If you have a website you probably know that the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK now has the same power over what we have on our websites as they did over what we put in hard copy ads in magazines and directories. So far, so good. No one wants untruthful claims to be blessed or even ignored. Decent, honest, legal… sounds fair enough.
But is it so black and white?
Having started out left-brained, proof-needy in a deterministic Western scientific mould, I do understand about putting our proof where our mouths are. It is not okay to make wild claims without evidence of efficacy.
But what I have also come to understand in my long journey from left brain to right is that many therapies are not good material for traditional Western scientific proof. Good science demands that we treat every subject in an experimental group in exactly the same way. Good integrative therapy demands that we treat every client in our practices in a different way, determined by our informed guess about what will work best for each person who walks through our office door.
So that is the first stumbling block to the otherwise sound idea that we have to “prove” our therapy works. And it is why people coming from a hard science background find it difficult to accept our kind of evidence as genuine proof.
The second is placebo. Until a few decades ago, doctors did not have a lot more to offer many of their patients than a good bedside manner and a sugar pill in a choice of colours. (“No, doctor. I find the red ones are much better for me than the blue.” ) Now it is illegal to prescribe a placebo. We have to be transparent. Medications must list all known side-effects despite the nocebo effect, and not only on hypochondriacs. Drugs companies also have to reveal the studies where their drug did little better than placebo – or risk Freedom of Information exposure.
I favour transparency. But a little bit of me regrets the loss of this systematic harnessing of the ability the body often has do its own healing, given the right conditions.
For right conditions read “sugar pill” or “therapist reassurance.” Our therapeutic equivalent to the sugar pill is what we tell clients we can do. When a client rings or emails to ask if we have had experience of dealing with a certain condition and what results we have had, honesty demands that we tell them that what happened last time doesn’t not predict what will happen when we work with them. Or they will ask: “Does EFT work for …. “ What they want to hear, and might also have enough of a placebo effect to make the difference is: “Yes.”
Despite my awe of how humans can do placebo and my desire to harness it in my work, I have always felt compelled to say something like: “Everyone is different . I cannot give you any sort of a guarantee about you. But I am willing to try it you would like to.“ And I add: “In any case EFT doesn’t work with conditions. It works with people who have conditions.” I am sure I have lost clients to a better sales pitch.
But is even that enough? Now, hard on the heels of the change in the law, some scientists have been competing to see who can report most alternative therapists successfully to the Advertising Standards Authority. And some therapists have been sharing their concerns about suspected attempts at entrapment. When you have an unusual but identical enquiry several times in a few days, you do wonder.
If I am truthful and careful and measured in what I say I can offer do I have anything to worry about? Yes. I do. It is this. I find I have started to read emails and listen to calls from prospective clients not just with openness and honesty but with suspicion. And I hate it. It is not where I want to be in my relationships with clients or prospective clients – reading/hearing a story and wondering if the author has invented it to try to trap me.
I believe I am decent, honest, legal. But am I a better therapist for having to be so careful that I might offend a group of scientists with an agenda to protect clients from therapists not conforming with their view of the world?
New developments on the EFT Masterclass 2011 on October 22/12 in York:
You can book now at the best price and pay in instalments from now until September. To do it go to http://www.eftevents.com . While you are there click on my page. I have added a podcast of How to turn EFT your inner critic into your tapping buddy and a pdf on Working with imaginary memories. Both free.
Other presenters are: Sue Beer, Jaqui Crooks, Gwymeth Moss, Tania Prince. Emma Roberts, and Ann Ross, There are pdfs or podcasts on some of their pages already and more being added all the time.