Monday, 24 July 2017

Fake Phds

On my Brass Bollocks training where I open the doors to the business end of my work and show exactly how and what I did and do now to run a successful business I repeatedly expound a simple principle:

"Humility will save you from humiliation."

It shouldn't be a difficult concept but in the world of personal development where everyone is chasing a high status in the industry, it is a very rare thing indeed.

This may sound familiar to some of you. Some trainers who bought the program now use this repeatedly themselves in their own versions of my product.

You can get the original here: (it's a bit old now, but still pretty good and is less than a tenner)

I believe that I can accurately predict how quick a new practitioner will fail and return to their day job.  The quickest failure will follow a single use of a single word. "Us"

On the practitioner's contact page they write, "Contact Us" instead of "Contact Me". This is an excellent predictor of failure where there is a just solo practitioner, rather than a group practitioners on the site.

Why do they write "Contact Us"?  Well, because he or she is trying to appear more than they actually are.

Their very first point of contact with their customer is built on a simple little deception, a lie.  Not exactly the best start, don't you think?

And the reason their business will fail?  Because they are deceiving themselves as to the true nature of their business and they will continue to build on this lie as they ever inflate their ego and bolster a false identity.

A fairly common extension of this lie is the use of false and fake qualifications and certifications. 

The fake PhD is just one example.

Another tragically common example is the endless creation of self-serving "Regulation Boards" "Associations", "Societies", Institutes" and so forth all in an attempt to afford status and prestige, when in fact they are just merely a brief invention to "endorse" their own practice and courses.

What this does is contaminate the marketplace so much that the public no longer knows what is a genuine society (i.e. it actually has members, a charter, etc) and what is just a webpage on the 'net purporting to be such. 

Actually, I think so many hypnotherapists are utterly ignorant and in their quest for status they don't ever bother checking these things out themselves.  They just send off a cheque, receive a certificate and that is that - they are a member, have a logo and so on, and so that they unknowingly perpetuate the lie and the falsehood.

Several years ago I managed to terminate the totally fake and illegal "British Board of NLP" operation by threatening to bring a criminal action against its "chairman" unless he removed all traces of the website and notified his "members" of such. 

Yet, if you google it today, you will still find people claiming to be members of "The British Board of NLP", displaying a logo and claiming status as a result.  It worries me when supposed experts in mental health display such crass stupidity. And I do think this is a stupidity rather than a deliberate fraud.

And here's the funny thing - they display these logos, memberships and false qualifications so that them.

It's worth mentioning here that a few years ago the original "chairman" of the "British Board of NLP" sent me a legal letter threatening me with litigation for libel unless I immediately ceased my public statements about their shenanigans.

I couldn't help but wonder how interesting it would be to see them actually try to prove in court that the 'British Board of NLP' actually existed.  It didn't and never did, so it was impossible for me to libel it. I never heard anything further from them until "it" (actually, this was just the domain name for the website and company name, which wasn't actually "The British Board of NLP") changed hands and the nonsense started up all over again.

I've recently challenged people about the use of fake PhDs on a hypnosis forum and interestingly received a collective outrage from forum members suggesting that to do so was somehow unsporting and that I was being aggressive.  Needless to say, the usual threats of litigation followed and expressions of outrage ensued.

A recent anonymous blog ( has taken to "outing" the hypnotherapists who claim to have PhDs when they allegedly don't have any such thing. Whilst I cannot claim to know the validity of the claims that are made on this blog, I thoroughly applaud the sentiment. I'd just like to add that in some circles that this is believed to be one of my sites. It isn't, nor do I know whose it is. Yet, periodically I receive emails from outraged individuals who think I am the one posting the Fake PhD Blog and telling me to cease and desist.

The hypnotherapy community appears outraged because apparently such a blog is unprofessional and brings the profession into disrepute.  Well, I have news for them - so is lying about one's qualification in order to defraud clients out of their money.

Here's the link to the BBC program about such nonsense that was aired in 2009 to which I was a main contributor behind the scenes and make a fleeting appearance and accidentally ask to see a lady's breasts.

I would love to read your comments in the section below...

Monday, 17 July 2017

Two Rupees

Every now and then a well-placed word or sentence can change everything for a person.  Sometimes this can happen more by chance than by design, but it doesn't have to be this way.  Here's an example from a trip to India about 14 years ago.

