Questions Asked About Af-x
It's tempting to call these 'frequently asked questions' like other information sites. But they are questions that are not so frequently asked. We must be doing our preparatory work well! These are more detailed questions that have found their way to Af-x therapists, both here in Australia and abroad, and those that have come directly to me.
This is quite a thorough listing of the sorts of questions that have been asked about the therapy by people who are either more interested, or perhaps concerned about some aspects of an approach that is - let's face it - unconventional yet groundbreaking.
You are invited to wend your way through this listing which is not in any particular order of importance or particular blocks of interest. I hope you find your answers here. ... Ian White
Before delving into this long list of questions and answers, it is important to present this preamble below, that presents the base of understanding about Af-x and therefore is the foreword to any of the answers presented.
All aspects of Af-x philosophy and treatment approach are strongly invested in the fact that all our habitual responses, our emotional, mental, attitudinal and psychosomatic displacements or “parts out of balance” (culturally known as disease, disorder, illness, problems or “issues”) are driven from pure unconscious levels of mind. This intellectual investment reasons, by default, that approaches toward “rebalancing” or curing can be dealt with only at unconscious level, and that conscious (cognitive) strategies, and even narrative reporting of symptoms or process can and do interfere with pure subconscious rehabilitation. The Af-x approach very specifically rejects the usual therapeutic narrative reporting and “talk therapy” approaches as a matter of respect for the unconscious mind and respect for the conscious ego-driven mind’s desire to control that which it most definitely can not. Af-x research acknowledges that any therapy involved with discussing symptoms or autobiography (life story) activates the conscious mind as superior and deactivates the true unconscious, the aspect of mind that always requires the “rebalancing” and curing. It also acknowledges that talking about and naming symptoms only consolidates a persons’ attention and (often) fear of them, inhibiting corrective kinetic action.
The above statement should be taken as a precursor to all discussion related to Af-x.
_ Why the name “Af-x”?
Af-x is a stylized word that derives from the word “affect,” “affects” and “affective.” Affect is defined as “a class of human emotions and feelings that can not necessarily be verbalized.” While traditional therapy relies upon describing, analyzing and defining our feelings and emotions before those emotions can be “worked on,” Af-x stands by modern neuroscience that shows that our deepest feelings – the ones that really drive all our experience, responses and habits – can never be clearly and authentically explained using language. The Af-x paradigm therefore focuses on ‘nuclear affect’ – that is, feeling learnings that have been established at a (first-ever) preverbal time in our development.
What is Affectology?
Affectology (nuclear – as in ‘at the nucleus’) is the modern science of understanding the dynamic that really drives all our recognizable emotions and feelings. It is partly, but clearly, supported by the research of “affective neuroscience,” which shows that we begin to learn our feeling responses and reactions in early infancy, before we can speak or understand language, and that these learnings are carried forward into adult life as unconscious trace memory responses. This then means that we are subsequently, as adults, driven, or at least influenced, by unconscious response dynamics that can not be verbalised – spoken about. But we know they’re there, because we feel and experience the results. Furthermore, affectology investigates the way in which all our feelings and emotions, no matter how slight, have an influence over our physical and biological selves.
But although the theories surrounding non-verbal affect learning are sound and definite, our society has not readily accepted them. This is the product of decades – even centuries – of reliance on the belief that all aspects of the human condition need to be analyzed, understood, and put into narrative form.
The ingrained perceptions of society, and more so, professional psychotherapy that insist on talking, reporting and dredging past information, are not those of Af-x practitioners, particularly in the business of modulating non-verbal feeling aspects of self. In fact, in many cases this approach actually thwarts intended healing outcomes.
What is an Affectologist?
An affectologist is one who has successfully studied the way in which we humans learn our earliest feeling (affect) imprints, habituate them and carry them on into adult life, to a greater or lesser degree.
While mainstream therapy focuses on the surface experiences (viz stories we can tell about ourselves, descriptions of our emotions and habitual patterns, etc), an affectologist operates on the basis that our most important affect drivers – the learned responses that inform all our experiences today – can not be verbalized, can not be understood and nor can they be “worked on” by using language and narrative ‘uncovering.’
Generally, an affectologist understands that conscious level discussion doesn’t scratch the surface of the real subconscious feeling self, and that ‘the talking cure’ is ineffective when the problem is emotional in cause.
What is an Af-x Practitioner?
Given the science of “authentic feeling” of the affectologist, an Af-x Practitioner is a person who has received and successfully completed extensive training in helping people ‘turn around’ and re-learn the unconscious affect-level responses that are interfering with our leading comfortable, stable and balanced emotional and physical lives. – see ‘mind viruses and the sweep’
Yet, additional to this – and perhaps the single most important facet of the Af-x practitioner – the one that sets them apart from almost all other practitioners – is the study of, the respect for, and the attendance to what are named our unconscious task drivers and parts drivers. These are true unconscious aspects of our mind that have the job of ensuring that we are kept in a stable dynamic (in this case, “stable” doesn’t necessarily mean good or comfortable; it just means unchanging). Parts and task drivers are most commonly ignored in almost all other approaches to “therapy,” yet these “drivers” are usually what prevents change for the better. As examples, some parts drivers are: avoidance, sabotage, procrastination, cleverness, untruthfulness, attention-seeking and responsibility-shifting.
Af-x practitioners do not engage in any other form of counseling or therapy, as almost all other therapies, by default, operate in direct opposition to Af-x’s task to bring about balance to the human non-verbal emotional experience.
Is Af-x a therapy?
In traditional and time-honored terms Af-x is a true therapy, but when we consider what that term ‘therapy’ has grown to mean in our culture (over the last 100 or so years), we prefer to use ‘treatment’ or ‘program’. A careful study of the science of memetics and all that surrounds the principles of C.I.C. (cultural information contagion) and C.C.I. (collective cognitive imperative) shows us that if our society has grown to believe certain things about the words and terms we use, then we follow the belief rather than the fact. In order to look deeper into this, one has only to consider what the messages are that we get whenever the word ‘therapy’ is used in common communication. Not always (the caveat), but most often, we unthinkingly convert the word to mean several of many things, all of which have developed over a short time in the history of man, in erroneous and non-useful ways.
We can instantly relegate any number of less useful ideas to the word, some of which are:-
Af-x Practitioners see their work as being the ultimate in self-help – with an attendant.
Is Af-x about “positive thinking?
Rene Descartes coined the phrase, Cogito ergo sum, which translates into I think; therefore I am. This has become an accepted philosophical (and bio-medical) cry in our culture, in all fields of activity, including 'health'. But science has now shown us that our 'thinking selves' constitutes only a small portion of how our minds work. In affectology, we adopt the phrase, I FEEL; therefore I am, based on the knowledge that our affect (feeling) self is far more powerful in the maintenance or otherwise of our health and mental wellbeing, than is “the thinking self.”
No matter how well we might train ourselves to “think” differently, the non-verbal emotional self remains unaffected by that cognitive “positive training.”
Nevertheless, Af-x practitioners do not denigrate the proposition that “positive thinking” is a good thing if it works, but we are interested in helping those people who understand that “if positive thinking were all that was required, we could all just think ourselves better – heal through thinking.
If you can simply “think yourself better” then you have no need of an Af-x practitioner, or any other assistance for that matter.
Why is Af-x called a “program?”
Like all of life’s best lessons, there is only so much that can be said, and only so much information that is optimal for the mind to be able to “make an internal decision” to change its mind about habitual responses and feelings.
