Models of mind for counsellors

Updated on Thursday 25th April 2019.

Understanding the mind in counselling and psychotherapy

By Dr Jim Byrne

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Every counsellor and psychotherapist needs to update their model of the body-brain-mind of their counselling clients.

The human brain is the most complex entity in the known universe. The brain’s 100 billion cells (or neurons) are connected to each other my multiple connections, allowing for an infinite number of permutations of connections.

The mind arises, naturally, in each new baby, as a capacity to be aware, and a capacity to learn; supported by some innate urges and drives, including the urge to attach to a main carer; and the urges to seek pleasure and to avoid pain.  The mind is shaped by culture, interacting with biological urges and innate feelings.

Plato was one of the earliest theorists who tried to model the mind of the human being.  His model contained three strong urges, or inner powers – which were reason, will and appetite.  However, today, we know so much about the structures of the brain, and how the relate to the environment, that Plato cannot compete.  In his time, the nature of the brain was unknown!

Freud took Plato’s model and simplified it, but also – using his understanding of neurology – showed that it arose biologically, and then socially. Plato was aware of the role of education, but he thought that much more of who we become was already there before our education.  Freud had Locke and Hume to guide him in concluding we are essentially biological beings who are shaped by culture.  But he overemphasized the importance of biology over social experience.  Then, towards the end of his life, he began to correct that by beginning to pay more attention to the role of relationship.

Eric Berne simplified Freud’s model of mind, and showed how the Parent part of our personality comes from our actual parents; and the Child part of us is preserved throughout the whole of our lives, and often relied upon in choosing a response to a social situation.  And the Adult part of us was seen as a present time capacity to process information, relatively free from emotional affects.  However, Berne did not pay any attention to the split between the good and bad sides of those personality fragments.

Then along came Albert Ellis and oversimplified the whole process of modelling the mind, by claiming that the only thing that intervened between an environmental stimulus and an emotional-behavioural response was a Belief.  In other words he dumped the entire body of the human being, and left us with a model of mind which was disembodied.

Then, between 2003 and 2009, Jim Byrne added back the body to the models produced by Plato, Freud, Berne and Ellis, and showed that there are significant gaps in all of those models.  He filled in most of those gaps using the latest research from: neuroscience; affect regulation theory; attachment theory; and interpersonal neurobiology; including the writings of John Bowlby, Joseph LeDoux, Antonio Damasio, Allan Schore, Daniel Siegel, and many others.

What does the model of mind look like when you add back the body?

That is the ultimate subject of this new book by Dr Jim Byrne:

Understanding the human mind:

And how it relates to the body and the rest of the world

Understanding the mind of the counselling client is the first step towards being able to help.  Common sense models of mind tend to be misleading.  Psychological models, which are informed by the latest ideas from neuroscience, are much more reliable.

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The latest book by Dr Jim Byrne – (as at 9th February 2019) – is now available as an eBook, and as a paperback, from Amazon outlets around the world:

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The paperback cover

 

A counsellor reflects upon models of mind

 

Integrating the psychological models of Plato, Freud, Berne and Ellis

By

Dr Jim Byrne

Published by the Institute for E-CENT Publications;

In association with KDP-Amazon

2019

Copyright and publication details:

Copyright © Jim Byrne, 2019

Published by the Institute for Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT), at 27 Wood End, Keighley Road, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 8HJ, UK.

Telephone 44 01422 843 629.  Email: dr.byrne@ecent-institute.org

All rights reserved.

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Get your copy today:

This book is available in two formats – eBook and Paperback – from Amazon outlets.

The eBook version is available from the following Amazon links:

Amazon.com, US+ Amazon UK + Irl Amazon Germany
Amazon Spain Amazon Italy Amazon Netherlands
Amazon Japan Amazon Brazil Amazon Canada
Amazon Mexico Amazon Australia Amazon India

The paperback version can be bought from any of the following Amazon outlets:

US +: Amazon.com UK & Irl: Amazon.co.uk Germany: Amazon.de
France: Amazon.fr Italy: Amazon.it Spain: Amazon.es
Japan: Amazon.co.jp Amazon Amazon

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Preface

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Paperback front cover

This book was written with the interests and needs of counsellors and self-help enthusiasts in mind.

By the generic label, ‘counsellors’, I mean to indicate people in the following roles: counsellors, psychotherapists, certain types of coaches, psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, social workers, and so on.

