By: Martin Daniel, MD
It’s easier for health professionals and most patients to use drugs as a substitute for change. Alcohol, nicotine or prescription anti-depressants and stimulants are easier than applying intelligence, focus and analytical skills to complex relationships. Drugs are also cheaper for patients (in the short term) and more profitable for health professionals. But there are consequences …
Tel: +42 060 4506 511
“The Soul of Soulwork refers to integrity and sense of life, not to a religion or philosophy.”
Soulwork provides relationship diagnosis and systemic coaching that can effectively relieve many symptoms of emotional and mental disorders.
We provide coaching and coach training. We help people manage negative emotions and solve relationship problems.
Contact us if you would like to organize training.
Requirements for Lasting Change
Martyn Carruthers integrated and developed information from success coaching, systemic family therapy, Logotherapy, gestalt therapy, expert modeling, native Hawaiian healing (huna kalani), chaos theory and Annegret Hallanzy’s VoVa). (Click HERE for more about the origins of this work).
Carruthers modeled these sources using (and improving) the modeling skills associated with systems theory, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and expert modeling. The result is Soulwork Systemic Coaching – which appears to be a complete format for resolving or managing symptoms of emotional and relationship problems, and sometimes even symptoms of physical disease.
I didn’t believe this until people with high credentials vouched for it. I attended a training with Martyn Carruthers in Prague, Czech Republic. He taught a simple sequence:
|Manage emotions that prevents clear thinking
|Dissolve unwanted guilt that prevents peaceful action
|Resolve conflicts that prevent congruent decisions
|Dissolve unwanted relationship bonds that restrict choice
|Resolve emotional trauma or abuse that delay progress
|Replace inappropriate mentors who inspire senseless action
Soulwork is about solving emotional and relationship problems. Examples of systemic symptoms include chronic emotions, psychosomatic disease and learning disorders. These symptoms often seem to compensate for relationship deficiencies, particularly with (but not limited to) parents, partners and children.
Some relationships appear to require mental, emotional or physical diseases for those relationships to continue. Without these symptoms, those relationships would dramatically change. As a conscious awareness of a need for disease symptoms would threaten those relationships, such awareness is taboo. To avoid this awareness, people distract themselves from acknowledging their relationship constraints. Such distractions are called objections in Soulwork. Many people object to healthy relationships … and may sabotage their own happiness to fulfill their objections.
People who attend Soulwork training either grow up or quit. Most grow up.
Think of objections as “unconscious goals”. Soulwork accepts objections with kind attention, instead of ignoring or dissociating them. Verbal objections include excuses, justifications and blame, and a range of non-verbal interruptions. (A common objection is “Yes-No” – a verbal statement accompanied by non-verbal negation. An example is saying “Yes” while shaking the head “No“.) I found that the Soulwork tools for handling objections were effective in individual and couple counseling, teamwork and family therapy. (These skills are useful in interviews, negotiations and sales.)
After dissolving all objections, a person is free to make a desired change, while experiencing a state of integrity, in which a person can make congruent decisions about all parts of life. This experience is wonderful – and beyond words. Carruthers calls it connectedness and sense of life, to which I agree. Many people (even without religious backgrounds) called this experience Soul, which motivated Carruthers to call his work Soulwork.
Soulwork includes a format for effective relationship diagnosis. Instead of focusing on mental or physical disease symptoms, Carruthers focused on the relationships that generate symptoms. Systemic diagnosis requires an ability to make distinctions between relationship experiences – amongst the expressions of love, guilt, conflict, transference, identification, relationship bonds, trauma and mentorship.
“Recognizing a symptom is easy” says Carruthers “and recognizing a cause may bring some peace. However, long-term recovery usually requires changing one or more relationships. Otherwise symptoms return, or new symptoms arise, to compensate for the confusion”.
An example of a confused relationship would be a partner who resembles an opposite-sex parent; a partner who rescued a person from some situation; and a partner who encourages unhealthy behavior. Long-term recovery may require that a patient make fundamental relationship changes. The severity of the symptoms can then be “controlled” by the patient – and the patient decides how much and how long to suffer.
Patients with advanced acute or degenerative disease may be unable to control their symptoms. Many people wait until the last moment before they call for help, and the last moment may be too late. Soulwork can, however, help terminally ill people prepare for a peaceful “thank you and goodbye” to life.
An early step of Soulwork is to help people clarify their relationships. For example, after clarification a patient may perceive a partner as a partner, not as a parent, sibling or child. (That may bring immediate relief for some psychosomatic symptoms).
There is more. The result is not only alleviation of symptoms. New qualities for the family can be found. These new qualities may be described as peace, calmness, relief, enlightenment and life purpose. This is important in treating depression, as Dr Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy demonstrates.