Feedback research over many years of trial and development has discovered that this “optimal” delivery is best served within the space of three carefully structured segments of “attendance.”
Rather than become seduced by the complexity of the ability for the conscious mind to avoid change (through unconscious “task driver” influence) and thus spend session after session attempting to work things through from that conscious narrative level, Af-x is designed (through experiential trials and longitudinal research) to specifically access unconscious learned processes.
Af-x practitioners view treatment as being the delivery of a “reminder message to the unconscious” of its inherent and “already given” ability to re-learn based on new information. Af-x practitioners also see that continued session work, however well-meaning, simply allows for our unconscious procrastination “task drivers” to have a field day, putting off change simply because “I can do it next time I have a session.”
The social understanding of the word “session” in psychotherapy denotes processing and “tasking” at some sort of proactive level. We prefer to use the words that imply that there is no conscious processing to be done – no proactive “trying.” It’s for that reason we prefer the term program and segments or visits, as that assists with the rejection of the implications that classical “sessions” in therapy present.
Interestingly, one client proclaimed that she realised that Af-x is an “anti-processing process.” I would not have put it in exactly that way, but it’s pretty close.
Where Did Af-x Come From?
The architect of the modern Af-x approach is Ian White, Sydney practitioner and academic. His path has involved Bukkyo Zen (philosophical - i.e. non-religious) studies and mindfulness meditation practice and teaching.
He has moved through a variety of therapies over four decades, all of which have involved human subconscious (unconscious) dynamics. These studies and practices, along with many years of research into the neuroscience of affect formation has culminated in a melding of these disciplines to form both affectology (the science of feeling) and Af-x (the science of feeling better!).
While there is no such thing as “a new therapy;” a “new wheel,” Af-x acknowledges that its approach is bred from a variety of intelligent and commonsense aspects of other treatments. So, it can be said that Af-x includes elements of:
Notwithstanding influences from without, Af-x can be said to be a true reflection of an attitude of “looking after self” and rejecting that which makes little sense. That attitude is soundly supported by neuroscience and philosophy, so Af-x is a true marriage of Eastern (Zen) philosophy and Western (neuroscience) research and findings. Ian White claims only to be the marriage celebrant.
What is the Fundamental Philosophy of Af-x?
As described above, Af-x stems from – is the practical application of – affectology, the study of how we build our “feeling” and emotional substructure well before we learn to think and use words. This, then, creates in the practice, a reflection of the affectology theory, and Af-x directs treatment exclusively toward affect (feeling) experience rather than verbal descriptive experience. Af-x prescribes (through its formative affectology basis) that our “thinking and talking selves” are not connected with and to our “feeling selves.”
Af-x practitioners believe that our unconscious abilities to “look after ourselves” and to re-balance those learnings that have become out of whack should be ultimately respected – in their entirety! We propose that a hundred and fifty years of psychotherapy has headed down the opposite path; labeling, pathologising, acting in a superior hierarchical fashion in the face of the perfection of the human spirit and soul. It’s for that reason we take courage in perceiving that Af-x is “the true therapy” and that others, particularly those that employ continued narrative, and respect only conscious capacities, have lost their way; - or at least, are interested in only part of the picture that is the whole human being.
The major differences (listed below) between Af-x and ALL other therapies are more opposites than they are mere differences.
While it seems rather unusual to call Af-x an “anti-therapy,” that term nonetheless gets across the idea that Af-x tenets oppose much of what our medicated and “talk-fest” culture has built as its notions about therapy.
The underlying (or “over-riding”) shout-line of Af-x is “Mind Over Chatter.”
The Philosophical Imperatives.
What are the Major Differences of Af-x (from other treat-ments)?
As already discussed, the differences from other treatments and therapies could be more distinctly described as being “opposites.” While this topic covers a vast set of principles and approaches, we endeavour to simplify this by offering the following:-
How Does Af-x Help?
By reminding the subconscious mind of its already existent capacity for change and reformation. As previously discussed, the important and vital aspect of Af-x is the absence of unnecessary “talk” that we usually associate with counselling and mainstream psychotherapy. That means it’s important for there to be no divulging of symptoms, autobiographical narrative or dredging up any past trauma, pains or discomfort. Af-x operates “in the now,” rather than using any regressive dynamics (of which conscious memory is one).
The Af-x “Mind Over Chatter” program involves a combination of conscious level information exchange and re-education (aimed at providing new knowledge, perspectives and understanding) in conjunction with a process of guidance for change (or ‘subconscious re-learning’) at a deeper feeling level. This conscious level interaction or component is vital in helping prepare you for change, and necessary for you to fully understand and feel comfortable with just how simply and easily the guidance process is conducted. During the “feeling” component of the program, the only rule with Af-x is: – don’t consciously interfere with the “message,” and don’t try to make anything happen.
The “process” of Af-x involves a form of self-attention that parallels, but is not, guided meditation. The Af-x practitioner aims to provide a simple ideal mind environment for private transactional dynamics at subconscious level.
The Af-x program is usually offered as either a brief 3-segment program or a more extended 3-tier program of coaching (7 segments in all), usually conducted over a short period of time. Your choice of program must be discussed with your practitioner prior to attending.
Af-x is the ultimate in self-help – with an attendant.
WHO Does Af-x Help?
While affectologists and Af-x Practitioners base all research and practice on the fact that all conditions and symptoms have some underlying affect (emotional) concomitant, we recognise that there’s a growing segment of the community who are becoming disenfranchised with the classical view that good therapy requires constant regurgitation of life’s history.
So, the “who” of this question could be:
In addition to the various “mental” and “emotional” problems (depression, anxiety, etc), there are numerous symptoms, conditions and difficulties, whether behavioural, attitudinal or physical, that are driven by and manifested due to underlying emotional causes. Af-x has the potential to help clients experience improvement and a positive difference to any symptom, problem or difficulty that has any emotional or feeling (affect) component.
In the thousands of feedback questionnaires received from Af-x clients, people have reported significant positive benefits in many areas of their lives. Some of the most commonly reported conditions that have shown improvement as a result of this approach are:
A Note about Psychosomatic (mind/body) symptoms.
It’s understandable and “usual” that we only seem to report for “therapy” when a symptom appears. Af-x has never claimed to be an approach that “cures” the sorts of conditions that “signal” that our whole selves are out of balance. It’s not in the best interests of you or your Af-x practitioner, for that matter, to attend Af-x with a view that “this will fix my migraines” or “this will cure my chronic fatigue,” and so on. Many therapies make claims to do so. Af-x does not. Yet, mostly we have sought out something like Af-x to fix what is our immediate pain. If this is the aim, then you must resort to a symptom-oriented therapy such as massage or drugs for symptom-specific in-the-body experiences. Af-x seeks to bring about a resolution to whatever might be an affect driver that created the symptom, either directly or indirectly (see the “Butterfly Effect”). Af-x helps with the cause; YOU cure the symptom.
In our modern society, there is no greater danger to our future health than the spectre of depression, in all its forms (chronic, clinical, acute, post-natal, pre-natal, bipolar, etc).
The World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2020, depression will be the primary killer of human beings (via suicide and other) of all ages and genders. Depression is even now creeping up the scale, closer to heart disease, as being the greatest hazard to human life. For this reason, if Af-x has to have a contemporary “target,” it is depression, for which it is ideal and highly successful as a mood regulator and moderator. In fact, Af-x has proven to be the treatment of choice for teenagers suffering depression.
Af-x is specifically designed to assist in any aspect of life that involves emotion or feeling, or is “driven” by emotion or feeling, either conscious or unconscious
How Do Af-x Practitioners do their Work?
