“Meta” means “beyond”. The term metapsychology, coined by Freud, has been defined by Frank A. Gerbode, MD as follows, “The science that unifies mental and physical experience. Its purpose is to discover the rules that apply to both. It is a study of the person, his/her abilities, and experience, as seen from his/her own point of view. It goes beyond the study of behavior to the study of that which behaves, the person him or herself, and the person’s perceptual, conceptual, and creative activity.”
Applied Metapsychology is the application of structured techniques within a generally person-centered context, designed to permit a person to examine his or her: life, mind, emotions, experiences (including traumatic experiences), decisions, fixed ideas, and successes, with the aim of resolving areas of emotional charge and returning to a more productive and satisfying life.
The purpose of Applied Metapsychology is to:
- Bring about more rapid and complete resolution of the traumatic stress that results from all types of traumatic events through the application of Traumatic Incident Reduction and related techniques:
- Emotional and physical shocks
- Losses of all kinds including:
- Loss of a loved one
- Loss of a relationship
- Loss of a job or career
- Provide an effective method to address problematic life issues such as
- Relationship difficulties
- Low self-esteem or self-confidence
- Career problems
- Loss of vitality and enthusiasm
- Move beyond the goal of merely returning someone to a normal level of functioning and feeling relatively all right, to empowering real personal growth and self-actualization
- Explore human potential
Dr. Gerbode began the development of Applied Metapsychology in the 1980s. It grew mainly out of the work of Carl Rogers and Sigmund Freud. In “Two Short Accounts of Psycho-Analysis”, Freud describes a method to resolve sequences of similar traumas:
“What left the symptom behind was not always a single experience. On the contrary, the result was usually brought about by the convergence of several traumas, and often by the repetition of a great number of similar ones. Thus it was necessary to reproduce the whole chain of pathogenic memories in chronological order, or rather in reversed order, that latest ones first and the earliest ones last; and it was quite impossible to jump over the later traumas in order to get back more quickly to the first, which was often the most potent one.”
Freud seems to have abandoned this technique in favor free association; however, we have found the process of having a client view sequences of traumatic incidents, later to earlier, to be highly effective when done systematically. When someone is allowed to go through each incident several, or possibly a great many times, as may be needed, resolution of traumatic stress is achieved.
The work of Carl Rogers was invaluable in providing rules, such as a proscription against interpretations and evaluations, and an overall viewpoint of respect for the authority of the client, both of which tend to help create a safe environment.
Although Rogers first described his work as “non-directive” and later as “person-centered”, Dr. Gerbode took the position that “non-directive” doesn’t mean the same thing as “person-centered”, and that these two are actually orthogonal (not on the same plane) to each other. He defined “person-centered” as the attitude of respect for the superior authority of the client and the concomitant rules for not stepping on the client’s reality, and “non-directive as the client giving structure to the session. For instance, classical, free-associative psychoanalysis is non-directive, but not person-centered. Cognitive and behavioral therapies are non-person-centered (because the therapist disputes the reality of the client) and directive (the therapist determines the agenda). Rogers is non-directive and person-centered. Applied Metapsychology techniques fall into the fourth category: person-centered and directive.
Once Dr. Gerbode established the basic philosophy of the subject he, along with colleagues, went on to develop specific applications, such as dealing with addictions, complex trauma, bereavement, phobias, relationship problems, enhancing creativity, and maximizing potential.
What Dr. Gerbode has achieved with the development of this subject is an internally consistent body of work, based on clearly stated philosophical principles.
From a client’s point of view, the work begins by meeting with a practitioner (facilitator) for an intake interview. From the information gathered in this interview, the facilitator makes a plan to address the issues of concern to the client (viewer). Some viewers come in with their attention on one particular traumatic event, maybe a recent one, which can be effectively addressed using Traumatic Incident Reduction. Ideally, the viewer and facilitator have the opportunity to do a complete Life Stress Reduction Program, designed specifically to meet the needs of that viewer.
Freud once said that the purpose of psychotherapy was to take people from “hysterical misery to normal unhappiness”. The first stage of Applied Metapsychology work (including Traumatic Incident Reduction and Life Stress Reduction) is designed to take people from anywhere on the scale of “hysterical misery – normal human unhappiness” to a point of satisfaction and resolution.
Beyond that, in the second phase of Applied Metapsychology, we move into the realm of personal growth, enhanced abilities, and the exploration of full human potential. Since Applied Metapsychology work is considered to be educational in nature, this extensive piece of work is called the viewing “curriculum”.
When it is Not Advisable to Use Applied Metapsychology:
Observation shows that Applied Metapsychology (AMP) is beneficial for most people, with a few exceptions, outlined below. This assumption is based on the provision that they are working with a facilitator who is working within the rules of Applied Metapsychology methods and techniques.
- Clients who have ongoing problems with drugs or alcohol need to be stably off such substances before effective work can begin.
- Certain kinds of medications don’t work well with AMP viewing techniques. In general, these fall into the category of sedatives, strong pain-killers, and major and minor tranquilizers. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been found not to interfere with the work, since they do not tend to reduce awareness.
- Clients who have a psychiatric disorder that interferes with their ability to mentally focus do not make good candidates for AMP techniques.
- Clients who are not themselves interested in being helped, but who have been sent to work with an AMP facilitator by an outside party, for instance, a concerned relative or the courts, will not make expected progress unless and until their interest and willingness to do the work can be engaged.
- Clients in life situations that are too painful or threatening to permit them to concentrate on anything else are unable to be effective viewers. Such individuals may benefit from AMP Consultation to develop some strategies for managing daily life before beginning the the work of viewing.
By design, Applied Metapsychology training is open to members of the public without prior education in the field of mental health. Due to its clearly structured methods, person-centered paradigm, and the safeguards built into its rules of practice, Applied Metapsychology, including Traumatic Incident Reduction, is uniquely well-suited for use in community mental health settings and in peer counseling. This serves the purpose of bringing these simple yet highly effective methods of personal development to the widest possible audience. For further information on this subject, see:
- A Psychologist Addresses Potential Concerns of the Mental Health Community, by John Durkin, PhD
- Applied Metapsychology: Therapy or Personal Growth, by Frank A. Gerbode, MD
At this time, the basic workshops have now been translated into seven different languages, and are being offered around the world. More countries around the world are receiving benefits of training every year. AMI maintains responsibility for the programs and their content, ensuring that basic standards in the training are upheld.
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