I was hopelessly lost.  I'd gotten off the bus unknowingly at the wrong place and headed across town in what I thought was the right direction, only to discover my error.  Being a Sunday, most things were shut and there weren't too many people around, and by the time I found the bus station, I was completely alone.  There was no one there at all.

I stood pondering the best course of action when movement from across the bus park caught my attention.  A small man was sprinting across the bus park and directly towards me. I thought this curious and thought it more so as he closed in and was clearly going to run straight into me.  What is this madness? I thought, and in the last moment, he swerved attempting to snatch my bag from my shoulder as he did so.

Now, with me being twice his size and having braced for impact, a comedy moment ensued whereby he was wrenched from his feet and fell flat on his ass right beside me as the bag remained securely around my shoulder.  I was dumbfounded and for a moment had no idea what to do or say.  I kind of stood there open mouthed staring at him whilst he lay there in a similar state staring back up at me.

I helped him to his feet.

"Give me two rupees." he said.  I told him no, I wouldn't give him two rupees and that maybe, just maybe, he might want to go away.

"Two rupees," he replied.


"Two rupees!"

Now, at this point, he started pulling at my shirt and made another attempt at snatching my bag.  I pushed him away, but he was quite insistent.

"Two rupees!" he kept demanding, holding out his fingers in a begging gesture.

Now, of course, I could have simply handed him two rupees, but there were a number of potential scenarios that could have occurred.  The most obvious was that he'd take the two rupees and then simply demand another two rupees.  The other possibility was that the moment I take my wallet out of my pocket, he'd try to snatch that too.

He looked impoverished, downtrodden and poor.  But he was also a problem to me, it was clear that he wasn't going to give in or go away too readily.

He kept pulling at my shirt, "two rupees!" he was saying over and over.

I was beginning to get quite irritated and now was stuck in a mind set commonly known as "The Principle Of The Thing"  - this man had tried to steal my bag, and now he was demanding money and wasn't going to go away. There was a principle at stake here.  Thinking outside the box was not going to be part of this.  Stupid mindset.

I started to walk away but he still kept tugging at my shirt, "two rupees, two rupees!"

Then he started walking in front of me, "two rupees!" and then at my side, "two rupees!" then blocking my path, "two rupees!"  This went on and on for what seemed like hours, but in reality was only about 30 minutes.  There were still no people around, "where is everyone?" I pondered.

I began to get very angry indeed.  

"Two rupees! Two rupees!

"NOO!!!  NOOO!!!  NO!!  I AM NOT GIVING YOU TWO RUPEES!!  NOW F*CK OFF!!"  I screamed, I bellowed, I waved my arms, I displayed as much hostility as I could muster.  All pointless of course, because…

"Two rupees!"


I crossed the threshold of sanity and did what is known in my part of the world as, "Completely Losing The Plot"  The words streaming from my mouth undoubtedly lacked too much coherence, but the message was unmistakable.  Copious bile was spat in his direction….

"Two Rupees?"

I hated him.

My anger and feeling of powerlessness over this infuriating little man continued to rise and I could see no end to this ridiculous charade ever happening.  It was like I was in some kind of hell that would last forever and I could see no way out of the torment.

And then I entered one of the least proud moments of my life.
I shoved him as hard as I possibly could away from me, shouting at him the whole time. He nearly fell to the floor.

"Two rupees!?"

I was now incandescent. I picked him up, twirled him around and dropped him on the floor and towered over him, shouting and threatening him.

And then something happened.  A voice.  A different voice that came from behind me.

I glance around and see a young man in spectacles holding a pile of books.

"Excuse me, Sir," he said, "I think I can see what the problem is."

"WHAT IS IT THEN!?!?!?!?" I shouted, realising as I did so that I really shouldn't be shouting at this young man.

"You see, Sir, that poor man on the floor doesn't speak English!"

The sheer ludicrousness of that statement broke the tension and I burst out laughing.  Doesn't speak English?  Which bit of any of my communication needed any translation? The young man just raised his eyebrows and looked at me with disappointment in his eyes. The man on the floor started laughing too, but I doubt that he any idea what he was laughing at, he was probably just trying to humour me and stay alive.