With care to not appear superior or of greater wisdom, Af-x practitioners areeducators. Our mission is to inform. That said, the educative process is to simply tell of the “knowns” relating to subconscious emotional processes, where they come from, and why they affect our lives today below our awareness. So the task is to bring that “unawareness” to awareness; - not to “find out what it’s all about” – but to simply acknowledge existing processes and how we as human beings can make changes to those habituated processes quite simply, utilising resources that we already have, without the “drama” of ongoing therapy and injections of wisdom from others.
The final task of an Af-x practitioner is to gently steer the “reminding of the subconscious” in a way that allows for the optimum potential for change.
How Will Af-x Feel for Me?
As a specific for individuals, this is an unanswerable question. Every person experiences all facets of their internal and external lives in completely different ways from each other. But we can offer a general “median” experience of what Af-x generally feels like for the average person.
Before attending the Af-x program, there will be an insistence on your reading and understanding the approach information about the Af-x system of emotion coaching. That information is to be found here.
That insistence is re-assurance for you in understanding, and being comfortable with, the challenges that Af-x presents to the mainstream thinking about “therapy” and “self-help.” It ensures that you are much better prepared for those challenges and fundamental differences.
Your first segment of the program consists of time with the practitioner that simply consolidates all the understandings of what is actually “happening” at your subconscious emotional level.
Your experience of the specialised “mind over chatter” approach may feel as though you have been prevented from being heard by the practitioner because discussion of your problems will not be permitted. Some potential clients may consider this approach to be an abrogation of care from the practitioner: in fact, it is the opposite. The af-x practitioner does care that your privacy is respected by assisting you to take full responsibility for your own improved wellbeing. Many other clients describe this approach as “a relief.”
During this didactic time, your practitioner is trained to respect equality and not make you feel “lectured to.” This “instructive” time can not be avoided, as Af-x is fundamentally about helping for a deeper understanding of the role of unconscious affect responses and patterns. In the first visit, you will also be introduced to what Af-x practitioners describe as a “self-attention” procedure, that most people experience as “watching self with guidance.” Some say it is likened to guided meditation, yet simpler.
The second visit will sometimes (but not always) consist of two segments running one after the other. These segments are those in which the practitioner assists with help and guidance to re-learn original affect response learnings. Your practitioner will make every effort to sublimate the expectation of experience during those “self-attention” procedures:- that is, that “the Af-x way” is to focus on feelings, rather than the more common approach of other modalities that might facilitate expectation of the reliving (revivication) of traumatic episodes, or even any experience of “exhilarative healing” or “release” as an in-clinic experience.
The Af-x “way” is designed to not focus on particular events or experiences and to promote gentle and subtle rehabilitation of the affect self, and observe those changes over time. So, in the two last segments of the Af-x program, many people are happy to be trustful that their unconscious mind (subconscious) has gently processed the information given by the practitioner in a way that remains unconscious.
Notwithstanding this usual experience, some people have very specific private realizations that are new, revealing and relieving to them. There is no specific rule for “how Af-x feels” for you.
Isn't Af-x just another one of those trendy “emotional release” therapies?
While there are therapies that have the right general idea – that is, that no symptom or present-day disorder or problem can be wholly cured unless the cause is re-addressed – the approach and “target” of Af-x is different from those therapies. Other approaches, while claiming to bring about a “release” to the emotional cause, often have a symptomatic focus which shifts awareness away from the non-verbal true affect level of the unconscious. Af-x works at a subtle non-conscious, non-reportable level of mind that is cleverly eluded by the subconscious mind once any symptom-oriented narrative takes place between client and practitioner.
While Af-x practitioners believe that “the mind” is released from being stuck in a stable, habitual but unproductive pattern of affect being, we do not believe that the experience of that release is verifiable by anything other than a gradual observation of a change of life’s experience as a result of the private affect mind’s choice to change its early learnings.
So the major differences could be said to be that, in Af-x work, practitioners dissuade the actual “experience” of release during treatment in preference for the outcomes to be experienced over time as life unfolds. Also that, as Af-x practitioners do not allow discussion of symptoms, the client is not necessarily focused (either consciously or otherwise) on any “release” from the effects of that specific symptom.
While the OVERALL aim of Af-x is that release from old patterns, the further aim is for that to be subtle and ongoing.
The “release” in Af-x is a prolonged “life-experience” one, rather than an immediate sensational one.
What are the Aims and Goals of Af-x?
There are several aims of Af-x. But they all lead to the same place.
Fundamentally, and philosophically, we believe that presenting symptoms are “driven,” in a complex and often indiscernible way, by non-verbal affect learnings. The re-learning of the “drivers” brings about eventual positive change to the symptoms.
But Af-x also recognizes that the majority of our ills, our “conditions” and problems, particularly mental and emotional problems, stem from an inability to accept self as “being OK.” The fundamental aim is to restore already existing capacities to re-establish the perfect relationship with self – the core goal from which all other of life’s issues ensue.
To describe “the perfect outcome,” Af-x opposes the idea that negative emotions and issues should be totally expunged from our experience. This appears to be a foreign concept to the idea of “successful therapy,” but Af-x practitioners are interested in helping you find your own way to enjoy the ups and downs of everyday living experiences as temporary episodes, rather than being “stuck” in the negative (down-side) of natural emotion and the human condition. It may be said that the ultimate aim of Af-x is to help you learn to surf the waves rather than to try to still the ocean.
Rather than to “be in therapy” or “do therapy,” Af-x’s aim, then, is to re-educate and guide back toward inherent abilities ...
The main aim of Af-x is to assist in a return to an ability to “love self without words”.. to re-balance emotional discomfort.
What Outcomes & Results can I expect from Af-x?
This is another “unanswerable.” Everybody experiences the outcomes and results of Af-x in individual and private ways. The ideal (and usual) response that Af-x researchers get from people is one that indicates that they have begun slowly but surely to experience a greater level of calmness and “OK-ness” in their lives and to find a level of self-acceptance that they have not been able to previously experience.
Some people take their time with their results, sometimes depending on their level of “trying” (a no-no) or perhaps their level of self-observation (which introduces conscious analysis and potentially, judgement of themselves - another no-no). For many, the ongoing process is so subtle that they do not realise that significant change has taken place until they receive their feedback surveys several months after their Af-x program. Yet, for some people, their relief is immediate and significant. The aim of Af-x is to ensure that any changes for the better are enduring.
The “Butterfly Effect”
In Chaos Theory, the "Butterfly Effect" is explained as being:-
“the propensity of a system to be sensitive to initial conditions. Such systems over time become unpredictable; this idea gives rise to the notion of a butterfly flapping its wings in one area of the world, causing a tornado or some such weather event to occur in another remote area of the world.
Comparing this effect to what is called the domino effect is misleading. There is dependence on the initial sensitivity, but whereas a simple linear row of dominoes would cause one event to initiate another similar one, the butterfly effect amplifies the condition upon each iteration (repetition).”
In the earlier days of Af-x and its therapeutic predecessor, we were fond of saying that if we are able to change (for the better) emotional cause factors in our subconscious personalities, then any subsequent learnings (events and habits and issues that became established after the affect cause encoding) would “just collapse like the domino effect.” We now know that this is not always the case, and although successful work can be done with primary affect cause learnings, that doesn’t guarantee direct influence on later symptoms and problems.
