working on brain-mind fitness, including mindfulness and cognitive training – (but Southwick and Charney overlooked the impact of food and gut flora on the brain-mind, so that needs to be considered also); Developing flexibility in our thinking-feeling-behaviour (including acceptance and reappraisal); Focusing on the meaning of your life, the purpose of your life, and on desired areas of personal growth.”

“Perhaps a consideration of these ideas could take us beyond the ‘wishful thinking’ about impossible goals set by Zeno, Marcus and Epictetus (and Albert Ellis, and some other CBT theorists).”  (Extracted from my book on REBT. )

Footnote [i] Southwick, S.M. and Dennis S. Charney (2013) Resilience: The science of mastering life’s greatest challenges.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

If you have been enrolled into the Extreme Stoicism of REBT, and you want to think your way out again, so you can be fully human, living from your innate emotional wiring, as socialized by moderate stoical resilience, instead of trying to live like a block of stone, or a lump of wood, then you have to read this book: Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes: the case against RE&CBT***)

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Anger, anxiety, depression, and nutrition and physical exercise, imageUnlike the rational and cognitive therapists, I accept that I am an emotional being first and last, with some degree of capacity to think and reason – though my so called thinking and reasoning can never be separated from my perceiving and feeling.  So I am not so much a ‘thinking being’ as I am a ‘perfinking being’ – where perfinking involves perceiving-feeling-thinking all in one grasp of the brain-mind. (And I am a body-brain-mind in a social environment, and my approach to diet and exercise is just as important as my approach to philosophy.  See How to Control Your Anger, Anxiety and Depression, using nutrition and physical exercise.***)

New ways of coping with adversity

In dealing with my own adversity, involving the ‘death’ of my book-index, I think, (meaning, I now assume that), without any conscious awareness of what I was doing, I followed a pattern that I had used with a male client who had been betrayed by his lover/partner, who had had an affair with a near neighbour.

Let me now review that case, so we can understand my moderate stoical approach.

Instead of telling this client, regarding his partner’s infidelity:

  1. “It should be the way it is!” (This is the REBT – Extreme Stoical – approach! Think how insensitive that is!)

I also avoided telling him:

  1. “It isn’t awful!” – (Because it obviously was awful, according to any reasonable dictionary definition! And also, that was precisely what it felt like to him – awful! And the dictionary definitions that I’ve consulted say that ‘awful’ means ‘very bad’ or ‘very unpleasant’ – which this experience undoubtedly was!)

And I did not resort to telling him:

  1. “You certainly can stand this kind of abuse!” (Enough already!)

Instead, I listened sympathetically.  I knew he was suffering, and in a stressed state.  I knew he was locked into a deep grieving process.  And grief is not pathological!  It’s not inappropriate!  It serves a very important function; and the way to manage grief is to stay with it; to feel it fully; and to let it take it’s course.  (See Chapter 5 [Sections 5.10 and 5.11] of Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes.***)

Grief is an innate ‘affect’, or basic emotion, which is further refined in the family of origin.  Grief is implicated in the attachment process between mother and baby; and is clearly related to the map/territory problem.  We humans build up a map of our social experience; and every significant person and thing is represented on our inner map of our social/emotional world.  When somebody to whom we are close either abandons us, or dies (which comes to the same thing!) there is now a serious discrepancy between the map and the territory.  The inner reality and the outer reality. And it takes a long time to bring our inner maps up to date.  In my experience, it will most often take up to eighteen months for a healthy updating of a person’s inner map when they lose their partner through divorce or death. (But bear in mind that the Berkeley Growth Study showed that “…ego-resilient adults come from homes with loving, patient, intelligent, competent, integrated mothers, where there is free interchange of problems and feelings (Seligman et al., 1970…” And “ego-brittle persons, by contrast, come from homes that are conflictual, discordant, and lack any philosophical or intellectual emphasis…” (Cook, 1993, Levels of Personality).

