PowerTips November 2001

Our focus this month is weight loss, with special attention given to a couple of aspects often missed! We also announce a clinical trial on pain treatment.

Power Tips

Electronic Journal for the New Psychotherapies - V20/11/01
The Official Journal of The Association for Meridian Therapies

Welcome all readers, old and new, to the November 2001 edition of Power Tips, the first electronic journal in the world for the new psychotherapies.

Our focus this month is weight loss, with special attention given to a couple of aspects often missed!

We also announce a clinical trial on pain treatment.

We have just six therapists who are taking part in our joint international research project on group treatment for depression. This is such a worthwhile project and we urge any qualified therapist who has 2 days to spare in which to test their treatment skills with depression to please get in touch with me ASAP.

As always, I encourage anyone who has completed a research project or who has come across an interesting research paper relating to innovative approaches to mental health to contact me on Christine@lifeworks-group.com.au so that it may be considered for inclusion in Power Tips, and also for listing on the GoE web site.

Best wishes
Christine Sutherland

This month we have the following:

  • Treating Overweight. A review of the usual emotional aspects/mechanisms which prevent weight loss, as well as two not often considered: fantastical thinking, and unconscious "settings".
  • Biochemical Causes of Overweight. Thanks to the groundbreaking work of Dr John R Lee and Dr John Walsh, and now in Australia, Dr Igor Tabrizian, many of the missing pieces in medicine are coming to light. As therapists, we need to be cognizant of the fact that our clients' symptomatology is not all emotionally-based.
  • Clinical Trial on Treatment for Unrelieved Physical Pain. Early next month Lifeworks will run a controlled, randomised trial with people who are suffering from chronic pain.

Treating Overweight

The Story So Far

Most therapists are only too keenly aware that excess weight generally has emotional/psychological/behavioural causes which are interweaved and interdependent. Most are also aware that the vast range of these types of mechanisms, while common, are highly idiosyncratic to the individual. Therefore a professional therapist would never simply apply a psychological "recipe" or "by-the-dots" type therapy to any given client. Instead, each client's emotional/psychological/behavioural makeup would be investigated in order to give the most accurate understanding possible of the client's experience, the obstacles he/she faces, and the most promising solutions to those obstacles.

Typically we have looked at:

Nutrition behaviour and knowledge (especially drinking adequate WATER!)
Lifestyle behaviour and knowledge
Eating strategies
Family history (including beliefs about fatness or thinness)
Addictive/compulsive components
Feelings about food and weight
Feelings about sexuality/gender
Feelings about relationships
Advantages of excess weight
Disadvantages of excess weight
Advantages of losing weight
Disadvantages of losing weight
Identity issues
Esteem/confidence issues
Unconscious programming around weight

In investigating and treating these issues and aspects using a combination of psychotherapy and teaching, we have often overcome all of the obstacles to the person's losing weight such that the weight has seemingly reduced not only with little effort, but permanently. After all, if we've truly made changes at the level of "identity" then it is not possible to go back.

We have not always been successful, however, and I doubt we will ever be able to help 100% of people 100% of the time. There are simply too many variables at play. I would like to draw just 2 variables to your attention because these are very often overlooked.

Fantastical Thinking

I didn't coin this term, but I do like it! Fantastical thinking refers to the nonsense/unfounded beliefs we may hold about the consequences of future events. Fantastical thinking can often be elicited by questions such as "What will getting over this problem not get for me?"

Thus we may discover beliefs like:

When I am slim a man/woman will love me.
When I am slim I will get a better job.
When I am slim I will be happy.
When I am slim I will be more active.

Of course, these things may happen, but they are not "cause and effect" despite being linked that way in our minds. Once clients understand the nature of fantastical thinking, they may readily identify other false cause-effect relationships they may be holding onto.

What's wrong with fantastical thinking? I don't really know why this type of thinking can stop us in our tracks -- I can only guess. It may be something to do with avoiding disappointment by avoiding the "crunch". If we never get to the state of "slimness", we never get to be disappointed because our reason (excuse?) for missing out is "obvious". The real problem here is not "fatness" or "slimness", but being loved (by ourselves or others), getting goals, being happy, being more active, etc.

Unconscious Settings

This one has been a real eye-opener for many of us. So often we've tested statements like "It is unconditionally OK for me to be my perfect, healthy weight, now" (after going through a whole pile of treatment processes) and yet the person still does not lose weight. The diet is excellent, the lifestyle is balanced and healthy, and there don't seem to be any problems which could be associated with weight issues. What's going on?!