But that’s not a bad thing. When change is brought about to initial learnings, this does affect later learnings. We understand now that that change cannot always be traceable and perceivable from what the chaos theorists call a linear perspective (from R.C. Hilborn’s Chaos and Nonlinear Dynamics).
This is a complicated issue and is best explained by example: - many client feedback reviews have stated (and I’m paraphrasing),
I don’t know that the exact problem I went for has changed a great deal, but many other things have changed for the better in my life. I just seem to be a whole lot calmer about everything – not reacting to external problems in the unproductive way I used to.
A domino effect in Af-x may be described as a traceable alteration to a specific symptom because of adjustment and modulation to a primary learned emotion. While we may say, “my so-and-so symptom has gone because we worked on the initial feeling cause,” we know that altering the initial cause required a line of “dominoes falling” along the way between then and now. This is what the theorists call a linear dynamic. In Af-x, many people experience this traceable, linear domino effect, and are able to be specific about “what the results have been.” But if “therapy” were expected to always exhibit this linear effect, we might miss the other huge benefits that may have been derived from good work.
In Chaos Theory, another explanation of the Butterfly Effect is:
_Outcomes and results in Af-x may take either form, or a combination of both. There are often changes to aspects of life that may not necessarily be attributed to any therapeutic approach, yet the therapy may have triggered the butterfly effect.
Af-x can produce very direct and observable changes to specific issues (Domino Effect) or broad encompassing changes that are gentler, subtler, definite, yet not linear (Butterfly Effect). And anything in between.
What’s the Af-x Attitude to “Mental Disorders?”
Af-x practitioners are trained and continually advised to take great care in accepting people for treatment who have been diagnosed (professionally and psychiatrically) with serious – and not-so-serious – “mental disorders.” The reason for this is that there exists a history and tradition in our society to not interfere with “doctor’s (psychiatrists) orders.” Af-x practitioners respect that tradition only when diagnoses and labelling are authentic and in the best interests of the client (the doctor’s “patient”). In many cases, the Af-x practitioner will not know (by default of the privacy non-narrative rule) of past diagnoses, and proceed with treatment. To take care, it is best if you have been previously diagnosed with conditions such as manic episodes, schizophrenia, et al, to advise your Af-x practitioner, who will discuss with you the issues surrounding proceeding with treatment, or otherwise.
That said, there is nothing about Af-x that is in any way unsafe. It can do no harm, the most negative outcome being “nothing.”
Nonetheless, the above comment here is a double-edged sword. In our current culture, apparently ravenous for the creation of “disorders,” research has shown that many “mental disorder” diagnoses have been made in the interest of expediency, last-resort labelling, medicated control, professional hubris and sheer ignorance. For instance, the “manic episodes” that are often interpreted as the excited phase of bipolar disorder, can easily be a side-effect of the antidepressants prescribed for depression, as the brain chemistry is “excited” by the medication itself. In some instances, a clear case of the creation of ill-health by medicine. In these cases Af-x has proven to be useful, if not wholly relieving.
Af-x is not recommended for serious psychoses and mental maladaptions, but can “do no harm,” and often is useful.
What’s the Af-x Attitude to Prescription medication?
While we accept that some medications are useful for the maintenance of life and general health, we abhor the generally accepted idea that psychotropic (mood-oriented & mind-altering) drugs are useful, necessary or even safe. As the World Health Organisation proclaims and predicts that depression will be – by 2020 – the greatest threat to the general health of the western world; the biggest killer – we have seen the growth of acceptance of SSRI antidepressants. These substances have dire consequences on the human brain, with a long and unacceptable history of suppression of the facts about side-effects by pharmaceutical companies. For more information about the potential harm of antidepressants, see Dr Peter Breggin’s book, The Antidepressant Fact Book, or Dr Grace E. Jackson’s Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs.
While many people have been helped through the Af-x program to discontinue (withdraw) from psychotropic medications, in general, we do not propose that Af-x is a substitute for a caring and respectful doctor who might help you reduce and stop taking SSRIs. Clients who are taking psycho-active medication are treated with reservation, as SSRIs have a deleterious effect on a person’s capacity for judgment and a capacity to absorb or concur with information that challenges the SSRI culture.
Again, there is nothing about Af-x that is in any way unsafe. It can do no harm, yet the incidence of success with clients who are taking psychotropics (particularly antidepressants) is a little lower than the average and often declines as prescribed dosages progressively increase.
Significant ingestion of psychotropic medication does not make for the perfect “mind landscape” with which to proceed with Af-x. That said, the Af-x program can do no harm, and is particularly useful for those wanting to discontinue drug use.
White's book Beat Depression the Drug Free Way explains in great detail the dangers of prescription SSRI antidepressants and other medications.
What’s the Af-x Attitude to “Recreational” Drugs?
Like all substances that have a detrimental effect on the human brain, any of the recreational drugs are no friends to the Af-x practitioner, the Af-x process, or frankly, to you. Over years, many of the so-called legal drugs have taken on the hue of being recreational in their social context – I cite the Ritalin sub-culture in our schools and the growth of knowledge (in our children) that Ritalin and its sister drugs are stimulants of the same family as speed (amphetamines).
So, Af-x Practitioners adopt the position that it would be preferable to help coach clients whose mental acuity processes are not disturbed or dulled by drugs, either medical or illicit. The taking of medication or drugs of any sort is, in the main (but not always) a matter of personal choice, and in this regard, Af-x practitioners respect that personal choice position.
Many Af-x practitioners will advocate a “down-period” – an amount of time where no drugs are consumed – prior to attending for sessions, and this must be discussed with your practitioner before Af-x work begins.
Significant ingestion of recreational drugs does not make for the perfect “mind landscape” with which to proceed with Af-x. That said, the Af-x program can do no harm, and is particularly useful for those wanting to discontinue drug use.
Is Af-x for a “Niche Market,” or is it for Everybody?
The theory of Af-x prescribes that everybody can “get something out of” an Af-x program that helps rebalance early learned affect responses. The proposition is “who of us can say that we have not learned something at some time in our lives that we would not like to alter now?” Yet, we live in an age that carries with it some attitudes that prevent some people from seeking help. More on this below. So, Af-x practitioners accept that, even though past clientele have included the broadest range of people and professions – police officers, nuclear scientists, psychiatrists, journalists, psychologists, nurses, executives, tradespeople, teenagers, artists, musicians, sportspeople, domestic engineers, accountants, ministers of religion, salespeople, doctors (and the list goes on and on) – not everyone can or wants to accept the premises that Af-x holds dear.
So, as a practical and realistic issue, Af-x is unashamedly now geared toward a niche market consisting of those who wish to reclaim personal responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, and abandon any “blame” model; also those who are prepared to accept the fact that emotion or affect plays a huge part in that health and wellbeing.
While affectologists and Af-x Practitioners base all research and practice on the fact that all conditions and symptoms have some underlying affect (emotional) concomitant, we recognise that there’s also a growing segment of the community who are becoming disenfranchised with the classical view that good therapy requires constant regurgitation of life’s history. While an Af-x practitioner will always explain this idea in full to every client, the classically ideal client for Af-x is one who has found little help with talking therapies, doesn’t believe that he or she “should” talk their life through to a stranger, or for whom the ideas surrounding the philosophy of Af-x make sense.
Af-x is best suited to those prepared to accept and take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing and to “get back on track” based on already inherent abilities and resources.
_Is there anybody NOT Suited to Af-x?
Our society has grown to place unrealistic expectations on “therapy:” expectations that by default result in some people expecting (fully) that it’s the “therapy” of whatever sort, that will do the job for them. This is common in our culture, and has led to great dissatisfaction in therapeutic outcomes. Most “therapies” seem to act like people themselves adopting superior and almost egoistic attitudes to their abilities.
