We are proud to announce that this month brings with it our 30th year as a private practice. We’ve grown from a small practice, based in Birmingham UK, into an organization with a strong national presence as well as an international voice/influence across all continents.
We are primarily a mental health organisation offering a holistic and integrative approach, which means we do not believe you can mend the mind without also tending to the other aspects of an individual’s health and well-being. Our philosophy is clearly documented in what we describe as The Story of Health.
We work across all sectors – with numerous charities, in schools, hospices, colleges, universities, with private and statutory sector institutions, as well as small community based organisations and those in the corporate sectors… and the list goes on.
We have worked face to face with literally tens of thousands of individuals, amassing hundreds of thousands of hours of client experience. This is the strength of our model because it’s not built purely on theory, it is built on the evidence of face to face experience.
We work with individuals, couples, families and groups from all racial, economic and cultural backgrounds. We have a ‘practice based evidence’ approach, which means we have constructed a model that has largely been informed by our clinical experience. This does not mean that we ignore research; on the contrary, you can see research runs through the veins of our website and the hundreds of audio-visual and written resources we’ve produced. However, the typical therapeutic model is largely built on ‘evidence based practice’, which essentially says until we have the evidence, ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ is, doesn’t exist or is questionable, and remains outside the boundaries of credibility. We think that this approach ignores so much of what is actually true and effective – because we’re not yet able to prove something does not mean it does not exist.
Consider the following example… we ‘know’ when we love someone or feel deeply and passionately about something. And until recently, with the developments of cognitive neuroscience, these emotions could not be measured. We can now, with the use of MRI scans, see some of what’s going on in the brain. We can measure certain hormones and monitor various neurochemicals and as a consequence, science can now say that we have the ‘evidence’ that we love someone or feel passionately about something – because our instruments of science tell us that this is the case. But wasn’t it the case before that? Didn’t the evidence of our experience and possibly our shared experience with others already tell us this was true?
This, we believe, is one of the limitations of science. It often denies what is described as subjective experience, because it is ‘only’ the individual’s experience, which is not deemed to be evidence as it can be coloured by so many other factors. And although this is true, it’s no less true for evidence based practice, where the same biases and prejudices exist and where the very act of observing something can change the thing being scrutinised and influence research outcomes – see the developments in noetic sciences and neurotheology.
Quantum physics has helped us to understand that the moment we are observing, examining or interrogating something, whatever our modus operandi, we are impacting, influencing, even changing the outcome. And so whatever our vehicle for observation and scrutiny, there is a relationship taking place between consciousness and life that cannot be denied. This is why an evidence based practice approach is not in our experience, a superior form of analysis – valuable yes, which is why we employ it in our work, but equally valuable is practice based evidence because even with its limitations and potential flaws, it gives invaluable data about the human experience. And so a system that includes both is infinitely better.
The debate about the best way to measure human experience, using internal frames of reference or external frames of reference has been well documented in the sociological literature and as a result there are primarily two schools of thought; positivism and interpretivism. The interpretivist looks at things from the more subjective, experiential end of the continuum, whereas the positivist researcher examines and evaluates using more traditional, empirical methodologies.
The positivist approach is therefore for many seen as more scientific and as a consequence having more credibility. Interpretivism on the other hand, is much more concerned with the experiencer and his/her perception/reality. The individual’s experience is seen as no less valid in this school of thought and may even be more telling. The arguments continue about which findings are of more value to the evolution of science and human understanding. Again, we think greater value is to be had from the merger of both.
So we have done our best over the last 30 years to build a model, approach and tradition that respects the current scientific methods and findings but is not limited by them, as we equally draw on the valuable experience of being human, acknowledging that the information we can extract from subjective data is both insightful and transformative. This has certainly been our experience.
If you like what we are doing then please help us to spread this message. As you know, most of what we do is free and where we do charge for our services and resources, our fees are modest.
We will never let go of our mantra, ‘principle before profit’.