Knowing what I know about grief – that it requires time: I did not try to send any ‘solutions’ to this client!  There are none, in this kind of grief about loss situation.

I did not offer any advice, for at least three-quarters of the session.

I showed that I felt for my client; so visibly that he would ‘feel felt’! 

I also communicated non-verbally that it is okay to grieve; it’s normal to grieve when we have lost a significant other person, or even a significant possession, like a career, a home, or whatever.

Wounded cat 2Right near the end of the session, I told him:

“Imagine you are a wounded cat.  Take yourself off somewhere quiet, and rest, and recuperate.  And lick your wounds (metaphorically).  And take very good care of your needs, for food, and rest, sleep, and withdrawal from the world for a while. And allow time to pass, like a wounded cat would!”

This man did exactly what I suggested, and three weeks later he was back in a more resilient state. He had found a way to ‘square the circle’ – while resting and sleeping.  He had got over the worst of his grief, though he was still understandably raw. He and his ex-partner had been the best of friends for many years; and he had eventually found a way to forgive her; and to preserve the friendship.  The sex-love aspect of their relationship was at an end, but they were able to be friends, and that was a great comfort to him.

I congratulated him on finding his own solution to a difficult problem, and I commiserated with him about his loss of his love object.  But I also celebrated with him the fact that he had salvaged an important friendship.

(What this client was doing, while licking his wounds, like a wounded cat, was what I call ‘completing his experience’, instead of jumping over it.  In this case, he was ‘completing his feelings of grief’. I have written a paper on Completing Traumatic Experiences, which anybody can acquire via PayPal.***)

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If you want to get a feeling for this  concept of ‘completion’ – accepting – or ‘allowing to be’ – I could do a lot worse than to quote a famous statement by the American playwright, Arthur Miller.  Miller was just 23 when the second world war broke out, and 25 when the Americans joined the war.  My understanding is that he was sent to Europe to fight, and that his experiences of war in Europe wounded him deeply.  He may also have been carrying other kinds of ‘existential wounds’, or psychological problems from his family of origin.  Anyway, in this quotation, he is talking about the impossibility of finding salvation outside of oneself, and about the way in which life suddenly shifts from safe and secure known territory, to something horrendous:

“I think it is a mistake”, he wrote, “to ever look for hope outside of one’s self.  One day the house smells of fresh bread, the next of smoke and blood.  One day you faint because the gardener cuts his finger off, within a week you’re climbing over corpses of children bombed in a subway. What hope can there be if that is so? I tried to die near the  end of the war.  The same dream returned each night until I dared not go to sleep and grew quite ill.  I dreamed I had a child, and even in the dream I saw it was my life, and it was an idiot, and I ran away.  But it always crept onto my lap again, clutched at my clothes.  Until I thought,  If I could kiss it, whatever in it was my own, perhaps I could sleep.  And I bent to its broken face, and it was horrible … but I kissed it.  I think one must finally take one’s life in one’s arms”. (Arthur Miller, quoted in Baran, 2003: 365 Nirvana Here and Now, page 307).

And that is what ‘completion’ is: taking your life in your arms; accepting reality as it is; allowing the unchangeable to be!

This can also be expressed like this:

“When we truly hate what’s happening, our instinct is to flee from it like a house on fire.  But if we can learn to turn around and enter that fire, to let it burn all our resistance away, then we find ourselves arising from the ashes with a new sense of power and freedom”.  (Raphael Cushnir, quoted in Josh Baran, 2003, page 14).

But already we are heading into problems here, since these two quotations can be interpreted in both moderate and extreme forms.  A moderate interpretation would say, if you cannot change your life, you will benefit from accepting it exactly the way it is.  An extreme way will simply opt for saying you should accept it the way it is, disregarding the potential for changing it for the better.  There is a core of realistic acceptance to the moderate approach, and a core of sado-masochistic dehumanization to the extreme interpretation.