As a matter of realism, all change, therapeutic or otherwise, requires choice, knowledge and a willingness to take responsibility for one’s own experience.
Af-x practitioners will not apologize for advocating that willingness of the above is a key element in all healing not of a biological nature.
While Af-x has proven successful for people with all manner of attitudes and expectations, we caution that the following aspects of human nature can be a deterrent to good process.
Those NOT prepared to accept and take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, and those expecting an external element to “heal” them.
Are there any “Cautions?”
Are there any Other Limitations of Af-x?
Like any other approach to change – any other therapy or treatment – Af-x is not a universal panacea. While the results of Af-x (as shown by the feedback system) are satisfying in the extreme, there are always some life issues and problems that are not suitable to be dealt with by Af-x.
How do you Monitor the Success of Af-x?
Because we encourage you to trust your subconscious mind and accept that these sessions are the start of the process, then we really do need to know about the success rate of our work in the long term.
Over the last decade, every Af-x client has been asked to participate in a unique feedback system. This questionnaire system operates in an independent and anonymous fashion, with your Af-x practitioner not being privy to any specific result or any comments you might make. Researchers simply hand on the raw “success percentage data” to the practitioner. This ensures an optimum enticement for authenticity of reporting. The information gained from these questionnaires serves the following purposes.
Can I Continue to do Other therapies after Af-x?
Af-x practitioners advocate that it’s best to allow the unconscious to proceed at its own pace, and in its own manner, with the “subconscious reminder” messages received as a result of the Af-x program. You must understand that the “thinking, trying, active, willful, conscious mind” does not operate in tandem with the subconscious affect processes of the mind. And the subconscious mind does not operate under the thrall and command of the conscious willful self. If this were the case, all therapy would be an easy process; even a redundant concept.
Almost all other psychotherapies require some level of conscious processing as a matter of course on some sort of an “aware continuum.”
This is the exact opposite to what Af-x practitioners and coaches encourage. It defies the “let it happen; don’t think about it” dictum that is so important in respecting the processes of the subconscious mind.
That said, in theory, the consequences of doing subsequent “other” psychotherapies can, and probably will, slow the unconscious affect modulation process down, but the message remains.
As a matter of care, though, in practice, doing other psychotherapies operates directly against the principles of Af-x.
Af-x practitioners maintain that if a person is “set” on following Af-x along with existing psychotherapeutic programs, it’s best to see those (other approaches) out to their conclusion. If they are successful, that’s good. If not, you can come to Af-x with a clean slate, prepared to give it the time it deserves in order to be successful.
Af-x practitioners are often heard to say, at the end of the program, “it’s a strange thing to say for an approach that relies on word-of-mouth referral, but the best thing you can do now is go about your life and forget you’ve been here.” And that represents our desire for a “lack of conscious processing after treatment.”… and our encouragement to you to trust your subconscious more than our society allows for.
Can you tell me what the percentage of “non-success” is?
We can, but with respect, we won’t. This must be explained in the following way.
Every person – all of us – has unconscious parts and mechanisms that will search for ways to avoid change. It’s inevitable in our unconscious makeup. So, if we were to claim that this approach has a 100% success rate, you would, quite rightly, disbelieve that claim. On the other hand, if we said that Af-x has a 98% success rate (which it does not), the rules of subconscious avoidance would insist that you will unconsciously have a tendency to place yourself in that 2% failure segment in order to avoid change. So this is a case of revelation not being the best policy when it comes to caring about your predictors for success. It’s the one time in our work where there’s a “no win” dynamic.
But, suffice it to say that the proven and researched results show that Af-x has a higher rate of success than other approaches. Within the “in-house” professional realm of psychotherapy, it’s generally accepted that of all the people who come for therapy, a third get better, a third get worse, and a third stay the same.
In Af-x we can say without equivocation that the third that “get worse” in other approaches are absent in our work, and the third that get better is at least doubled (variable).
“Table of Commitment” for Af-x work
Given much of the above information, we can arrive at a division of responsibility and commitment for both parties; - Af-x practitioner and client. In other words, this could describe the “intentionality” of both parties, but goes further than intention, into the realm of commitment.
It’s a given that no type of therapy that involves the mind on any level (including many physical therapies) will “work” unless there is an intention to commit to an attitude that allows for that therapy to reach its full potential.
If there is an attitude of receptiveness, the chances are good. If there’s an attitude of “I must learn from this and take my own steps forward,” the chances are excellent. But if there’s an attitude that attributes all power for change to the therapist or the therapy itself, then the chances are at best, questionable, at worst, bad. If there’s an attitude of scepticism and doubt, then the chances are probably nil. And this applies to ALL therapies and approaches.
So, where does that leave the average Af-x practitioner and client?
The Af-x practitioner is committed to:
The client must be committed to:
What is the Af-x attitude to all other “therapies?”
This attitude is very clear. Much of what Af-x says, supported by the science, seems to denigrate other therapies and approaches, particularly those that employ cognitive processes, narrative exchange, and are symptom-oriented. The operative word here is “seems.” Af-x makes certain statements by default. This means that we do not claim certainty and righteousness in anything as complex and abstract as the human mind (in all its intricacies), but make claim to a very satisfying success rate based on the reports of our past clients.
As a matter of principle, Af-x practitioners applaud other approaches when they work, or when they produce the desired outcomes. This means that we would comfortably say “if that’s right for you, let’s not stand in your way.” But the territory of Af-x is specific, and we say that when another approach does not seem to service the needs of the affect unconscious, then there must be something missing in the table of attendance. And we are certain that what’s missing is an understanding and attendance to the silent, affect self. So, if nothing else “works for you” or you have already accepted the notion of I feel; therefore I am, Af-x may prove to be exactly what you are looking for.
What is the Af-x attitude to doctors?
Since time immemorial, doctors have enjoyed a special place in our society. Not so long ago, particularly in the 1950s and 60s, the word of the family physician was revered, even to the point of creating the saying “doctor’s orders,” as though the general practitioner had absolute power and control over your destiny and health.
The Af-x attitude is somewhat different to that of the vast majority of people in our culture who still assume the divinity of doctors. Our attitude is that doctors, too, are human, with all that that humanity entails. There is much evidence and successful legal cases to prove doctors can and have made mistakes in diagnosis or treatment, and that doctors are open to the same sort of influence (by pharmaceutical companies, and the like) that mortals would be. So, the Af-x attitude relating to doctors is that they are human. Yet, we most decidedly respect the influence that doctors wield in our society, if not some of the modern medical notions.
From an operant standpoint, you will find that Af-x practitioners do not go against the “orders” of your physician, and that’s often proven to be a redundant idea anyway, because most people reporting for Af-x treatment have already realised (and made decisions based on that realisation) that contemporary Western medicine intends to treat symptoms, rather than emotional cause.
That said, there are always exceptions, and many people have been referred to Af-x by and from perspicacious doctors and psychiatrists.
What is the Af-x attitude to psychologists?
Clearly, the Af-x approach is a direct opposite to any approach that involves narrative reporting and/or cognitive restructuring. We make the point that the conscious and the subconscious can never operate in concert, and that it’s (usually) impossible for the conscious (cognitive) processes to make significant change to the subconscious. We also proclaim that restoration of traumatic episodic experience (memory) can prove to be extremely dangerous. Not all psychotherapies employ this “past reviviscence” mode, but many do.
