by John Durkin, PhD
The views and opinions expressed in these articles and interviews are those of the individuals speaking, and do not necessarily represent those of Applied Metapsychology International
The training courses, techniques and materials offered by AMI have enabled many people without formal qualifications in a mental-health discipline to rapidly develop the skills to become confident and effective in resolving psychological distress. As an organization, we acknowledge the expertise of those other professions that traditionally deal with mental-health issues. We do ask everyone who trains on our materials to try out the paradigm that allows the techniques of Applied Metapsychology, including TIR, to work well. We also ask that practitioners refrain from calling any method TIR or Applied Metapsychology that do not conform to this paradigm. We are happy to welcome those who may already be a part of the mental-health system and recognize our responsibility not to interfere with the knowledge and skills other professionals bring to those they treat.
Where any possible conflict between methods becomes apparent, we believe it is important for the client to determine his or her course of action without pressure from our practitioners; we present opportunities for listening, not advice on what is best. We do not, despite many years of witnessing successful resolution and growth in distressed clients, make claims for which no formal evidence exists. While the research evidence for our work is modest in volume as yet, it is being developed, and we are committed to an open, transparent and responsible process that employs standardized, validated and reliable measures of distress and growth. We encourage our practitioners to become involved in gathering data for research purposes and to do so in line with published ethical guidelines. All research should be undertaken with the agreement of the Chair of the Research Committee to ensure adherence to current standards.
In order to increase the confidence of those whose professional interests lie in seeing unhappy and distressed people live self-determined and happy lives following the setback of a traumatic experience, it has been of paramount importance to establish a code of conduct, ethics and practice that is as stringent as those of professional psychiatric and psychological bodies. This code has been written to align with the principles established by the American Psychological Association, the Australian Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society and others, for their members.
Typically, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are trained to diagnose and treat what they see as psychological disorder. A psychiatrist’s career is likely to consist of many years of training in diagnostic skills, psychological training and drug treatment. Clinical psychologists make a similar commitment to their discipline and tend to specialize in modifying their clients’ distressing thoughts and actions. Both will have undergone years of postgraduate training and then be expected to develop professionally with ongoing supervision. While Applied Metapsychology philosophy differs from the medical way of thinking about distress, the notion of continuing professional development and technical supervision is one that we endorse and expect our members to pursue.
We believe that the techniques we teach can resolve a great deal of the distress associated with what are described as mental disorders and illnesses. They may, therefore, become of interest to mental-health professionals who think in this medical way. We would welcome such professionals to our training but wish to point out the following:
- Our philosophy does not encourage thinking of victims or survivors as patients, nor of their reactions being symptoms of a disorder or mental illness.
- Technical training involves intensive and repeated exercises in communication, extended listening and the recognition of emotional change during sessions.
- We take a person-centered approach and so put the client and their expressed interest at the heart of what we do. Traumatic material is only considered if the client initiates its disclosure and wishes to pursue its meaning and resolution.
Careful and stringent safeguards built into the subject of Applied Metapsychology allow for the training of non-mental health professionals and the means exist for their attaining a high degree of competence through internship and supervision. One of the essential safeguards is that of practitioners knowing when to refer clients to people with more experience and training in dealing with certain kinds of cases. The structure and safety built into the subject make it well suited for community mental health and peer co-counseling circumstances.
In summary, Applied Metapsychology and TIR offer methods and techniques that are usable by a large number of people, including mental health professionals. Both the paradigm unique to the subject and the specific well-tested techniques themselves can provide practitioners with a satisfying leap forward in effectiveness.