The other problem here is that there is a difference between a philosophy of life which is normally passed on through an oral tradition, to initiates who are readied for the new insight.  That is to say, they are ready morally, and in terms of character development, for the new revelation.  For example, take this quotation from Native American wisdom:

“Every struggle, whether won or lost, strengthens us for the next to come.  It is not good for people to have an easy life.  They become weak and inefficient when they cease to struggle.  Some need a series of defeats before developing the strength and courage to win a victory”.  (Victorio, Mimbres Apache: Quoted in Helen Exley, The Song of Life).

Quite clearly, this quotation could be used to justify political oppression.  “We’re doing the poor and downtrodden a favour”, the neo-liberals could say, all over the world today.  “We’re helping to strengthen them by defeating and crushing them!”  Indeed, versions of this kind of argumentation have already been used by right-wing ideologues; and this very quotation by Victorio could be used to defend the expropriation of the Native American tribes’ traditional tribal lands, and their confinement to ‘reservations’ (or ‘Bantustans’).

People should, clearly, not allow themselves to be tricked into feeling they have to be more Stoical than they absolutely need to be. And we should all hold on to the right to be morally outraged and politically active in the face of oppression and exploitation!

Furthermore, we have to ask this question: Is Victorio right to say people are strengthened by struggle?  It seems they might be, if they have a ‘learned optimism’ perspective.  But if they have a ‘learned helplessness’ perspective, from previous defeats, then they are only going to become more defeatist and passive as a result of being subjected to more oppression or difficulty. (See Martin Seligman on Learned Helplessness).

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Back to my cuckolded client:

With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that I could not have asked this client – let’s call him Harry – to go away and process his grief in private; to complete his experience of loss, over and over and over again – unless I had already taught him a moderately stoical philosophy of life, combined with a sense of optimism and hope – of self-efficacy, and the possibility of positive change.  And that I had done, about two years earlier, when he was struggling with problems of social conflict.  At that time, I introduced Harry to my Six Windows Model, which is derived from moderate Stoicism and moderate Buddhism.

And it should also be noted that, resilience is linked to family of origin.  Some families produce children who are resilient and some produce children who are fragile.  So I had to deal with Harry’s family of origin problems, about a year before I taught him the Six Windows Model.  At that earlier time, I focused on my relationship with him; how to provide him with a secure base; how to re-parent him, so he could feel secure in his relationship with me, so he could then generalize that feeling to his valued, close relationships.

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Conscious processing of traumatic events

Of course, it is not possible to make much progress in terms of personal development, or recovery from childhood trauma, unless we engage in some form of talk therapy (or writing therapy). The ‘wounded cat’ process will only take us so far. And especially if you want to accelerate the healing process, you need to work on your traumatic memories, and to process and digest them.

I did just that, in a couple of early pieces of writing therapy that I completed; one about my story of origins; and one about my relationship with my mother. I have since packaged those two stories, with some introductory and commentary material, in the form of an eBook. The title is this: Healing the Heart and Mind: Two examples of writing therapy stories, plus relective analysis. You can find out some more about those stories here: https://ecent-institute.org/writing-therapeutic-stories/

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My crashed index

So how does this relate to my adverse experience of having my book-index crash and have to be written off; and having to start all over again, from scratch?

Firstly, I was numbed by the experience: for minutes, or even hours.  It was a significant, symbolic loss.  A loss of face.  A loss of my self-concept as a highly efficient and effective author/ editor/ publisher.  It was also a significant material loss, of labour-time that was now down the drain!  And I had to face to discomfort anxiety of contemplating starting all over again, from scratch, to do this long, boring, tedious task of rebuilding this index, word by word, phrase by phrase, page number by page number.

Cover444Secondly, I wanted to jump over the experience, and to get right on to starting to construct a new index. (I was, after all, just like Albert Ellis – (the creator of REBT [as a form of Extreme Stoicism]) – raised in a family that showed no sympathy for my pain and suffering (in this case, my sense of loss of face, and loss of my sense of self-efficacy, and discomfort anxiety about starting over).  But that desire, to jump over my feelings, was cruel and insensitive, and neglectful of my sensibilities.