As I say, not exactly one of my proudest days, and that annoying man still kept following me.  For another full hour in fact.  I remained quite calm, and I gave him the two rupees.  Actually, I gave him more than that, and yes, he did those two things as I predicted.  He tried to snatch my wallet and when that failed, he continued to demand two rupees.  I eventually escaped in a taxi who initially drove slowly enough to permit the man to run alongside the taxi shouting, "two rupees!" whilst he held out his hand.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017


This is my reply on a LinkedIn group in response to a question about modelling criminals in order to find better solutions to imprisonment.  I thought it worth sharing here:

To add to this, I too often wonder about all this supposed modelling. I don't wish to dismiss the original question in this thread as I think it has worth, but I have to ask where are all the models and demonstrations of the excellence that is so frequently claimed in NLP?

For example:

- Did an NLPer ever win the target shooting at the Olympics?
- Do we have legions of NLPers making money on the stock exchange, in property investment?
- Do we have NLPers offering lessons in healing on hospital wards?
- Any NLPers competing and winning at Nascar?
- Any NLPers inventing new machines and technology?
- Any champion fighters, boxers or gamblers who got there from NLP modelling?
- Any medical breakthroughs from NLP modelling?

There may be one or two, but I doubt there are very many despite there being many, many thousands of people trained in NLP and claiming qualification.

I think in part it goes wrong because to do any of these things involves a great amount of work, and many NLPers don't want to do "work" - what they want to do is NLP!

There are undoubtedly a very great number of dedicated people who work in the criminal justice system who well understand the model of criminality from a multiple of aspects. I doubt such understanding comes through chatting to a few crims though. Hard work, dedication and being in it for the long haul will probably help a lot.

One of the problems in-built into the world of NLP is that so many people are attracted to NLP for selfish purposes i.e. personal development and recreation. It's fun, it fulfils, it's a good thing to do. However, many jobs such as medicine/nursing, criminal justice, military and so on require something else - the ability to deal with really shitty times and bad days at the office, physical and mental exhaustion, physical and mental threats and challenges and so on. These are usually the very things that the NLPer and coach seeks to avoid - it is one of the reasons that so many self-employed seek self employment - to avoid the pain of work.

It is just unfortunate that so many end up avoiding not just the pain, but they also avoid the work itself.

And then the follow up...

"I wonder why there is such an apparent lack of modelling evidence and it 
being put into practice; is it because NLP is still seen as a black art by 
mainstream medicine, business and society, or is it still a well-kept 
(deliberately perhaps?) secret?"

Not at all. It is not up to the medics, business people or society to find the application of NLP, it is the responsibility of the NLP practitioners who claim excellence to do so.

I think that it is the problem. Selfish and smug, see...

For years, working at Southampton General Hospital, before my cynicism to NLPers set in I regularly invited NLP practitioners to come and do modelling work and also to demonstrate their excellence on the departments on which I worked. No one ever took me up on this.

For NLPers wanting to get rich and famous for being "excellent" - what better way than modelling healing and then demonstrating it on a simple video posted onto youtube?

Same for those guys who claim to be able to teach you to read minds like Derren Brown - let's see a video then? Guys? Guys...? Oh, never mind.

How about seeing your submodality sets via SMEACS? A video demonstration, perhaps? Not too difficult for NLPers of apparent seniority, surely? Yet when asked publicly, said persons have what appears to be an emotional meltdown before one can utter the magic words, "State control! State control!"

Building a control panel in your mind, creating binocular telescopic vision? Enhance your hearing and sensory acuity? Fine, just be sure when writing to the guy that you use large print and double line spacing. But how about a video demonstrating the effect of said machines? Just a little video..something..anything?

Having a person sitting on your knee, regressed to being a small child and able to see the book that mother is reading with absolute clarity? Cute story, but how about a demo of such things?

Modelling sharp shooters for the army? Let's see the video. Shouldn't be too difficult to take an inexperienced person to the gun range and then film the installation and delivery of sharp shooting excellence. So, where's the video? I'm a member of a couple of gun clubs that are local to me. Come on over, I'll do the filming and am willing to be a demo subject (I'm a dreadful shot) just remember to bring some cake and wear Kevlar.

