I am writing this blog near the end of my professional career as a psychologist, teacher and therapist. I wanted a space to put together the ideas created over many decades by thousands of people who have worked with me. This material is presented in an increasingly systematic order for the first time to help me to understand what I have achieved. I think I deliver therapy well but I have rarely thought to understand how I do it. I just do it. Therefore, I will learn from completing this task and I trust that others can benefit at the same time.
Where my ideas accord with a specific approach to psychological therapy then I want to respect it. For example, some of this material is influenced by Transactional Analysis (and its US founder, Eric Berne, and UK-based practitioners such as Iain Stewart and Adrienne Lee, from Nottingham). Other large influences have come from American practitioners like Milton Erikson,Michael Yapko, Virginia Satir and Bill O’Hanlon (well-known for his contribution to Solution-focused and Strategic therapies). My training in clinical hypnosis in London means I have a debt to
My training in Eye Movement De-sensitation and Reprocessing (EMDR) provided an insight into important practical strategies for supporting people experiencing trauma. It was invaluable in helping individuals explore those experiences safely.
I can tell you my own approach to promoting change best fits four particular psychological approaches: the transactional, cognitive, systemic and strategic models of therapy. Strategic therapies, for me, include clinical hypnosis. All of them are over-lain on some traditional views on therapy. A few key names here include Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Melanie Klein, Jean Piaget, John Bowlby, Carl Rogers, Mary Ainsworth, Heinz Kohut and the Beck family.
Their work has been described by better writers than I so please do your own research to bolster your knowledge. I have made mention of their ideas where it seems essential. My summary here gives you an insight into the models that have shaped my thinking.
My acknowledgements would be incomplete with a word of appreciation to the several professional supervisors who have supported me over the years. This list includes people in Scotland, the North-east of England, London and the East of England. Sadly, some are no longer with us and I still miss the wisdom of Wendy Rose-Neil, Alice Stephenson and George Fenton.
As I’m not sure others would want a ‘mention’ here, and I would be troubled if I left out some-one, I want to say a simple ‘global’ thank you and trust you all remember who I was in your life! This word of appreciation includes many individuals who shared group supervision and group learning with me over many decades, particularly in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, York, Norfolk and Perthshire. That number of people is considerable and I’ll simply have to say: you’ll know who you are.
In addition, there are family and friends around the UK, and beyond, who have put up with me over the years. In particular, my son, Alan, played a large part in trying to make my on-line presentation intelligible.
So, to conclude, designing and implementing safe experiments is not, of itself, a model. Why? Because it is a method of enquiry. It is a method that assumes I do not want you to accept my ideas. I want you to use the method of safe experimentation to help yourself.
Reading alone will not work until you do that thing; trying things out is needed. Noticing what you’ve tried out, and the results you have generated, are at least as important.
Also, I do insist that other authors are important; they can inform your methods and give you confidence on your plans – especially when you translate their ideas into your own world through your own experiments.
That said, gaining knowledge from known authorities is only a first step in the design of sound, safe experiments relevant to your life.