And I can now see that my family script fitted very sell with REBT, when I first encountered it, in 1992, when I was going through a painful career crisis! That is to say, REBT fitted well with my extremely stoical family script!  REBT taught me to jump over my feelings about my career crisis – and to rationalize them away, so I would not have to deal with them!

However, thirdly, I jumped track from the appeal of an extreme Stoical denial of my pain, and moved to a ‘wounded cat’ position.  I stopped any attempt to immediately switch to constructing a new index.  I stayed with the sense of shock; of frustration; of loss and failure!

I allowed time for some non-conscious adjustment.  (This most likely involved some low-level grief work.  [Meaning the processing of feelings of loss]. I had lost something meaningful; valuable; and I had inherited a painful challenge up ahead: namely, the building of a new index, where the old one had ‘died’!)

It would take time for my inner map to be brought up to date; to come in line with the external reality.

And I found a way to salvage some good from this bad situation, by writing this blog post to help others to be moderately stoical when things go wrong in their lives; and not to buy into the extreme stoicism of REBT and much of CBT, which demands that we should jump over our negative experiences; we should dump the experience; and thereby to fail to learn from it; and to live our lives in a kind of anaesthetized state, instead of feeling the full range of positive and negative emotions which are the lot of a sensitive human being.

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Conclusion

DrJimCounselling002Some of our day-to-day experiences are awful – in the sense of being ‘very bad’, or ‘very unpleasant’.  It takes time to process such adversities, and we owe it to ourselves to take the time to process our emotions (like grief about losses, failures; anxiety about threats, dangers; anger about insults and threats to our self-esteem; and so on).

Extreme Stoicism demands that we pretend to be stones, or lumps of wood. That we pretend that we are not hurt by the things that hurt us!

It demands that we should deny that we are fleshy beings with feelings and needs.

But if we allow ourselves to be enrolled into such an unfeeling philosophy of life, we will miss the opportunity to heal our wounds – like a cat or other animal would.  We will end up denying our pain; failing to process it; and becoming deniers of other people’s pain – since we ‘cannot stand’ to hear of the pain of others, if we have unresolved pains of our own!

Unlike the extreme Stoicism of REBT, we in Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT) practice a much gentler form of moderate Stoicism and moderate Buddhism.  For example, to help myself deal with the crashed index adversity, I can use my own Six Windows Model, which begins like this:

  1. Life is difficult for all human beings, at least some of the time; and often much of the time; so why must it not be difficult for me today, with this crashed index? Quite clearly, this is ‘my karma’, and I will have to adjust to it (but not necessarily today; or tomorrow; but one day soon). I can allow myself to take the time to process this difficulty, as an inevitability, and to gradually adjust to it; and then, and only then, will I bounce back!
  2. Life is going to be much less difficult if I pick and choose sensibly and realistically. Therefore, I should not choose to have my old index be magically fixed; and the problem to disappear! Instead, I choose to take a break; to rest and recover. After all, it happened on Friday, and it is now just Sunday!  And most people take Saturday and Sunday off anyway!  So even if it takes another couple of days to adjust and recover, I am going to choose sensibly.  I will be ready to re-start this uphill climb when I am ready.  Two days; three; four or five?  Who knows?  But I am going to take my time, and allow myself to feel whatever I feel in the meantime.

That is just a sample of the first two windows of E-CENT. To find out about the other 4 windows of the six windows model, you can get a copy via PayPal:

Re-framing problems, 6 windows modelE2 (Paper 3) The 6 Windows Model…  Available from PayPal, for just £3.99 GBP. Please send me my copy of  The 6 Windows Model pamphlet.***)

This (Six Windows model philosophy) is a million miles from the insensitivity of REBT – which is most often practised in an Extreme Stoical way.

This is also a few thousand miles from mainstream CBT, which would insist that my ‘problem’ is caused by my ‘thoughts’ about it.