What about a mediocre video of some therapeutic excellence? Oh, that isn't too common either. Me and Nick Kemp are two of a very small number of people willing and able to demonstrate this and we continue to do so. Why isn't everyone else doing this? Perhaps because they are afraid of being "found out"?

But what we do get is yet more and more and more and more and more claims of marketing wizardry and brilliance (mostly from people heavily in debt), firewalking and yet more bored (sic) breaking. Same old, same old.

Yet, often I hear how "closed" the medical world is. Yet, this is completely contrary to my experience.

I often hear NLPers being highly negative of doctors ("Can you believe it, he actually said to the patient, 'this might hurt' - can you imagine!!") but yet I don't see too many NLPers popping off to gain their medical degree so they can apply their amazing skill base in the real world (as opposed to applying it in their imagination).

When people ask, "why don't doctors learn NLP?" I generally reply, "Why don't NLPers learn medicine?"

The complaint of "doctors are closed to the idea of NLP" is hardly grounded in reality, yet I hear it referenced often. It's a convenient excuse, of course. It means that their miracles of NLP are never actually tested, and so it keeps the dream alive.

Next time you hear an NLPer say this, ask them how many medical clinics they have actually asked to visit and demonstrate their excellence.

My best guess as to why so few people ever are wiling to find an application of their NLP skills is simply because reality has this habit of really ruining a good dream. An expensive dream at that.

You are a winner!

You are a winner!

There is one common marketing strategy that works really well that serves to make people fat and die young.  Make them a winner for being a glutton.

You undoubtedly seen that appalling TV show that has people competing against each other in races to eat the most of a particular thing, like burgers, pork pies or pickled goats brains or wotnot.

They even put a disclaimer on the show, "don't try this at home, these are professional eaters."  What on earth is a "professional eater" anyway?

One can only wonder if TV networks in countries like Eritrea and Ethiopia would ever show such an abomination to their viewing audience?

Here's the other thing.  Restaurants that serve things like a "belly buster" - a massive plate of meat or something that if you manage to eat it all, you will get a free T-shirt, ten dollars or you get to snog the waitress or something.  Regardless, successful gluttony in those establishments is greeted with prizes, fanfare, and of course, lots of free publicity in the local press for the eating establishment.

People will applaud greed. You will be a winner.

The weird thing about these winners?  They usually aren't all that fat.

They will still die young though if they keep that up.


A solution?

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

On Guilt

As emotions go, guilt is one of the most useless ones.  It serves a minimal positive function and can serve to really ruin a person's day and render them foolish.  Unlike some emotions, guilt is not time dependent - it doesn't fade over time.  It lurks.

Guilt can also jump time.  Things can happen during the course of life that are all quite normal, then something happens to change our perceptions and suddenly we can remember something that previously appeared innocuous to us, but with our newfound perspective, we can feel guilty about it.

And we can feel guilty about things we have done, we can feel guilty about things we didn't do, but wish we had, and of course, we can feel guilty for nothing at all.  We don't have to have done something or omitted to do something in order to feel guilty.  Others can make us feel guilty through their expectations of us.  Expectations can lead to disappointment, and their feeling of disappointment can lead to our feeling of guilt.  It's funny how some emotions link up to others in a  certain sequence and logical order.

It's like this:

   You expect something of me.
   I don't deliver.
   You are disappointed in me.
   I feel guilty about that.

But was the expectation fair in the first place?  I have long observed that high expectations of a person can seriously undermine them and erode their self-confidence.  After all, when the person does the action, are they doing for themselves, or doing it because it is what is expected of them?

Now, by "the action" this might be a behaviour, i.e. something they do, or an identity, i.e. something they are.

Here's an example I've witnessed recently.  An intelligent young woman from a privileged background is at that junction in life where study ends and either further education is undertaken, or a career is selected.  She is bright, she is articulate, she has potential.

The great weight of unspoken pressure is there for her to be an achiever.  The university brochures are scanned through, the careers advisor is attended, wise words from family elders are spoken.

But the truth is she doesn't want any of that.  She wants to get married, have children, be a housewife.

But that doesn't fit with the image of the potential that has been ascribed to her.  After all, she is so young, it would be a shame to throw it all away...

This is an identity conflict.  So in order to avoid the disappointment of others, this young woman is going through all the motions of university application.  Half-hearted efforts that repeatedly result in failure, late appointments, accidental absences and continual low-level illnesses and afflictions.

