HP Ex5: Appendices A-D of Holistic Counselling in Practice

Homepage Extension No.5: Appendices A to D of Holistic Counselling in Practice

Copyright Jim Byrne (c) 2017

On this page, you will find brief extracts from the first four (of eight) appendices from our book on Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT):

Appendix A:  Frame Theory

A.1 Introduction

I mentioned earlier that the concept of ‘frames’, on the one hand, and the concept of ‘schemas’, on the other, are different ways of describing how we have our experiences stored in long-term memory.  It might be more accurate to say that sometimes they are used interchangeably, and sometimes they are used in distinct ways.

You might now be wondering how frames compare with scripts and schemas.

Frames, schemas (or schemata) and scripts are all terms used in cognitive science and cognitive psychology to describe the format of stored experiences in long term memory.  (MacLachlan and Reid, 1994[1]; Eysenck and Keane, 2000[2]).  As in any area of academic study, there are different paradigms (or camps and groupings, or schools of thought) with different understandings.  And sometimes, as I said above, the same people use these terms to mean the same thing, on one occasion, and to mean different things, on another.  For examples:

For Eysenck and Keane (2000) some confusion exists.  In their glossary, they define a ‘frame’ like this:

Frame: an organized packet of information about the world, events, or people, stored in long-term memory (also called a schema).”

However, in their main text they say:

“The term schema is used to refer to well integrated chunks of knowledge about the world, events, people, and actions.  Scripts and frames are relatively specific kinds of schemas.  Scripts deal with knowledge about events and consequences of events.  Thus, for example, Schank and Abelson (1977)[3] referred to a restaurant script, which contains information about the usual sequence of events involved in going to a restaurant to have a meal.  In contrast, frames deal with knowledge about the properties of objects and locations”. (Page 352).

Needless to say, I do not agree with this distinction, as I see frames, scripts and schemas as attempts to explain – or infer – what is going on in the mind of an individual when they use their past experience to comprehend and respond to their current environmental stimuli.  These schemas and/or frames are probably mainly ‘narrative elements’ or ‘forms of story’ – though in the beginning of our lives we form lots of non-narrativized memories.  For example, Bruner (1968) argued that we begin by forming enactive memories, or memories of physical sensations, like being handled by mother. Later we form iconic memories, or memories of seeing things (like mother’s face).  (See Bruner and Vygotsky, in Wood, 1988/1994)[4].

Furthermore, I am a therapist first and an academic second, and so my aim in life is to identify strategies and perspectives that help to change the world of the client, and not just to understand it.

A.2 Frames as used in E-CENT

Frames seem to me to have certain advantages over scripts and schemas in helping to direct the mind of the client towards possibilities of changing perspectives on their lives in general, and not just on “objects and locations”.  One student who piloted my procrastination programme (which is based on frame theory), said he found my use of the concept of frames to be particularly helpful as they clarified for him that he had control over his perceptions, and that he could change his behaviour by changing the frames through which he was looking at his world.

As opposed to Eysenck and Keane definition of frames and schemas, I like Eric Lunzer’s description of Frame Theory (in Lunzer, 1989)[5]: “The concept of cognitive frames and their role in the interpretation of experience is one which was first evolved within the context of artificial intelligence theory as a way of accounting for the fact that a finite system like the brain can recognize an infinite variety of situations by assigning each new complex to some familiar category, which already incorporates a necessary structure and an equally necessary flexibility.”

This is helpful because in E-CENT we are looking at habitual responses to situations, and how to change those habitual responses by changing the Frame through which they are being perceived and interpreted.

Lunzer continues: “The construct (or concept of ‘frame’) has been fruitfully applied to the interpretation of visual scenes, which change in lawful ways as a function of movements of the viewer and the object (Minsky, 1975[6]), and to the interpretation of spoken and written discourse (Rumelhart and Ortony, 1977[7]; Schank and Abelson, 1977[8]).”

And it is in this way that we use the concept of ‘frame’ in E-CENT.  We use it to describe the (normally non-conscious) intervening process – between an event and a response – which involves the interpretation of spoken (and written) discourse, and human actions.

Lunzer continues: “A frame is a network of related elements (which can be thought of as ideas), which has the added characteristic that not only the elements but also the links among them are distinctive and defined.  If you have a frame, you know what goes with what, and also how”.

When Lunzer says our frames allow us to know what goes with what, and how, he is not implying that our frames are ‘accurate representations of reality’, nor that they are normally conscious. What he means is that, non-consciously, we ‘know’ that when Colombo (the famous American TV detective) arrives, there will be a cigar stub, a crumpled overcoat, some fumbled questions, and razor sharp detective work.  When Christmas is mentioned, there will be turkey, crackers, Christmas cake, decorations, holly and ivy, presents, wrapped in multi-coloured paper, parties, alcohol, hangovers, too much food, family joy and/or family despair. In short, we have a nested network of concepts/inferences linked to each of our frames, below the level of conscious awareness, based on past cumulative- interpretive experiences.