This is not true.

The loss of my index is a real adversity, which any sane human being would lament and feel the loss of; feel the pain of its loss; feel the adversity of having to start all over again, or just feel like giving up and quitting!

My problem is not caused by my feeling.  My feelings are mainly caused by my experience.

Or, to be more precise:

The primary cause of my upset feelings right now is the failure of my IT package, which screwed up the digital links between actual page numbers, on the one hand, and the page numbers listed in the index entries, on the other.

The secondary cause is my need to get that book out sooner rather than later; which is also a real need, dictated by something other than my ‘mere thoughts’.

The tertiary cause of my feelings, is the history of my experiences of dealing with adversities. That history is recorded in my body-brain-mind.

And so on.

So please do not jump over your own feelings.  Stay with them.  Digest and complete them, and watch them disappear, leaving a stronger, more sensitive, and more human ‘You’ behind! 🙂

That’s all for today.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

01422 843 629

drjwbyrne@gmail.com

~~~

Postscript: Monday morning, 12th February 2018

I decided last night to adopt the ‘wounded cat’ position regarding the stress arising out of my sense of loss of my book index (involving weeks of work lost; and weeks of recovery work to engage in! And some loss of self-esteem around self-efficacy and productivity!)  I clocked off work at 7.00 pm last evening; and I made an omelette salad for tea; and we sat down to watch a cop show (‘Endeavour’) on TV at 8.00 pm.  We went to bed about 10.30, and I decided to have a lie-in in the morning, in keeping with my ‘wounded cat’ position.

I got up late this morning, had chunky vegetable soup (or stew) for breakfast – homemade (which I created at 4.30 am, when I was up briefly). Then I read three quotations from a book of Zen quotes; and meditated for 30 minutes.

Then I stood up to do my Chi Kung exercises (which normally take 20 minutes to complete).  At that point in time, I had the thought, which just bubbled up from my (rested) non-conscious mind: “Perhaps I can salvage the Index, if I can find out what went wrong with the page numbering, and go back to an earlier draft, and fix the page numbering!”

This seemed like a long shot, but it paid off!  I went to my office – at the end of exercising time – and investigated the possibilities.

And I have now salvaged the index, and saved myself weeks of work in rebuilding it from scratch.

And this was only possible because I acted like a ‘wounded cat’ for a few hours, instead of ‘jumping over the problem’, as advised by Albert Ellis and Epictetus and many CBT theorists!

Long live the ‘wounded cat’ position! (But do not try to use it with somebody who has not yet learned a moderate Stoic form of coping – like the Six Windows Model.  And also investigate whether there are family of origin problems leading to fragility, which have to be fixed before the windows model can be usefully taught).

Best wishes,

Jim

~~~

Postscript No.2: It never rains…

But my relief from stress did not last long…

Of course, it was a great relief to realize that I could salvage my book index, and it seemed likely that it would not take many days to fix it up and make it good enough for purpose.

Then it just so happened that I needed to look up some concept in our recently published book – How to Control Your Anger, Anxiety and Depression, using nutrition and physical activity.  I went to the index, looked up the page reference, and went to that page.  It was not there.  So I did some checking, and, nightmare of nightmares, that index was also corrupted.

This was a huge shock, because I had worked so hard on that index, and talked it up as a significant aspect of the book – the usefulness of the index!

So, to say the least, I was embarrassed.  And anxious that this situation might undermine my credibility with future potential buyers of my (our) books. These two emotional states – and especially my desire to be free of them, when I was not free of them – was very stressful.

Part of me wanted to respond with the complaint that “It never rains but it pours!”  But that would be too bleak a viewpoint – comparable to Werner Erhard’s view that “Life is just one goddamned thing after another!”  The problem with these two statements is this: they could be taken in a defeatist way to mean it’s all too much; too difficult; and therefore demoralizing and defeating.