Soulwork is becoming popular amongst people who offer alternative guidance for life problems. Carruthers offers sets of procedures for resolving symptoms of chronic disease, emotional problems, phobias and obsessions and for resolving personal and business relationship difficulties.
Soulwork is not a panacea for all complaints. Instead it helps clarify the difficulties and limitations of therapeutic treatment. While it cannot replace damaged or missing tissue and while it has limited influence upon dementia or psychosis, it can often resolve long-term emotional conflicts.
Soulwork Systemic Coaching evaluates life from many perspectives. In the training I attended in Prague, three perspectives particularly interested me: connectedness, emotional integrity and mental integrity.
Carruthers proposed that human consciousness represents a system of relationships – usually of the early family. This relationship system persists as interconnected, emotionally charged, visual, auditory and kinesthetic images. Evaluating and changing the representations of a relationship system automatically changes the perceptual habits that monitor and filter external reality – and hence changes the experience of reality – which spontaneously changes values, beliefs and behavior.
The consequences of removing symptoms are generally predictable. For example, disease symptoms may serve many functions in a family, and the loss of symptoms by one person (or the loss of one person) may require that another person in the system become ill, unless the system is changed.
While most representations of relationship systems seem to be unconscious, emotions are conscious. People often search for ways to ignore, express, withhold or dissociate negative emotions. Many people turn to prayer and meditation. Others turn to self-medication, controlling emotions with nicotine and alcohol, or to obsessive or compulsive distractions and addictions. Carruthers said that most addictions appear to be ways that people compensate for relationship problems and controlling the subsequent negative emotions.
Clarifying a relationship system allows many withheld or dissociated emotions to be experienced and expressed by its members. Soulwork includes coaching tools for expressing emotions appropriately.
Ideas are presented on a spectrum of certainty, from vague ideas to unquestionable beliefs. The importance of beliefs can be presented on a spectrum of values, from “Who cares?” to “I would die to protect that belief!” The personalities that identify with values can be presented as nodes in a relationship matrix – each node with a spectrum of actualization within a human system. A personality represents a set of choices about how to survive in the world perceived through these filters. The perceived world will rarely be the same as the real world. A map is not a territory.
Theory of Soulwork
“When immature people realize what healthy relationships actually require,
they often justify their suffering and use crazy logic to reject healthier possibilities.
Immature people may cling to their symptoms.” Martyn Carruthers
As Soulwork is founded upon observation; its theoretical structure is still evolving. Carruthers attempts to describe pathological phenomena in terms of relationship dynamics. In a training in Czech Republic, Carruthers focused on (1) Goals, (2) Objections, and (3) Decisions.
(1) Goals: Many people do not know what they want, or only know what they don’t want, or have incompatible goals, or have abstract goals with little sense of reality. Soulwork includes goalwork for creating action plans that include both real-life decisions and therapeutic interventions.
(2) Objections: People censor both internal and external information, and hide from consciousness information that may disrupt important relationships. Attempts to bring this information to conscious awareness will provoke objections that prevent the discovery of relationship issues. Goalwork utilizes a person’s objections as inner mentors to goal formation, until all objections are satisfied.
(3) Decisions: People who repress or dissociate negative emotions may lose contact with feelings such as motivation, understanding and caring. In Soulwork, a partial lack of internal perception is called Identity Loss, and a complete loss is referred to as Lost Identity. (Reduced inner perception in certain contexts seems more common). Carruthers helps people use their feelings and thoughts simultaneously when making decisions.
Carruthers described an experience with a woman diagnosed with stomach cancer. At first, she pleaded for help. As the woman understood her relationships, however, she realized that she used her cancer to punish her ex-husband (blaming him for the cancer), to manipulate her adult children (claiming she had taken their sins into her body) and to follow her mother (who had died of cancer). The woman decided that she would rather die rather than attempt to clarify her difficult family relationships.
Family Constellations as taught by Bert Hellinger, has a resonance with basic Soulwork, although Hellinger’s family constellations did not include Carruthers’ models of goalwork, identity loss, relationship bonds, trauma and mentorship.
Soulwork Coach Training
Soulwork training includes convincing demonstrations. (Carruthers prefers to demonstrate Soulwork with volunteers who do not know what to expect.) Carefully avoiding suggestion, Carruthers elicited each person’s entanglements and repeatedly proved his claims.
The training includes many fascinating concepts, such as gentle provocation, interactive metaphors, identity bonds and mentorship, all of which can be applied in individual, couple, team or family coaching.
Systemic relationship skills may also be applied in fields in which relationships are important, such as teamwork, anthropology, education, history, literature and religion. With its deep insights into relationship behavior, Soulwork could better connect psychology to other life sciences.
About the author: Dr. Martin Daniel maintains a medical practice in Havlickuv Brod, Czech Republic. (Telephone +42 0604 506 511 during business hours).