Therefore, for me, frames are results of our objective/subjective and socialized experiences, which means they exist within some social ideology, and are ‘relative takes’ rather than ‘absolute facts’.  They exist as…

…End of extract.

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Appendix B: E-CENT Emotional Needs Assessment Checklist

According to the Human Givens approach[9], we have physical needs – like warmth, shelter, sleep, food and drink.  And we have emotional needs, which include the nine listed below.

Guidelines: Please read the list of nine emotional areas of need, below, and then – thinking about for the first five years of your life – give yourself a ranking between 1 and 7, where 1 = Not met; and 7 = Fully met..

(1) Security – the need to feel safe

(2) A sense of autonomy and control over your life;

(3) Receiving and giving attention;

(4) Friendship, love, intimacy;

(5) The sense of belonging to a group;

(6) Personal space and privacy;

(7) A sense of status;

(8) A sense of competence and achievement;

(9) A sense of meaning and purpose.

~~~

You might find it helpful to do this scoring assessment four times, as follows

1(a) For your childhood, at home;

1(b) For your childhood, in school;

2(a) For your adulthood, at home;

2(b) For your adulthood, in work/college/business/etc.

See the emotional needs assessment form, below.

~~~

…End of extract.

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Appendix C: The E-CENT Desensitization Process

By Dr Jim Byrne, April 2016

C.1 Introduction

In the world of counselling, and psychotherapy, desensitization most often means a gradual reduction in the level of emotion-arousal of a client, following repeated exposure to a strongly negative stimulus, such as an angry dog, a flight in an aeroplane, travelling in a lift (or elevator), on an escalator (or moving staircase), a dental or medical procedure, and so on.

Individuals often become overly-sensitive to, and even phobic (or fearful) about, experiences that hurt them, or harm them, or seem likely to hurt or harm them.

There are two main schools of thought about how to help such individuals, especially as influenced by behaviour therapy.

Some counsellors and psychotherapists think that sudden and total exposure to the feared or hated stimulus – which is called ‘flooding’ – is most effective; but in E-CENT counselling we consider that flooding is like throwing a person, who is afraid of water, into the deep end of the pool, in the hope that they will somehow learn to swim!

By contrast, we practice ‘gradual desensitization’, otherwise known a systematic desensitization.

There are four levels of desensitization which we address during our gradual process, beginning from the least serious, and proceeding upwards to the most serious, or most traumatic, as follows:

C.2 Illustration

For example, in dealing with a man who was harmed by a surgical procedure in the recent past, but who needs to return to hospital, as an in-patient, for essential medical help, we would proceed like this:

…End of extract.

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Appendix D: How to rate your problems appropriately

Copyright © Dr Jim Byrne, May 2016

D.1 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 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!

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.

D.2 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 or events or people in your environment exert more pressure upon you than you can handle at that time.  (Examples would be: (a) when your workload is steadily increased, in a period when you are not getting enough sleep!  Or (b), when somebody begins an unreasonable argument with you when your blood-sugar level is low [because you have not eaten anything for several hours]). 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 4]; and so on).

(b) You are 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[10].

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.

D.3 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. And of the unrealistic attempt to avoid the unavoidable.

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!

…End of extract.

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Endnotes

[1] MacLachlan, G. and Reid, I. (1994) Framing and Interpretations.  Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.  Pages 10-14.

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

[3] Schank, R.C. and Abelson, R.P. (1977) Scripts, plans, goals and understanding.  Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.

[4] Wood, D. (1988/1994) How Children Think and Learn: the social contexts of cognitive development. Oxford: Blackwell.

[5] Lunzer, E. (1989) Cognitive development: Learning and the mechanisms of change.  In: Patricia Murphy and Bob Moon (eds) Developments in Learning and Assessment.  London: Hodder and Stoughton, in association with the Open University. Pages 29-30.

[6] Minsky, M. (1975) A framework for representing knowledge.  In: P. Winston (ed).  The Psychology of Computer Vision.  New York: McGraw-Hill.

[7] Rumelhart, D.E. and Ortony, A. (1977) The representation of knowledge in memory. In: R.C. Anderson, R.J. Spiro and W.E. Montague (eds), Schooling and the Acquisition of Knowledge.  Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 99-135.

[8] Schank, R.C. and Abelson, R.P. (1977) Scripts, plans, goals and understanding.  Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.

[9] Griffin, J. and Tyrrell, I. (2008) Release from Anger: A practical handbook.  Chalvington, East Sussex: HG Publishing.

[10] O’Beeve, D. (2015) Obedience and Revolt: Volume 1: Learning to Conform – (An autobiographical novel). Hebden Bridge: the Institute for E-CENT Publications.

Volume 1: Learning to Conform – (An autobiographical novel). Hebden Bridge: the Institute for E-CENT Publications.