And part of my problem was this: I wanted to be over the embarrassment; beyond the anxiety; clear of the problem.  But it is patently impossible to be “over the embarrassment” when one is embarrassed!  And it is equally impossible to be “beyond the anxiety” when on is immersed in it!

So now I was floundering, and spinning out of control.  I reached for a Zen quote, from Gay Hendricks, which talks about ‘giving up hope’.  Perhaps that was the solution: to give up any hope of being beyond the anxiety, and free from the embarrassment?!?  This is what Gay Hendricks writes:

“If you give up hope, you will likely find your life is infinitely richer. Here’s why: When you live in hope, it’s usually because you’re avoiding reality.  If you hope your partner will stop drinking, aren’t you really afraid he or she won’t?  Aren’t you really afraid to take decisive action to change the situation?  If you keep hoping the drinking will stop, you get to avoid the rally hard work of actually handling the situation effectively…” (Gay Hendricks, in Josh Baran (2003) – 365 Nirvana Here and Now: Living every moment in enlightenment).

For me to hope that this problem would go away – or resolve itself – would be even crazier than somebody hoping their partner would give up drinking alcohol.  Why? Because this published index is a fixed reality, which has no capacity to correct itself!  And nobody else has the power or need or responsibility to correct it.

This caused me to revert to the ‘wounded cat’ position, in terms of living in the embarrassment and anxiety; and not trying to get rid of it.  I stayed with the bad feelings, not knowing what to do about it.  This also allowed me to non-consciously process the problem, and about 36 hours later I came up with an action plan to revise the index for the Diet and Exercise book, and post it online so it can be downloaded by people who have already bought the book.  So I set about doing that, and it is now posted online

at: https://abc-counselling.org/revised-index-for-diet-and-exercise-book/

in the following format, online:

Revised index – downloadable 

Final corrected Index 14XXX001

In November 2017, we published a new book titled,

How to Control Your Anger, Anxiety and Depression, Using nutrition and physical activity

by Renata Taylor-Byrne and Jim Byrne.

Unfortunately, an error crept into the index, after it had had its final proof-reading.  This resulted in all the page references in the index being exactly 8 pages lower than they should have been.

We have now tracked this error down and corrected it, and, if you bought a copy of that first edition of the book, then please download a revised index from the link below, and print it off.  We are deeply sorry for this technical error, and we are willing to make appropriate amends by providing the corrected, downloadable index.

Download the corrected index by clicking this link.***

PS: And if you feel aggrieved by the error in the original copy of the book, and you bought it in paperback from Amazon, then we are willing to send you a free gift – of a PDF document on the science of sleep – if you email dr.byrne@ecent-institute.org with the receipt number which you received from Amazon.

Thanking you for your understanding.

Sincerely,

 

Jim

 

Dr Jim Byrne – Director – E-CENT Publications – February 2018

~~~

 

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

~~~

Post Traumatic Stress Solutions

Blog Post No.155 (was 119)

Posted on 4th May 2017 (Originally posted on Saturday 21st February 2015)

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: A counsellor blogs about ‘Living in the Present’… And Processing the Past!

