You may be curious about working with me – or just curious. And you may be curious about how I go about this therapy business. Well, it’s what I’m always curious about when it comes to other therapists/coaches/teachers etc. and you and I aren’t that different.
One of my many starting points was volunteering as a Lifeline telephone counselor for eight years – from 2005 to 2013- ish. As I often say, joining Lifeline was one of the smarter moves of my life.
We had three months of part-time counseling training before we got on the phones, and ongoing training and supervision after that.
The counseling training was based on Carl Roger’s client or person-centered therapy. The core premise was unconditional positive regard for the client. This means not necessarily accepting all the client’s behavior, but unconditionally accepting the client as someone worthy of love and belonging.
I get this may sound weird if you are unfamiliar with counseling concepts. But the concept is underpinned by a solid rationale. And that is that what is typically driving ‘bad’ behavior, and blocking ‘good’ behavior, are stressful feelings of unworthiness and shame.
Treating someone as if they are unconditionally worthy of love and belonging – as indeed we all are – can relieve this stress and shame, and help them become the person they want to be. Carl Roger’s coined the famous phrase:
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change
This may sound like touchy-feely waffle. However, these ‘simple’ (simple when you know how) counseling techniques are powerful. They changed how I thought and communicated.
And, over eight years at Lifeline, sometimes the power of these techniques to save lives, actually frightened me. It would be a mistake to underestimate the therapeutic power of communicating to someone that that they have worth and value.
I wrote about a few of my Lifeline experiences, you can click the links below to read them:
I decided not to kill myself after talking to you (aka what’s the nicest thing you can do for anyone)
But my Lifeline days left another legacy. These counseling tools worked for pretty much everyone. Because pretty much everyone had the same problems. The problems just varied in the details. Pretty soon I was thinking, “Why don’t we – the public – know about these powerful therapy tools!? Why don’t we know about these simple, powerful psychology techniques that have been around for decades – and in some cases centuries!?”
And that question started me on my quest of understanding why don’t we know this stuff. What’s blocking this vital information getting out to the public? And how can we reverse this?
In the meantime, I was also at university – studying psychology. Amongst the most valuable things I studied there was behavior science – or behavior modification. While the course didn’t focus much on everyday practical applications – it showed me how badly the public misunderstand key concepts that underpin habit change – such as motivation, self-control, rewards and punishment.
But, again, why didn’t the public know this stuff!? There seemed to be a systemic failure of mainstream psychology to get simple, life-changing (and habit!) changing information out to the public.
Like many therapists I’ve gathered psychology tools from a range of sub-disciplines. I studied hypnotherapy, and had some quite dramatic results with that. I often draw on key aspects of motivational interviewing (MI) – which is commonly used in drug and alcohol rehab.
People with substance abuse challenges are typically deeply conflicted about recovery. Key therapeutic aspects of MI include respect for autonomy (no one has to change – it’s a choice), evaluating pros and cons of different choices available, and gently drawing people’s attention to discrepancies between their stated core values and how they are actually behaving. For example, someone may say that their family is their key priority – yet not spend any quality time with them.
Somewhat to my despair, something has become increasingly obvious. Spirituality has slowly become a huge thing for me, starting around 2016. It’s become increasingly and annoyingly clear that at least part of my life purpose is REintegrating spirituality into psychology.
And the despair and the annoyance is due to the stigma around spirituality. It’s been amazing how – since I poked a foot out of the spiritual closet – how many people have told me they are also into spirituality. But they don’t mention it until I do. They come from mainstream corporate, science or construction backgrounds, and stay quiet about their spirituality for fear of ridicule and damaging their credibility.
As, by this point, you may be imagining me dancing with crystals and rainbow unicorns, I should mention my definition of spirituality. It’s the same as that of Dr Brene Brown (of the top ranking TED talk on vulnerability – which has 52 million views, and only eight of those are mine) and Dr Kristen Neff (researcher and best selling author of Self-Compassion: the Proven Power Of Being Kind To Yourself).
And that definition of spirituality is that we all all inextricably connected by a power greater than us.
I’ll come back later and write more about the implications and applications of having spirituality as a core operating belief. But underpinning that is my deepest core operating belief of pragmatism – meaning, what is true is what is useful. And, coming from a secular background, I’m finding a belief that we are all interconnected to be profoundly useful indeed.
So I hope that gives you some insights into the workings of my mind and therapies. If you’d like to learn about my more woo-woo spiritual-types therapies (specifically: past life regression), head over here.
If you’d like to arrange a session with me – or to discuss how I can help your team – send me a message here.