What may be going on is the unconscious mind's representation of "perfect, healthy weight"! Just because we consciously know what that represents, does not mean our unconscious mind agrees, and we all know who gets to run the show!

Recently, an overweight client with a goal weight of 78 kg MT'd that her perfect, healthy weight was 125 kg! No wonder weight loss had been such a struggle. We were able to treat that readily with BSFF and her weight promptly dropped -- she made no other changes to her already healthy diet or lifestyle.

Another client "re-programmed" her perfect, healthy weight, and promptly doubled her exercise quota, effortlessly, joyfully and compulsively. A complete absence of the old "no pain, no gain" routine!

Keep in mind that just because "unconscious programming" of some representation of "perfect, healthy weight" may have been identified in these cases, it certainly will not be the case for everyone. More often, we will simply have overlooked an aspect or aspects.

A frequent mistake by therapists is to conclude, on the basis of experience only with their own clients, that a certain mechanism is "true". It is only by proper testing, by many therapists, using controlled, randomised trials, properly designed, evaluated, and reviewed, that we can begin to make general statements about the existence of particular mechanisms or the value of particular interventions.

Biochemical Causes of Overweight

Whilst emotional/psychological/behavioural factors are almost always at play in cases of overweight, biochemical causes are also common. Typically these will be cases where the diet is excellent and the person is exercising sufficiently at least 3 times each week.

Other factors which may alert you to complicating biochemical issues are:

Presence of depression not related to previous trauma/upset
Dryness of skin
Skin a reddish tinge
Heavy periods
Underactive thyroid
Water retention
Sleep disturbance
Cold hands/feet
Autoimmune disorders
Memory problems
Decreased sex drive
Gall bladder disease
Craves chocolate (really craves)
Hair loss/thinning

This list is by no means comprehensive.

I have described here some of the common symptoms of estrogen dominance in women. This is a state of imbalance between estrogen and progesterone, implicating low zinc and magnesium and high copper levels (particularly after mid month). Men with zinc/magnesium imbalance may have high lead levels.

This information is not available through blood test, but by tissue analysis, typically the hair, since that is the least painful tissue to collect!

Most naturopaths and doctors would not have anything like the complex, sophisticated knowledge of human biochemistry required to properly investigate and resolve these types of issues. They do very little biochemistry at university and after that their education is primarily through pharmaceutical firms who fund and run pharmacology trials and who spend billions marketing their products. To find an adequately qualified doctor, your best approach may be to the folk at www.alternativementalhealth.com for a list in your region.

Clinical Trial on Unrelieved Physical Pain

The annual cost in Australia of unrelieved chronic pain is in excess of 10 billion dollars. I was stunned when I discovered that fact in our Commonwealth Government's own report on pain treatment.

Now that's with a population of only around 20 million. How much more must other, more highly-populated nations be forking out every year because we cannot provide relief for people's pain? And of course it's not just the dollars. When we think of the suffering not just for the poor person with the pain, but for the distress of family and friends who are helpless to assist, for the losses of communities where the sufferer is no longer contributing, the true cost becomes unimaginable.

Lifeworks hopes it can play a small part in at least partially redressing this situation. Many of us have had great successes in using EFT and other therapeutic interventions to deal with even the most severe chronic pain, often where many other conventional approaches have failed or where the person had been told there was nothing more which could be done. Now we will be putting our skills to the test with a controlled, randomised trial of chronic pain patients, referred by GP's in Western Australia.

Because Lifeworks funds all its own research (as usual, no government or other assistance has been forthcoming) it is a minimal 2-day trial, with 6 and 12 month follow-up. If successful, the control group will be offered treatment free of charge at a later date. Our aim is merely to show a statistically and clinically significant improvement in reported pain levels (via the visual analogue scale widely used to assess pain subjectively) and perhaps a slight increase in the level of "happiness" as measured by the Lifeworks Joy Inventory, which has been closely correlated with the BDI and MADRS in a previous study.

So far we just have 4 people for our trial, and we need at least 40. If you know anyone in Western Australia who has unrelieved chronic pain, and who may be interested in taking part in our trial, please have them telephone 08 9246 1977 during business hours.

It is hoped the trial will run in early December.

If you are not subscribed to the Meridiantherapy chat list, the most active list in our field, please do so today by sending a blank email to Meridiantherapy-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

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