The Af-x process rejects all the above by virtue of its stated “territory”. That said, some Af-x practitioners are “past and lapsed” psychologists, and in some cases, psychologists have referred clients for Af-x work.
In short, the Af-x attitude to psychologists parallels that of the Af-x attitude to “other therapies” (above), and we say that if “talking it out and through” seems to do the job for you … “good.” We are here to help in different territory.
Are there any other therapies available that parallel the concepts of affectology or Af-x?
Not many. Remember that the territory of Af-x is somewhat foreign to the way that our modern society has developed (or devolved) toward being almost entirely conscious, rational and wilful (egocentric). Af-x subscribes to the opposite and honours, above all else, the non-narrative, subconscious and permissive self – the unconscious mechanisms that drive automatic repetitive feelings, emotions and “survival tasks.” Yet, some other approaches come close.
A very few somatic (body-work) therapies follow almost identical conceptual imperatives in that “unconscious initiating stressors” are developed at a pre-verbal age and are carried through into adulthood (examples are Network Chiropractic and some streams of kinesiology). But while Af-x territory is inherently “the mind,” somatic therapies are concerned with how those initiating emotional stressors eventually affect the body. Similar concept, different territory. In fact, Af-x practitioners have successfully worked with NSA and kinesiology clients who have been shown to be “stuck” in their processing through the emotion-oriented phase of treatment. The major difference here is that Af-x requires a short time, while prolonged somatic approaches may require months or years of therapy.
Some; repeat “some” forms of kinesiology approach the business of whole rebalancing without discussion about presenting symptoms.
This said, we are aware that there is no other approach that rejects the notion of accessing initiating imbalance through symptom awareness quite like Af-x does. We are interested in helping only with what drives all our subconscious processes, whether they be mental, emotional or psychosomatic – the “affect sense of self.”
Does Af-x Utilize/involve Hypnosis?
I’ve often been asked “does this approach include hypnosis?” in fact, asked so often that it prompts me to write this piece – probably for inclusion in upcoming books. It’s said that “there are no stupid questions; only stupid answers.” So, let me assure you that my answer here does not imply ignorance, merely a level of “uninformed-ness.”
Recently, I was asked that question over the phone, and when I could not answer unless the caller told me what hypnosis “meant”, the caller argued that it was a simple question, able to be answered simply.
Not so. Or at least, not honestly.
So, the stupid answer would be either one of the blatant simplistic answers, “yes” or “no.” In truth the answer does depend entirely on what one means by the word “hypnosis.”
In NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) practitioners always answer “no” to this question, even though that work (NLP) is almost entirely built on the work of Milton Erickson, American psychiatrist and hypnotherapist extraordinaire. His approach to hypnosis was analysed and reformatted by Bandler and Grinder and emerged as NLP (sans hypnosis).
In strict technical terms, all communication – particularly communication that takes on the aroma of being influential – involves some level of what is called naturalistic trance phenomena or naturalistic hypnotic phenomena. This particularly applies to such communicative styles that we can experience during guided meditation, group prayer, guided relaxation, listening to lectures, and the list goes on. If this may seem a far cry from your own perceptions, you may be interested in the work of several researchers and experts. These references appear at the end of this, but you must be advised that Edgette is keen to recognise “hypnosis” as a discrete therapeutic “state.” I do not.
I could write several chapters on how we human beings utilise hypnotic or trance states all the time, and that that utilisation is no more “out there” than whenever we attend for any therapy at all, even cognitive talk therapy – and I have written much on this very subject as part of the intense training program (both theoretical and practical) of Af-x Practitioners. Yet I don’t believe it’s useful to do that here, because most questioners want to be convinced that we Af-x Practitioners do not use hypnosis, so I should focus on what our society has made of the word.
For many decades, the public idea of what hypnosis and hypnotherapy mean, has been fluid and subject to a vast amount of misinformation – what Julian Jaynes has called the “collective cognitive imperative” (what society believes and informs, right or wrong) that has been the result of incorrect (and quite frankly, “silly”) professional views put forward by and followed by doctors, psychologists, clinical hypnotherapists and stage hypnotists alike.
Below is an excerpt of a lesson in a unit of the Af-x practitioner training manual that lists the imperatives and “rules” that characterise the traditional (mainstream) view of hypnotherapy, and in particular, medical hypnosis. This whole unit of study is intended to show students the “silliness” of traditionally-practiced clinical hypnotherapy, and that any communication process within the therapeutic context must be more naturalistic, permissive and involving merely slight shifts in awareness; not unlike daydreaming or listening to something either interesting or uninteresting on the radio (for example). As you read this table, please bear in mind that it’s presented as a clear expression of what Af-x is not! – and what the “self-attention” concept contained within Af-x steers away from ………………….
Definitions, concepts, views of hypnosis as a state of psychological operation probably number in the thousands. If you have read Jaynes’ material on hypnosis from a bicameral development perspective, you may be able to accept that there has been a plethora of opinions through time. And those opinions vary along with the “collective cognitive imperative” of the culture of the time.
It is not necessary to trace, tabulate or describe those here, but it may be useful to you for us to provide a broad overview of conceptual constructs of hypnosis that you may (or may not) hear from other professionals, as some of these archaic and generally unproductive constructs still unfortunately abound in our professional society.
Generally speaking, the traditional* and orthodox construct of hypnosis will contain many or all of the following as aspects of operation and ideation:
My apologies to those systems of hypnotherapy that do not employ the above, most specifically traditional Ericksonian hypnosis, but sadly, many more hypnosis models do employ the above than is healthy for our society. Furthermore, the public’s perception of hypnosis as employing the authoritarian approach is not aided by stage hypnotism.
* Traditional – the memetic social collective view harboured by the majority of the public without due regard to the complexity of technical data related to naturalistic trance phenomena and the “presence” of “perennial hypnotic phase modes” that are present in almost all our everyday experience.
Listed above are the very aspects of the mainstream hypnotherapy paradigm that I (and all trained Af-x Practitioners) deride and eschew, in the service of respect to the client. In Af-x, we understand that language can be influential, particularly when it’s offered in an environment (of mind) that allows for selectivity of experience. So, Af-x is concerned with the quality of the therapeutic content of the verbal exchange, rather than the quality (or otherwise) of the “state of ‘hypnotic depth’ (whatever that is supposed to be)” of the client.
So, the answer to the question; “does this approach include hypnosis?” must be a reserved “yes” if the inquirer is informed enough to understand that “naturalistic trance phenomena” is present in all communication, but a resounding “no” if the inquirer is asking the question based on harbouring the common socio-professional view of what hypnosis “is” and what mainstream hypnotherapy attempts to “do.”
To round this rather convoluted presentation off, I’d like to say that in strict technical terms, forty years ago, when I was teaching meditation, I was, like all meditation teachers, using naturalistic hypnotic phenomena. But then, so are doctors, psychologists, church ministers, and anyone who utilises communication to influence.
Aren’t Af-x practitioners simply abnegating responsibility for the overall outcomes of their work?
Answering this question is perhaps the biggest challenge of all for Af-x practitioners. We are aware that the aim in our work is to help restore a person to a stronger emotional capacity to re-take responsibility for their own emotional, mental and physical health and wellbeing. While this may be the aim of Af-x, it nonetheless bears a minor stigma regarding our societal view of what “therapy” should “do.” This cannot be helped. Af-x practitioners are dedicated to solidly re-integrate an absolute responsibility within each of their clients, and this cannot be achieved “partially.”