Copyright © Jim Byrne, 2015

~~~

A fly in my ointment

drjim-counsellor9About one week ago, I got up, ate my breakfast, meditated and did my physical exercise, as normal.  But something went wrong.

Just before I mediate, I am in the habit of reading some ‘thought for the day’ from a Zen source.  On that occasion, I read a quote from Chögyam Trungpa.[1]

This is what it said:

“…Once you begin to deal with a person’s whole case history, trying to make it relevant to the present, the person begins to feel that he has no escape, that his situation is hopeless, because he cannot undo his past.  He feels trapped by his past with no way out.  This kind of treatment is extremely unskilled.  It is destructive because it hinders involvement with the creative aspect of what is happening now, what is here, right now…”

This quotation was concerning for me, because it seems to support Dr Albert Ellis’s advice to “forget the god-awful past” – which I have rejected several times in recent years, in various pieces of my writing.

Dealing with tensions and contradictions

As a principled practitioner and researcher, I therefore felt obliged to address this statement by Trungpa; to investigate it; to see how it is constructed; and to come to some kind of resolution of the tension between Trungpa/Ellis, on the one hand, and myself on the other.

front-cover7I was very busy during that period, for perhaps the past two weeks – with much of my time going into editing my revised autobiographical novel.  (See Metal Dog – Long Road Home***)

Yesterday, I completed the current editing task, and today I wrote a little 29-page paper on the question of which is supportable: the suggestion of ‘forgetting the past’; or the suggestion of ‘processing the past’.

Please see: Personal history and the mind of the individual counselling client. The (frequent) importance of processing the past in counselling and therapy.***  

In this little blog post, I want to take Trungpa’s quote apart to see what it is made of.  Let us begin with the first element:

“…Once you begin to deal with a person’s whole case history, trying to make it relevant to the present, the person begins to feel that he has no escape, that his situation is hopeless, because he cannot undo his past. …”

This statement is:

(a) Not in line with my clinical experience. I could, given the time, write up lots of my client cases to show that many of my clients experienced dramatic levels of relief once they had finished processing some past, traumatic experience.

(b) Misleading.  The second clause – “…trying to make (the past) relevant to the present…” – is not a therapeutic task that has ever been proposed by any of the major therapists that I have studied.  This is either a misunderstanding or a red herring presented by Trungpa.

(c) Unsupported.  Which person “begins to feel that he has no escape”?  Certainly not any of the many individuals that I have helped to process their old traumas.  They have a very specific form of escape.

(1) They find and confront the troublesome past experience; and, simultaneously:

(2) They find a way to re-frame that old experience, so it does not seem so daunting; painful; impossible to bear.

(3) Once they have digested/re-framed the old, troublesome experience, they can let it go, and move on with the rest of their lives.

See my paper on ‘Completing your experience of difficult events, perceptions and painful emotions’.[2]

(d) Unclear.  Who is this person who “feels trapped by his past with no way out”?  Certainly not me.  (See my papers on processing my own childhood traumas, in Byrne [2009][3] and Byrne [2010][4]).

(e) Not about any known therapy.  The process which Trungpa describes, which he says “is destructive” is not a process that corresponds to any form of psychotherapy that I have ever encountered.  There is nothing to stop any client in CENT counselling from being in touch with the present moment, immediately before, and immediately after, their attempt to complete and re-frame an old experience.

An additional argument…

Trungpa goes on, in the next paragraph, to say: “As soon as we try to unravel the past, then we are involved with ambition and struggle in the present, not being able to accept the present moment as it is”.

Again, this does not correspond to my experience.  Whenever I have worked on processing old childhood traumas, I was perfectly able to accept the present moment as it was.  (I have been meditating since 1980, and striving to ‘live in the present’).

Let us look at one of my recent cases.  It should be of interest to Trungpa that I worked with one woman who had a hugely traumatic family problem dating from her childhood (when aged about seven years onwards), which we reviewed, processed, and I helped her to reframe it – in just three sessions of 45 minutes of counselling.  At the end of this process, she declared that she was ‘done’ – but that she would join a Meditation Group and continue to develop her sense of having been ‘washed clean’ by our therapy work together!

Certainly it is true (as Trungpa says) that processing the past involves struggles, but they are struggles that are well worth undertaking and completing, because they allow you to live more fully in the present when you have burned out the old hurts and pains in the (largely non-conscious) basement of your mind.

I have written an eBook on how to face up to traumatic memories of past experiences, and to process them, digest them, and burn them out, so they can be filed away in an inert file in long-term memory, from which they can cause you no further disturbance.  Her are the details:

NTS eBook No.5 – Facing and Defeating your Emotional Dragons: How to process and eliminate undigested pain from your past, by Jim Byrne

~~~

Finale

It may well be that every philosophy of life contains its strengths and weaknesses.  Trungpa and Ellis are illustrations of that hybrid nature of philosophies of life.