Everyone is asking, "What is wrong with Polly?"

The obvious is just too elusive.  There is nothing wrong with Polly.  The elephant in the room goes unnoticed though.

So we get:

   You expect something of me.
   I fail to deliver.
   You are disappointed in me.
   My maladies explain why I failed so that your erroneous perception of me never has to be corrected.
   No one has to feel guilty any more.

As a clinician who spends many hours a week working with complex social and family issues, I see so many relationship difficulties that arise from the attempts to avoid guilt.  People deceive, they lie, they convince themselves it is for the best.  White lies.  Deception in the other persons best interests.

Guilt doesn't make people good people, it makes them act like irrational fools and it makes them do stupid stuff.  As a professional change worker, I have long held the view that guilt does not facilitate change - in fact, it does the exact opposite, it inhibits it.  I shall explain my reasoning for this.

Guilty people are always apologising and trying to make amends, but they continue doing the same stuff.  If guilt was effective at creating change, why do they have to keep apologising?

Primarily it is because of time orientation.  Guilt is about the past - it is a retrospective emotion.  For example, we don't feel guilty about things that have not happened or are yet to happen.  That emotion is called anxiety and anxiety is a prospective emotion.

So, guilt is about what has been, anxiety is about what is to come.

You cannot change what has been.  Small point, I know, but worth knowing.

Now, it isn't entirely uncommon for individuals to punish others by making them feel guilty.  Last year I had a client whom I unceremoniously ejected from the session owing to his unsavoury behaviour.  He yelled, then he texted, then he emailed the threats of suicide telling me to think about how awful I'd feel if he killed himself.  The ultimate blackmail - do as I say, or I'll kill myself, then see how you feel.

This isn't a good strategy.  You see if we try to motivate a person with guilt, look at the situation the guilt-laden person is now in - the actions they now undertake are orientated in order to lessen their feeling of guilt, not necessarily to change any prospective behaviours.

Let me give you an easy example.  Imagine I have an unpleasant habit of repeatedly jabbing you in the face with my left thumb.  You tell me how much you dislike this behaviour and load me up with some guilt.  I may well now look to relieve myself of this guilt by making amends for what I have done.  But is this necessarily going to change what I am going to do in the future?  Possibly, but from experience, probably not.

I might "make amends" for what has been, but once I am free from the guilt, the chances are that I will carry on as before until I am loaded up with guilt again.  And so the process is repeated.

Thus to summarise the point: a guilty person usually seeks to free themselves from their guilt, not necessarily to change their behaviour, perception of you or their future conduct.  Once they are free from guilt, everything is reset to the way it was before the offence was raised.

It looks like this:

   I poke you in the face.
   You tell me how bad this is.
   I feel guilty and apologise.
   You accept the apology and we shake hands.
   I feel better and I poke you in the face again.

So, in order to get a person to change, we need to get them to drop their guilt as a strategy for making things better.  Their guilt is has nothing to do with behavioural change, and behavioural change is the better outcome.

It's worth mentioning here - if you are a person who feels a sense of satisfaction from making another person feel guilty, please stop doing this.  The people who do this are both professional victims and bullies.  As with my client example earlier, by using the threat of suicide he aims to turn me into his puppet, something completely under his control.  I have known many relationships between people that are controlled this way.  The threat is never actually made explicit, but rather it is implied and it becomes yet another elephant in an increasingly crowded room.  People start to feel suffocated but cannot leave for fear of what might happen if they do.

When guilt creeps into a relationship, silent and not so silent control games begin to emerge.  Rules get made, rules get broken.  Long silences - silent rows that can last for hours become commonplace, issues get skirted around and no one feels all that good any more.  If the relationship continues, homeostasis can be found when the maladies begin - insomnia, headaches, migraines, chronic fatigue, tired all the time syndrome, easy explanations, tempers and angers (often directed outside of the relationship - maybe towards politicians, maybe towards the neighbours or the spotty guy in the DIY store).  Blood pressure can rise, serotonin levels can fall and sooner or later diagnosable physical symptoms emerge.

A persistent low level of background guilt can be devastating the quality of life.  As trainees in Integral Eye Movement Therapy will be aware, there is an intimate relationship between guilt, worry and anger ( "The Three Pillars" model).