So - Af-x subscribes to the idea that Af-x practitioners adopt an above-average responsibility for doing all that is possible for you to re-learn the art of taking personal responsibility for your emotional and mental experience, through the Af-x re-educative program.
Yet, teachers can only open doors; you have to do the walking through it.
So: are Af-x practitioners absolving themselves from responsibility for results? Yes. That cannot be avoided, no matter what the therapy or approach.
But, are Af-x practitioners absolving themselves from responsibility for delivering the best they can, a proven program for offering people the help they need to take responsibility for themselves? ... No.
Are there any Important Rules if I want to do Af-x?
Everybody thinks they know that they want to get better. Whilst there is no denying that people would not attend ANY therapy or change program if on some level they did not want to achieve a successful outcome, Af-x practitioners are trained to respect the client’s non-conscious desires as well as obvious, conscious needs.
You should not proceed unless certain imperatives are understood, and you are comfortable with them. So the following checklist is included to give you an idea of those imperatives, and perhaps gauge your suitability for this work and your desire to proceed. They’re not necessarily “rules” but are helpful for you to know if you are going to be “in the right place.”
Am I comfortable not talking about my woes?
Conscious-level discussion about you and your problems will be kept to a bare minimum. This respects your ability to know about, and deal with, presenting issues at non-conscious level. It also obeys the important (and sometimes difficult) paradigm that respect for the unconscious (the aim of Af-x) and respect for the conscious (the aim of counseling) are mutually exclusive.
Will I be able to let go of the need to try to make things happen?
You must be prepared to acknowledge that not everything in life is under your conscious control. In fact, unconscious processes can never be under conscious willful control. Your practitioner is skilled at guiding and helping you to achieve a permissive “let it happen” level of operation, but in the final analysis, the choice to allow for that will be yours. This is the appropriate way to allow for long-term subconscious change.
Will I be able to accept that I may not experience dramatic change within the three segments?
Everyone experiences the process differently, but for the majority of people, changes will not become noticeable for days or weeks after the end of the program. Research has shown that for some people, there is a longer process of change over many months.
Is this the right time for me to do Af-x?
Af-x is designed to help you change long-term patterns and problems. If you are in the middle of a crisis situation or significant life change (retrenchment, divorce, death of a loved one for example) it may be better to seek some other form of support for that time and to attend the Af-x program when things have settled down. Don’t be afraid to talk to your Af-x practitioner about this. We are more interested in your eventual positive outcome than immediate “business.”
Am I fully ready for, and committed to, change?
This may sound like an odd question to pose, if you are already at the stage where you are reading this booklet, however it is amazing how many people “go through the motions” of counseling, therapy, personal change techniques and the like, but without deriving any actual benefit. This, then, suggests that there is some part of them that does not really want to change.
With any symptom, condition, habit or pattern, there is usually some sort of secondary (other) benefit or gain involved. It may be that your ‘condition’ provides you with a good excuse to not do particular things (avoidance part); perhaps your condition has been around so long it has become part of your identity (victim part), perhaps there is a part of you that is afraid of the responsibility that comes with success and wants to prevent you from achieving this (sabotage part) or any number of other possible reasons. This is sometimes a challenge to people who “think they know their own mind about these things,” but remember that, in Af-x work, we are talking about true unconscious processes and drives, as distinct from conscious thinking.
There is no “tasking” or homework in Af-x. People are discouraged from following the usual idea (in “therapy”) of processing material after or between visits, but it can nevertheless be useful and not counterproductive to spend some time imagining what life would really be like if you “got better” – arrived at a state of simply liking yourself and feeling comfortable in your own company and how you would face up to the things you might have been avoiding. It’s impossible to “make sure” that all parts of you are ready to move forward and change (because of their non-conscious nature), but it’s useful for you to acknowledge their existence and the possibility of occasional “stuckness” of those parts. That is the stuff of “change through acknowledgement.”
Why have I not heard much about Af-x?
So, why is it so difficult to raise awareness about a self-help program that is proven highly successful in changing people’s lives for the better?
The problem is one of social understanding and mythology. We use the word “myth” because we have grown to perceive certain things about our health and the revival of health (mental, emotional and physical) that work in opposition to what we mostly seek – happiness and wellness.
This booklet has explained that Af-x defies the premises of most models of therapy in our culture, and is strong on the idea that words such as therapy, counselling, even “help,” usually lead the listener’s cognitive understandings of the word directly away from what Af-x “is.”
Af-x practitioners have a tough time explaining what it is they do, and what Af-x is, because of that oppositional stance. Even though Af-x is highly successful, with many clients reporting significant, even “incredible,” change in their lives, those clients are most often at a loss for words as to exactly what “their treatment was” and “how it worked.” The fact is that “it” didn’t work:- they did. It’s difficult to explain because it’s such a foreign concept to our cultural ideas of therapy. Hence this booklet.
So, Af-x is extremely difficult to categorise; it doesn’t seem to “fit” the parameters of our society’s view of just what good therapy “should” be about. But it works!
Human beings are most comfortable whenever they can slip a word or term into an already established “category of their own understanding.” It gives us all a sense of “being knowledgeable” – a sense of understanding (even if we don’t).
Fundamentally, the media follows suit. If something can’t be categorised, and within the confines of its own knowledge, then it doesn’t exist. The same goes for other professionals, and as has been stated, even those people for whom exposure to the Af-x program has brought about outstanding success.
And herein lays the dilemma. Although Af-x helps an inordinate number of people get “back on track”, their encouragement as part of the Af-x mode is to “forget you’ve done it and trust yourself.” And even if that’s not followed, they don’t know exactly what to say about this work – how to categorise it for any listener.
W. Somerset Maugham, the English author, said “The truth is a poor storyteller.” That means that it’s often the sensational claims of fiction and misinformation that make the best stories, but that the truth may be of less dramatic impact. In Af-x, we are more interested in the “gentle truth” than the immediate dramatic impact, preferring life to unfold in improved ways. Quietly. Subtly.
So, that might explain why you have not heard much about Af-x. It’s a non-verbal approach to the business of getting better, and difficult to verbalise.
Another reason that Af-x is not widely known, is because of the small number of registered Af-x Practitioners.
Because it lies outside the ‘common view’ of therapy, Af-x is extremely difficult to categorise and even more difficult to explain simply.
Why are there so few Af-x practitioners?
In many forms of therapy, training ceases at the time of finishing the training program. Very often, trainee practitioners themselves consider that this is the right course of action, and that they should be left alone to ply their trade in a way that they see fit, perhaps injecting so many of their own views and beliefs into their work, that the finished product (therapy) ultimately bears little resemblance to that which was taught, and leads to inconsistency of service delivery. Historically, this field was no different. Ian White and the School of Affectology have taught and trained many practitioners both here and overseas, and most have gone their own way, not prepared to undergo the sort of monitoring, continued training and development that the very stringent rules of registration surrounding Af-x require. Some ‘tightening’ was therefore required, in order to protect the registered name, and to maintain high quality standards for client benefit.
Because of these high standards, Af-x has a higher practitioner attrition rate than many other approaches. We are determined that those who meet the standards of Af-x registration and licensing have worked hard and commit themselves to meet and maintain the “best practices” concept that Af-x holds dear. The “self-selection through standards” path that registered practitioners choose to take ensures that anyone using the registered mark of Af-x does so after meeting those standards and maintaining themselves as transparent as to their delivery of the subtleties of approach that are so vital in the pursuit of success of the Af-x methodology.