So, by all means, try to live in the present moment; try to engage in ongoing mindfulness as you go about your day.  But if you are troubled by emotional (or physical) symptoms which may be connected to childhood, or early adult life trauma, then by all means engage in the struggle that is required to process and re-frame those traumas, so you can free your energies for a more enjoyable life in the present moment.

~~~

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Jim Byrne – Doctor of Counselling

ABC Counselling and Psychotherapy Division

Email: drjwbyrne@gmail.com

~~~

[1] Chögyam Trungpa, The situation of nowness, in: Josh Baran, 365 Nirvana: Here and Now.  Element/HarperColins.  2003.

[2] Byrne, J. (2011) Completing your experience of difficult events, perceptions and painful emotions.  CENT Paper No.13.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy.  Available online: https://ecent-institute.org/e-cent-articles-and-papers/ 

[3] Byrne, J. (2009) A journey through models of mind.  The story of my personal origins.  CENT Paper No.4.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT. Available online: https://ecent-institute.org/e-cent-articles-and-papers/

[4] Byrne, J. (2010) The Story of Relationship: Or coming to terms with my mother (and father).  CENT Paper No.10.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT.  Available online: https://ecent-institute.org/e-cent-articles-and-papers/

~~~

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.

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

That’s all for today.

Best wishes,

Jim

Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

~~~

[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!)

~~~

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.com 

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…***

~~~

Jim’s book on Emotive-Cognitive Counselling

Blog Post No. 142

By Dr Jim Byrne

Written on 15th February 2016 – Posted here on 6th May

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: Understanding depression; how to accurately rate your problems…

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2016

~~~

Introduction

DrJimByrne2.JPGA few days ago, I finishing Appendix F on 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.

~~~

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 socialised-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 unreasonable 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 generalise from particular experiences. And we also have lots of early experiences which are non-narrativised, 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.

Amazon links to buy this paperback book:

Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com Amazon in Canada
 Amazon in Germany Amazon in Spain Amazon in Italy
Amazon in Mexico Amazon in France  Amazon Netherlands
 Amazon in in Brazil Amazon in India Amazon in Japan
Amazon in Australia

~~~

Get your eBook copy now, from any one of the following Amazon outlets:

Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Amazon in Canada
Amazon in Germany Amazon in Spain Amazon Australia
Amazon in Italy Netherlands Amazon India

~~~

In 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 ‘internalise’ as ‘models’).

Amazon links to buy this paperback book:

Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com Amazon in Canada
 Amazon in Germany Amazon in Spain Amazon in Italy
Amazon in Mexico Amazon in France  Amazon Netherlands
 Amazon in in Brazil Amazon in India Amazon in Japan
Amazon in Australia

~~~

Get your eBook copy now, from any one of the following Amazon outlets:

Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Amazon in Canada
Amazon in Germany Amazon in Spain Amazon Australia
Amazon in Italy Netherlands Amazon India

~~~

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

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

Six-windows-model3

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.

~~~

Amazon links to buy this paperback book:

Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com Amazon in Canada
 Amazon in Germany Amazon in Spain Amazon in Italy
Amazon in Mexico Amazon in France  Amazon Netherlands
 Amazon in in Brazil Amazon in India Amazon in Japan
Amazon in Australia

~~~

Get your eBook copy now, from any one of the following Amazon outlets:

Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Amazon in Canada
Amazon in Germany Amazon in Spain Amazon Australia
Amazon in Italy Netherlands Amazon India

~~~

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.

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 the inappropriate quality comes out of our unrealistic demands about life and experience, and our tendency to catastrophise”.  Dr Jim Byrne

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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.

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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 optimise 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!

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However:

  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.

Exaggerated-problem.JPGReally 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 or events 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.

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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.

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I hope you find this book both interesting and helpful.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

And: The Institute for E-CENT Counselling

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com or dr.byrne@ecent-institute.org

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