   Persistent guilt is a trigger for worry.
   Worry is a trigger for anger.
   Anger is a trigger for guilt.
   And around and around it goes.

If this pattern continues for any length of time, it can lead to a serious state of depression.  Of course, a state of depression is just perfect for feeling guilty, for feeling anxious and for getting angry.

People caught in this cycle are often a nightmare to be around, their behaviour affects other people, which of course, in turn, leads to yet more guilt.

In my book, The Rainbow Machine, I describe the behaviours common to Right Man Syndrome what was interesting was the effect this chapter would have.  I was inundated with emails and messages from people who thought either that

1. I was describing them or 2. describing someone they knew.

A number of clinicians contacted me to describe their relief at my response to dealing with Right Man Syndrome (get them out the door as quickly as possible and refer them to a therapist you don't like!).  This enabled me to gather a lot more data and has led me to two simple conclusions.

Right Man Syndrome sufferers feel guilt stronger than other people and are more negatively affected by it.

Right Man Syndrome is a strategy that develops primarily to avoid feeling guilt.

So, in summary...

When things go wrong and guilt arises, the behaviours that emerge will lean towards resolving this guilt, not at changing their future behaviours.

The result of this is a situational and relationship reset where everything gets put back to what it was before the upset.  Chances are high that the issue will re-emerge later on.  Repeatedly.

Absolution of guilt is not change.  What changes is the person's perception on what has been, not what will be.

Thus, resolution of guilt is only the first, and let's face it, the least important aspect of creating change.  Guilt is resolved only in order to permit the prospective change to begin.

What is frustrating for me, as a change worker, is knowing just how easy and quickly guilt can be resolved.  Usually, within a few minutes an entire lifetime of guilt can be resolved using the appropriate processes, but what is frustrating is that guilty people are usually quite defensive and are keen to enter into a state of denial when the subject is raised.  For so many people, guilt is equal to blame, and blame is bad and so is best avoided.  Cue:  the beginnings of Right Man Syndrome, where being right is more important than being happy.

The other frustration is then getting the guilt-laden person to actually do the process.  So many people seem content to simply get an intellectual understanding of the resolution processes but they never actually try them out.

A particular problem with guilt resolution can arise though.  The person who feels guilty requires the offended party to also change - "She must accept my apology!"

But why?

If I poke you in the face and then feel terrible about that, why should you accept my apology?  It is as though because I feel bad, then you have to accept me.  By feeling bad and offering an apology, I now make you responsible for my emotional welfare.

So not only have I jammed my thumb into your face, but I now hold you responsible for how bad I feel about it!

And, to top it off, if you don't accept my apology,  this will make you the bad person.

   I poke you in the face.  I apologise.
   Wounded, you don't accept the apology.
   Well, screw you.  Let me now tell you why you get poked in the face by people like me.

Power struggles get played out frequently around issues of guilt.

So, in resolution for guilt, it is important for the guilty party to give up the need for others to either understand or to change.  The guilt is theirs, and theirs alone.

But it isn't a cross to bear. No. So many guilty people like to romanticise their suffering this way.

As I like to say to these clients, "Who you think you are? Jesus?" and then remind them that they are just not that important.  They are not important enough to martyr themselves, but they do have a responsibility to change and change they shall.

It isn't a cross to bear.  It is something to be put down.  Given up.  Dropped.

Once they have done this, THEN they can begin to do the business of putting things right.

I remind clients that their guilt is about them and has nothing to do with the other person.  Here's a demonstration of how to do this.

Ask the client:  "How strong is this guilt that you experience, on a score out of 10, with 10 being as strong as it can be?"
Ask the client:  "And how familiar is this feeling of guilt?"
Ask the client:  "And when is the first time that you can remember feeling this guilt feeling…now it may not be the first time you ever felt it, but rather is the first time that you can remember now?"  (Ref:  Integral Eye Movement Therapy)

Nearly every time, the feeling pre-dates the situation that is reported to be the presenting problem.  If you felt this same feeling before the current situation, then this situation has little to do with how you feel.  It is the earlier situation that taught you to feel this way.