The content will also be helpful for students of any of those disciplines, and also for self-help enthusiasts who want to understand themselves better, and to change their mental organization for the better.

My assumption is that a high proportion of counsellors cares deeply about helping their clients, for which purpose they hunt high and low for new, helpful models, techniques and strategies to help with the broad range of issues and problems that their clients bring to them.

This book involves a review of four of the most influential models of mind – or theories of human mental functioning – in the history of psychology. Those models were developed by:

– Plato (and we’ll take a quick look at Aristotle’s deviation);

– Sigmund Freud (and we’ll take a peek at Melanie Klein’s deviation);

– Eric Berne (who created Transactional Analysis, and the Parent-Adult-Child model); and:

– Albert Ellis (who created the ABC model of human disturbance).

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Get your copy today:

This book is available in two formats – eBook and Paperback – from Amazon outlets.

The eBook version is available from the following Amazon links:

Amazon.com, US+ Amazon UK + Irl Amazon Germany
Amazon Spain Amazon Italy Amazon Netherlands
Amazon Japan Amazon Brazil Amazon Canada
Amazon Mexico Amazon Australia Amazon India

The paperback version can be bought from any of the following Amazon outlets:

US +: Amazon.com UK & Irl: Amazon.co.uk Germany: Amazon.de
France: Amazon.fr Italy: Amazon.it Spain: Amazon.es
Japan: Amazon.co.jp Amazon Amazon

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Back cover
Paperback back cover

In addition to comparing and contrasting those four models against each other; I will also present my own innovations (which were influenced by a range of theorists, including those above; plus neuroscience; moderate Buddhism; moderate Stoicism; and more recent innovators, like Allan Schore [Affect regulation theory]; and Daniel Siegel [Interpersonal Neurobiology {IPNB}]).

By reviewing the main models of mind created by Plato, Freud, Berne and Ellis, I hope to throw up new possibilities for counsellors; new ways of thinking (and feeling) about the human condition; new concepts and models for action and reflection in the counselling room, and in running our lives.

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My experience of counselling, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis goes back to 1968, when I completed a partial Freudian analysis, to try to overcome my poor sense of social connection (or attachment), and my low level of emotional intelligence, arising out of my dysfunctional family of origin.

In 1977, I was introduced to the person-centred ideas of Carl Rogers; and two years later I began to study Eric Berne’s theory of Transactional Analysis.  I was then introduced to Gestalt therapy, by my partner, Renata.  And soon afterwards, in 1980, I began to study Zen Buddhism and Taoist philosophy; and to practice (almost) daily mediation.  At the same time, I began to practice Emile Coue’s system of ‘autogenic training’, which is a form of self-hypnosis, based on repeated affirmations. Then, in 1992, I began to study Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT); and I set up as a freelance REBT coach/ counsellor/ therapist in November 1998.  (My approach to counselling and therapy has since changed radically, and I now practice as an Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapist!)

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Thumbprint of whole cover

For a good number of years, in the eighties and nineties, all of those theories and models of mind and reality lay around in a jumble in my mind.  I occasionally wrestled with the idea that there must be a way to place them inside each other, like Russian Dolls; with one being ‘more fundamental’ than the others; but I failed to find any way to do this.

I then hypothesized that each theory is like a slice through ‘reality’, with characteristic ‘blade markings’, outline ‘shapes’, colourations, and so on; so that each theory is born with birthmarks contributed by its creator; and that they cannot easily be reconciled, one to the other.

In 2000-2003, I studied thirteen different systems of counselling and psychotherapy, as part of my diploma in counselling psychology and psychotherapy. In practice, I used all those models, experimentally, and eclectically, while trying to convince my supervisor that I was ‘fundamentally’ an REBT therapist.

Then, in 2005, the Albert Ellis Institute, in New York City imploded into a factional split, during which Albert Ellis was removed from the board of directors, and from his therapy work.

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Get your copy today:

This book is available in two formats – eBook and Paperback – from Amazon outlets.

The eBook version is available from the following Amazon links:

Amazon.com, US+ Amazon UK + Irl Amazon Germany
Amazon Spain Amazon Italy Amazon Netherlands
Amazon Japan Amazon Brazil Amazon Canada
Amazon Mexico Amazon Australia Amazon India

The paperback version can be bought from any of the following Amazon outlets:

US +: Amazon.com UK & Irl: Amazon.co.uk Germany: Amazon.de
France: Amazon.fr Italy: Amazon.it Spain: Amazon.es
Japan: Amazon.co.jp Amazon Amazon

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Dr-Jim-photo-cover002I spent two years trying to ‘rescue’ Albert Ellis from his former colleagues, without any success.  But in the process, I saw behind the curtains of the Institute, and what I saw shook my confidence in the philosophy of REBT.

