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Psycho-Semantic Model

What is Psycho-Semantics?  

'Psycho-Semantics' is a complete model of behavioural/cognitive functioning. The name derives from two words: PSYCHO ('of the mind') and SEMANTICS ('the study of meaning'). We are interested here, in how the mind derives meaning from experience. The model comprises an integrated structure of theoretical sub-models, conceptual devices and an operational methodology.

The primary use of this model is in the field of implementing human change. This can be within a variety of contexts such as Psychotherapy; Personal and Professional Developmental; or Conflict Mediation. Problems are seen as rigid patterns of thought, behaviour, or emotional-response that require the introduction of new elements to enable more adaptable patterns to develop.     In their most basic form, problems are defined as a connection between a stimulus (external or internal) and an unwanted mode of response. When the mind is faced with a new situation, the unconscious prepares a range of optional responses based on prior experience with similar situations. When the situation is threatening and has no prior correlate, the conscious mind either reacts in an empowered way, by taking control of the search for a solution, or it abdicates responsibility and retreats to a child-like state of emotional distress and/or cognitive disempowerment. A disempowered response pattern is learned and this then becomes the response-template for future similar situations.   

The process of breaking these associative links, and replacing them with a connection to a more empowered response pattern, implicitly underlies many other therapy models. Some may discern parallels with analysis. However, our approach is solution-focused and differs radically from the analytical model in that originating events are not seen as causing problems through an incomplete process of repression, but simply as having generated a learned pattern that is counterproductive. From our perspective, it makes no biological sense to have an unconscious whose principle purpose is to sabotage the conscious. On the contrary, the role of the unconscious, here, seems to be to assist the conscious in choosing the best response to a situation. If the results sometimes seem like self-sabotage, that is because the unconscious learning processes are often primitive and the learned response patterns are not subject to critical re-appraisal. In cybernetics language, this learning process has no feedback path.    

Hypnosis in its 'informal' or 'permissive' form is a core part of our operational methodology. For a fuller discussion of hypnosis, see the 'Hearing Voices' paper on auditory hallucinations. Briefly hypnosis is the special use of a naturally occurring mental state in which critical faculties are suspended; knowledge of surroundings fades; self-awareness moves from a 'real world' persona to an inner, imagined self, and the intentional mind becomes passive to internal or externally generated stimuli. Dreaming and meditation could fulfil these criteria. Only the source of stimuli differs, and in hypnosis this is, of course, the hypnotist.     Most of what are generally regarded as essential components of a hypnotic session we consider superfluous. Our therapists are trained to regard 'trance induction' as assisting a client to enter the above state. We believe the manipulative approach, as used by stage hypnotists, can severely impair the essential client/therapist rapport, without which successful change is unlikely.     The principle use of hypnosis, in our methodology, is to facilitate an experience of the problem situation with an alternative response. This can then lead on to the development of a completely new response pattern, which becomes as automatic and unconscious as the original.   

Of necessity, this is a very simplified summary of the Psycho-Semantic model and how it is implemented. In practice the changes are usually brought about in an incremental manner enabling the desired response pattern to be constructed from new cognitive, behavioural and emotional links. Most clients can expect to see positive changes within three sessions, and a complete solution between six and ten sessions. Psycho-Semantic therapy is a pragmatic, empirical and 'client-centred' approach. The therapist looks at how the problem manifests in the client's life, and what factors keep it in place. Most importantly, the client is helped to define their success criteria in very specific terms. Treatment interventions, though formally structured, are 'tailored' to each individual client's needs.    Lastly, the model recognises the fact that it is only a model, and is subject to regular revision in the light of the results it generates.

Therapy Overview and Problem Index

PSI offer three main areas of therapeutic help: Solution Focused Counselling; Brief Psychotherapy and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy.

What is Solution Focused Counselling?

This is a pro-active form of counselling that assists you in identifying what changes you need in your life with the emphasis on helping you find the resources that are required to achieve these changes. Our therapists avoid lengthy analysis of your past by concentrating on how your problems occur in the present and what sort of changes you would like in the future.

What is Brief Psychotherapy?

Brief Psychotherapy comprises a family of therapies with common features. They are all 'objective-oriented'. Having identified your 'starting-point' and your intended 'destination' we have a wide range of techniques to help you get there. Brief psychotherapy is a fast, effective approach to human behavioural change using the power of your imagination and a well-proven and eclectic methodology which includes elements of Gestalt; NLP; Transactional Analysis; Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy; Systemic Family Therapy; Dreamwork and Psycho-Semantics. The term 'Brief' comes from the average number of sessions (less than 10).

What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnosis is one of the techniques that our therapists use to enable them to speed the process of change. There is nothing ‘magical’ about it. The hypnotic trance allows the therapist to communicate directly with your unconscious learning processes thus enabling you to learn new thinking habits and behaviours easily and quickly. In Ericksonian Hypnotherapy there are no 'gimmicks' employed to induce the trance state, no flashing lights, dangling pendulums or staring eyes. The therapist simply talks to you until your unconscious feels comfortable about entering the trance state which it then does at its own pace, naturally and easily. Remember, trance is not essential for effective change, it simply speeds-up the process.

How Effective Are These Techniques?

We have many satisfied clients and although no form of therapy is 100% successful, we are confident that most problems will respond to this highly focused approach, especially when compared with longer-term psychotherapy, psycho-analysis or traditional counselling.