Guilt resolution processes feature in a number of areas of my work.  Integral Eye Movement Therapy has simple enough processes that virtually anyone can use, and I have a more comprehensive model developed within the Metaphors of Movement work. 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Me, Myself and I

Until recently I lived at the back of the former home of J.M Barrie, author of Peter Pan, by the sea in Rustington, West Sussex. I now live about 150 meters down the road closer to the sea.

We have two pet seagulls that live with us, they were here before us and came with the house. Whenever I give them fresh fish (usually the leftovers after we've been out mackerel fishing) they bring us presents of bundles of twigs and hay.

As a teenager, my hobby was breeding tropical fish, primarily Mbuna cichlids from Lake Malawi and amongst other awards I once won a regional show with a guppy that I had selectively bred to have a blue sheen and an elongated upper tail fin.  Owing to space and overseas work commitments, my fish collection is currently reduced to a tropical brackish water aquaria and some goldfish.

I started studying the Qabalah and the Western esoteric system at age 18 and have been a small-time member of various lodges and orders ever since.

As a nurse, I worked in a number of clinical areas including casualty, cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery and neurology.  As an occupational health advisor, I worked in the automotive industry, aviation hydraulics, and education.  I once worked as a consultant to a bakery, which lasted a few days.  I raised a number of serious issues about health and safety which culminated in the employees staging a walk out and a senior manager threatening to "do" me in the car park. I had to hide in the office for a couple of hours before being able to sneak out unassaulted.

In my early 20's I briefly worked as a clinical researcher (I forget the exact title, but it was probably "assistant") It was the single most stressful time of my life and everything I touched either broke, fell over, spilled or went missing.  I learned years later that the entire clinical research team celebrated when I resigned in tears after six months.

Many times when travelling I have attended an accident or heart attack victim. Two of the most recent resuscitations were one on a transatlantic flight and another at London Victoria station.

Both survived.

I am usually disappointed at how unwilling people are to offer assistance but always impressed and relieved with how amazing and generous people are when they are actively directed to help. Two years ago I also assisted at the resuscitation of a drowning casualty near to where we live. Sadly he didn't make it.

I have been a motorcyclist since I was 16 and only learned to drive a car a few years ago.  My first motorbike was a Yamaha DT50 and my last motorcycle was a Suzuki Bandit 600.

I have never attended a football match, cricket match or any other form of sports event.  I have no intention of ever doing so. Apparently, I do not possess a sports gene or a dance gene.

My favourite authors of fiction are Iain Banks, James Herbert and Paulo Coalho.  My favourite ever book is, "Illusions" by Richard Bach but I didn't enjoy his others.

I often work with clients via Skype.

Despite a popular rumour to the contrary, I have never had the police turn up at a workshop nor have I ever hit an attendee with a chair (but I confess to having been tempted once or twice).

This story originates from two things - I once punched a freak of an assistant-therapist at an event where I was refused permission to leave the room because he felt that I was "running away from my feelings". I was attempting to assist a demo subject to leave the room who was being ordered to reveal details of a rape to the group, she declined and was coerced into continuing with the demonstration.

At the exit, the brainwashed assistant stood blocking my way whilst a bunch of other assistants moved in to "love-hug" me.  That part happened about 20 years ago.  I do not know where the origin of the police part of the story comes from, but I am aware of the person who likes to tell that story at his NLP practice group in the UK.  Curiously, this same person also likes to tell people that he reviewed and edited my book, "The Rainbow Machine."  He didn't.

The three films I least enjoyed were The Shawshank Redemption, Flightplan and Lord of the Rings.  Lord of the Rings is the only film I didn't bother staying 'til the end for.  Oh, and Star Wars.  Truly dreadful.

Whilst being a big fan of Robert Anton Wilson, I thought the Illuminatus Trilogy was dreadful. This small detail has seen me unfriended by some RAW obsessives.

For my birthday last year, I was given some baby Giant African Snails (they are now enormous) and for my 40th, an AK47.  Laura knows me well.

No matter what some people continue to claim, I have never taken an NLP training in Ireland and misbehaved whilst doing it. Why this story persists I do not understand.

I have been keeping and training rats for several years.  The last two I had, Minni and Mika, were very affectionate female dumbo rats whose favourite food was pasta and when they tired of following me about the apartment, they tend to nest down in the stationary cupboard.  I have lost count of how many times i have had people tell me that they don't like rats because of their tails.