I was particularly troubled by the lack of moral principle within REBT; such that the defenders of Albert Ellis (myself included) could not bring ourselves to utter these words: “They SHOULD NOT be treating Albert Ellis in this mean and unfair manner”.  We could not do that, because Albert Ellis’s REBT denied us the right to use words like ‘should’ and ‘must’.  And we were discouraged from raising ‘unfairness issues’ on pain of being labelled FB’s (F****** Babies!)

I was also surprised to find that senior REBTers, who had been practicing REBT, and teaching the theory for thirty or forty years, reverted to their pre-REBT ‘basic natures’ when subject to the stress of protracted interpersonal conflict – thus demonstrating that “REBT does not produce permanent change – even  in its most determined adherents!”

REBTers talk the talk of being extreme Stoics – “If I die, I die!” – but, when placed under intense pressure, I found that most senior members of the field – (who were visible to me during the 2005-2007 conflict at the Albert Ellis Institute) – could not walk the walk!

So the fantasy of being able to live the life of an Extreme Stoic was over for me.  We lived in the real world of pain and suffering, and limited personal resources (like courage and fearlessness!); and we had to protect ourselves from being ‘screwed’ by others!  We had to find a middle way between extreme Stoicism, on the one hand, and whining defeatism, on the other.

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This book arose out of a long journey of enquiry that I undertook between 2007 – when Dr Albert Ellis died – and 2017, when I published a comprehensive refutation of virtually the whole of the foundations of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)[i]. In the previous year, 2016, I published an introduction to my own alternative theory of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT), and that E-CENT book was then reissued in a cheaper format in 2019[ii].

In this present book, I have reviewed the models of mind of Plato (and Aristotle in passing); Sigmund Freud (and some post-Freudians); Eric Berne; and Albert Ellis. And I also present my own contribution to the creation of models of mind which could be beneficial for any and all counsellors, coaches, psychotherapists, psychologists, psychoanalysts and psychiatrists.  And also to students of those fields; plus keen self-help enthusiasts.

My hope is that many people will find mental peace, and more effective mental functioning, as a result of studying this book.

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Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Hebden Bridge, February 2019

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Footnotes from above

[i] Byrne, J. (2017) Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes: The case against Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (RE & CBT). Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT Publications.

[ii] Byrne, J. (2019) Holistic Counselling in Practice: An introduction to the theory and practice of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied-Narrative Therapy. Hebden Bridge: The Institute for E-CENT Publications.

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Part 1: Plato’s Tripartite Model of Mind

Introduction

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Plato’s tripartite model of the mind, or soul, is essentially quite simple.  In two of Plato’s dialogues, in which he features Socrates engaging in conversations with interested others, Plato mentions a model of the human ‘soul’ (or mind).  He sees the mind as being split between competing powers, like a charioteer striving to control two uncooperative horses.

The charioteer is the reasoning faculty in the individual.

The more materialistic ‘horse’ is an expression of our most basic appetites, or our appetitive self.

The third ‘horse’, or element, is a bit more complex, and will be explored below.

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Part 1 of this book consists of two chapters, below.

Chapter 1 explores Plato’s tripartite model in detail, including a brief comparison with the tripartite model of Transactional Analysis (TA).  (TA will be considered in detail in Part 3, Chapter 5).

And Chapter 2 mainly explores the parallels between Plato’s model and the model created by this present author in developing Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy.  But this chapter also looks in passing at Aristotle’s model of mind, and some other relevant comparisons.

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And here is the list of contents of Part 1:

The Contents of Part 1

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Get your copy today:

This book is available in two formats – eBook and Paperback – from Amazon outlets.

The eBook version is available from the following Amazon links:

Amazon.com, US+ Amazon UK + Irl Amazon Germany
Amazon Spain Amazon Italy Amazon Netherlands
Amazon Japan Amazon Brazil Amazon Canada
Amazon Mexico Amazon Australia Amazon India

The paperback version can be bought from any of the following Amazon outlets:

US +: Amazon.com UK & Irl: Amazon.co.uk Germany: Amazon.de
France: Amazon.fr Italy: Amazon.it Spain: Amazon.es
Japan: Amazon.co.jp Amazon Amazon

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