"They do say that the best teachers to learn from are those tutors who show you where to look and not tell you what to look at; a teacher who seeks not to interpret the meaning of the image you see there.
Sixty-four years ago, I first came across the true meaning of meditation and relaxation after having incurred a bad traffic accident and being told that I'd never walk again. During this period when Western medicine offered me no realistic hope of ever being able to walk again I turned to Eastern methods and disciplines, lots of prayers, and I also I learned about the power of the imagination and how harnessing one's images and using one's visualisation can make the body do unbelievable things.
Twenty years later, I first became acquainted with Rogerian counselling; a 'client-centred' approach which is 'non-directive and non-judgemental.' This is a therapy where the client is cured through a process of finding and developing self-love. While most observers who are unfamiliar with this process will only see and hear a lot of 'ums' and 'ahs' from the counseller, I know that this approach can and has worked for many people who are prepared to undergo long-term therapy and who need to be 'listened to' more than 'reasoned with' or advised.
As a Probation Officer for most of my working life, I was naturally acquainted with the work of Sigmund Freud in my training, and while I found many of his psycho-analytical theories bizarre, I did find some of his work upon neurosis very pertinent. I later learned that often the only way to cure someone of a particular neurosis which badly hampered their life was to teach them to substitute it with a more innocuous neurosis.
Then, one night I was watching late night television and onto my screen came a rather inebriated psychiatrist called Ronald David Laing. This was in the early days of channel four and it was not unusual to see and hear all manner of things late into the early morning discussion programmes. Although Laing was half drunk at the time of his television discussion, he spoke a remarkable lot of sense. Laing appealed to me because he was a rebel; a revolutionary who held views which ran counter to the psychiatric orthodoxy of the day. He took the expressed feelings of his patients to be valid descriptions of their lived experiences rather than mere symptoms of some underlying disorder. For example, any patient who believed that they were King Henry the Fourth reincarnated was approached and spoken to by him as though they were King Henry the Fourth and not some nut case. Laing knew that if the mind led one to believe something unfactual, then it was perfectly natural for the body to live out that experience. He also propounded the theory of 'Reframing'; taking a problem situation and looking at it anew. For example, don't get upset if you are awake all night and sleep all day; instead think, 'Just look at how much I can get done in the early hours when everyone else is asleep and I can get on unhindered without telephone and other people distractions.'
Then, I discovered the work of Albert Ellis who worked in the field of Emotional Disturbance and before very long I found myself being fascinated by the Behaviourists of the day. The Behaviourist approach, although largely frowned upon in England in the early 1970s, appealed to me tremendously because it was a method that concerned itself with changing the effect of a particular form of problem behaviour as opposed to finding the cause and just talking about it! While naturally being interested in 'the cause' of any particular problem behaviour, it was this pragmatic approach of 'What can I do to change this situation/behaviour' which led me to specialise in Behaviour Modification.
Most behavioural work and modification of behaviour necessitates the use of Relaxation Training as an aid towards effecting change and so I became a Relaxation Instructor. Over the years ahead, I became wholly eclectic in my working methods as I derived ideas, styles, approaches from a diverse range of sources, theories and disciplines of working; selecting what I considered to be best practice from this and that along the way. It was this particular eclectic approach which gradually led me on to found the discipline and process of 'Anger Management' which mushroomed across the English speaking world within a matter of two years in the early 70s. It is highly refreshing to know that literally millions of people have been significantly helped through 'Anger Management' methods and processes.
All of this is to simply say that there is no 'one way' or 'no best way' for all varieties of problems and all types of people. Whereas one person responds better to 'this' approach, another will respond better to 'that.' While one person will more willingly accept the philosophy of one worker, another will instantly reject that of another. So the next time that you hear any purist advocate a universal panacea to counter one condition or another, take my advice and take a wide berth.
Consider: if you were arranging a meal to cater for a wide mixture of people from all four corners of the world next week; some meat lovers, others vegetarians and some vegans, you wouldn't dream of offering them all the same food to eat, would you? And even were you to persuade them all to partake, you couldn't possibly make them chew and digest what you'd served or stop them throwing up later on!
One of the most advantageous methods I have ever practised was strangely enough, 'Listening to the person, and in particular, the words they choose to describe their problem situation.' Why this is so important is that their very own words will indicate the type of working method that will prove the most effective in overcoming their problem area (psychiatric: psychological: emotional: or practical).
It works like this. Every single person has a general philosophical approach and set of beliefs. Some people are more of the 'thinking type', some the 'emotional type' and some the 'practical/doing type'. Every person's response pattern is comprised of what they 'think, feel and do', but is predominant in one of these three areas. If the method offered to the client by the worker doesn't match their philosophical beliefs, the problematic person will not be suitable or indeed be likely to carry out the treatment method. When method offered and the person being helped match, you have their instant appeal and they are more than likely to stick with the treatment method. The best method for a 'thinking person' with a problem is a mental approach carried out by a psychiatrist or cognitive behaviour therapist. The best method for a 'feeling person' is a psychological one carried out by a psychologist, counsellor or therapist. The best method for a 'doing person' is a task-orientated one (ie engaging in any activity that is known to change attitudes and behaviour such as any sport, walking, boxing, wood carving etc. etc.).
How the worker knows which type of method is appropriate to the person with the problem that is more likely to be philosophically accepted by them and followed, is by 'listening' to the person describe their own problem situation. Three different problem types are all at danger of killing themselves. When asked to describe their problem situation in their own words one might say, 'I often have these bad thoughts and I frequently find myself thinking about killing myself!' The next problem type might respond by saying, 'I feel so bad all the time that I feel like ending it all!' The third type of person may just threaten to kill themselves and then go on to do so!
Different horses for different courses, but it saves so much valuable and unwasted time of both worker and client backing the wrong runner!" William Forde: March 25th, 2018.