My favourite book as a child was, "The Amateur Naturalist" by Gerald Durrell.

The strangest thing that ever happened to me occurred when I visited a monastery high up in the hills in north east India and without me realising was mistaken for  visiting dignitary.  Like a fool, I interpreted all the meets and greets merely as exceptional hospitality shown to an overseas visitor and went along with it.  The moment I was ushered onto a podium in very large and busy conference room the misunderstanding became apparent to all.

I make model aeroplanes.

I like to study all sorts of things and have taken courses and studies in philosophy, fungi, magic/illusions, stand up comedy, self-defence, car mechanics, herbalism, waterskiing, astronomy, and firearms.  If I am ever missing, look for me at the nearest rocky beach with tidal rock pools, I can spend days there and not notice the time passing.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Tea or Coffee?

The “tea or coffee” bind is a very useful predictor for how well a session may go.  Whilst I use an offer of a hot beverage, any bind of alternative choices will do.

Here is how it works.  When the client arrives I quickly show them in, point out where the toilet is (many have travelled far) and offer “Tea of coffee?”

This is a bind of comparable choice.  I have not asked, “Would you like a drink?” which is a simple “yes or no” question.  The bind is to accepting a drink, and the choice is either tea or coffee.

Here are the possible answers that a person might give.

  1. Tea
  2. Coffee
  3. Neither thanks
  4. No thanks
  5. Oh, I’ll just have a glass of water, please
  6. Do you have herbal tea?
  7. I’ll have whatever you are having

This might sound a bit daft, but the response that is given can be a remarkable predictor on how well the client session is going to go.  The person who accepts either tea or coffee will invariably be co-operative and engaging in the therapeutic process.  This doesn’t mean that they will be easy to “cure”, but certainly will be easy to work with towards that “cure”.

Not everyone drinks tea or coffee, and some, having travelled far and arrived early, may have just come from the café around the corner, but don’t want to reject what is offered.  These are the people who will say something along the lines of, “Oh, I’ll just have a glass of water, thanks.”

Independent thinkers will request an alternative such as “herbal tea.”  Nearly always, these are the clients who come to learn rather than be “therapised”, and will actively ask questions, discuss, argue and apply what they learn to themselves.

The people who say, “Oh, I’ll have whatever you are having” have usually come to be therapised and look to be led and directed in their responses.

The client who rejects the offer outright will nearly always be the “difficult” client.  Difficulties emerge in their response sets along the lines of:
  • Most answers to most questions begin with “I don’t know…”
  • When pressed, the client will just sit there silently, as though in deep inner contemplation, and then eventually look up and ask, “What was the question?”
  • Yes, but…” is a common expression for them
  • What if…” is their preferred style of questioning (“What if…” is a way of generating a counterexample to any generalisation that is created)
  • Any responses that are given tend to be tangential (basically, they don’t answer the question)
  • The client will tend to focus on the performance of their therapists, past and present and offer critical reviews on these performances.  They can be very good at not talking about themselves but preferring to discuss the behaviours of others.
  • The client will expect the therapist to “fix” them without their own active engagement in any process.  This is what my colleague Nick Kemp refers to as “The Magic Wand Mind Set.”

In younger and more naïve times, I would attempt to do “therapy” in the face of all these behaviours.

It rarely went well.  Now, I will actively address these behaviours – address what is happening in the here and now, what is right in front of you.

In my book, “The Rainbow Machine” I give the example of the man with “low self-esteem” who thought he was unlikeable (he was pretty much right about that).  What his previous counsellor had missed, or ignored, this man’s ongoing behaviours, his dress sense, his level of hygiene, his hair cut (all of which were appalling) and instead chose to focus on the therapeutic goal of raising this unfortunate man’s self-esteem.

Try this in your next client session.  Offer tea or coffee.  If the client rejects it, do this.  Say, “It’s not a choice.  Do you want tea or coffee?” and do this dead-pan, don’t be tempted to break the emerging tension.  This is difficult to do at first, as it goes against what so many of us do naturally.  I like to allow the tension to rise a little and watch how the client handles this.

Either the client will acquiesce, or a standoff will emerge.  The standoff takes as long as it takes.  Wherever possible, I like to get the stand off out of the way before the session begins proper.  It makes things much easier that way.