Any registered Af-x practitioner has been fully trained and maintains a willingness to submit to the rigours of professional development and finetuning that White, the School, and I.A.A. insist upon.
Many have been taught: only a few have been the cream that rises to the top.
All practitioners legally permitted to display and use the Af-x® mark have completed the Diploma course conducted by the School of Affectology and fulfilled the requirements for registration by Ian White and licensing by IAA. (International Affectology Association).
Training in Affectology does not carry with it a guarantee of promotion to Af-x practitioner level. As Af-x ® is a registered mark, the imperative is that it can only be legally used by registered and licensed practitioners who undergo rigorous monitoring and constant professional development. Those permitted to use Af-x as a professional descriptor have shown proven ability to adhere to its strictures and imperatives, and who have displayed an exemplary success rate with their clients (as evidenced by mandatory client review).
In Australia – the home of Af-x – there are several practitioners who have fulfilled these stringent training requirements, and continue to be monitored and develop through advanced training. Not all students have done so. As the Af-x label is registered and legally protected, you should enquire with Ian White for confirmation of the authenticity of any practitioner qualifications or claims.
Recognised and licensed Af-x Practitioners are to be found in most states of Australia and in Europe.
As a matter of discipline, registered Af-x® practitioners are front-rank, numbering few in Australia and overseas
Any practitioner operating under the Af-x banner is registered and licensed to do so. One of the standards set down by IAA is that an Af-x program of treatment of three segments (usually 4-5 hours) is charged at $400 for the full program. This fee varies in some other parts of the world, and from practitioner to practitioner within Australia, depending on demographic. You should ask your practitioner if this varies in your region.
What are the Regulatory issues regarding Af-x?
We first must accept that Af-x is what may be called a “heretical” (i.e. contrary to accepted belief) approach to therapy. Before dealing with regulation, recognition by established government bodies, and the like, it’s important to be very clear about the social territory under which Af-x operates.
Af-x proclaims that (in general), psychotherapy has headed down erroneous and damaging pathways for the last hundred or so years. These are the same pathways that have established themselves as “the right” ways to treat people. In a metaphoric way, not only does Af-x claim they are not productive pathways, but that those pathways have been solidified and paved by the regulatory bodies that have been formed to qualify and justify them (by “them” I mean narrative and cognitive approaches as well as biological – psychopharmacological – approaches).
Yet, in Af-x, we have a system of emotional and affect “restoration” that implies, by default, that many – or most – systems of approach are either “wrong,” or do not address the important “missing affect link.”
The question is, then; “how does, or could, Af-x fit comfortably within that frame of reference that’s developed (regulatory bodies) to qualify and protect that which it so obviously rails against?”
It’s important here, then, to mention a little history.
Over a decade, there have been submissions and inquiries for Af-x to be recognized by the types of organisations that “manage regulation.” These have been organisations that have included mainstream classical modalities as well as alternative (traditional medicine) modalities. In every case (despite the supporting science), Af-x has been deemed to be “revolutionary to the ideals and approaches” of those organisations. In the case of Health Insurance corporations, the rejection has been two-fold, even though the positive results of Af-x exceed other modalities. In the first instance, health insurance bodies require that a modality be recognized by a government-approved regulatory body. This is not possible (see above). In the second instance, the view of health insurers is, “it’s not a well-known modality.” This becomes, then, a “chicken and egg” situation that has driven the Af-x thinking to make the following statement:-
“……..We are adamant that our greatest regulator is our past and present client base. The International Affectology Association, (I.A.A.), incorporated in Canberra, Australia, oversees client feedback studies, monitors practitioner performance and is the arbiter of practitioner licensing. All Af-x practitioners must go through two stringent assessments; one to become “registered” by the School of Affectology and the owner of the trademark Af-x® (Ian White), and one to become licensed by I.A.A. subsequent to that registration. A success rate that is satisfactory and constant is needed for them to be able to retain that set of qualifications…….”
Af-x, then, is not government recognized or regulated, but depends on the continued success stories of its clients for social sustenance. The Af-x approach is also refreshing, insofar as the focus from client feedback is entirely on client welfare, as distinct from supporting a practitioner who continually achieves less than satisfactory results. Should such a trend exist purporting to inadequate results from any practitioner, then action is taken to help the practitioner improve and continue to monitor results, rather than simply having the Association totally support the practitioner, at the expense of the client.
(More) Frequently Asked Questions
“What are the ideal time intervals between segments of Af-x?”
In theory, and indeed often in practice, any interval is OK, but an “ideal” would be anything between a day interval and a week. It is most common for Af-x practitioners to successfully and comfortably complete the 3 segment program in two consecutive days.
“How long do the session segments last?”
Your first visit may take up to 2 hours (or sometimes, more) with subsequent segments taking around 50 minutes each.
“Is this hypnotherapy?”
Af-x eschews the notion that “hypnosis” or any other formal trance state is a prerequisite for good communication – in any context. Clinical hypnotherapy most often relies on a therapist’s assessment of a client’s symptoms and subsequent “re-programming” of the sub-conscious in a very specific and directive way (e.g. “…you will no longer have the desire to smoke…”). As you have previously read, Af-x goes much deeper than the surface symptoms and gives no “orders” as such. Your practitioner will guide your mind through a process it can use to change long term patterns from within – whatever problems or symptoms may be present at the time. Af-x utilises simple self-attention procedures that approximate guided meditation, but are even simpler and less “active.” (also see, “Does Af-x employ hypnosis” in main text above).
“Can I stop my medication?”
Your Af-x practitioner will not advise on medication and will always encourage you to have a discussion with your doctor if you are uncertain about your need for any medication or other health treatment you may be undertaking. In some cases an Af-x practitioner might advise you to find another doctor (who has no vested interest in disallowing you to discontinue any drugs that they have prescribed for you), who exhibits greater respect and sympathy for your need to stop or reduce medication (if that’s your desire).
A recommended book for help in discontinuation is Dr Peter Breggin’s “Your Drug May Be Your Problem.”
Notwithstanding all the above, in principle, the Af-x paradigm abhors the use of psychoactive substances to manage and confine mental, emotional mood states. (also see, “Attitudes to Prescription Medication” in main text above).
“What do I have to do after the Af-x program?”
“The cook now has the directions.” (a Zen therapy saying).
So; nothing. You will be encouraged to “let it happen” and discouraged from trying to analyse. You will be asked to trust your subconscious in its own private task of affect adjustment and rehabilitation. Practitioners will advise you correctly at the end of the program. (also see, “Is there any backup support” in main text above).
“How do I measure change?”
The results of the Af-x program are unique to each person, and while for some people the results may be fast and dramatic, for the majority of people the process of change is gentle and gradual. In fact, sometimes a person’s sense of what is “normal” changes so gradually and subtly that they don’t even notice the change is happening on a daily basis. This can be, and usually is, a good thing, as subtle changes seem to avoid the ravages of our sabotage mechanisms, and become long-lasting. You will be encouraged to simply respond to your feedback questionnaire in a general way. (also see, “Outcomes & Results” in main text above).
“Is Af-x good for my ………?”
If there is anything in your life about which you are uncomfortable, or you realise you are being prevented from reaching your full potential in any way; this can almost always be attributed to underlying emotional response patterns.
Many people have been surprised at the changes experienced to areas of their life other than what they originally sought help for. Sports people and other performers have “freed-up;” executives have been able to make better stress-free decisions, and even those with true physically-generated symptoms and problems have found greater acceptance and emotional peace.
In short, the above question has no definitive answer other than, “who of us has not learned habitual responses in our lives that could do with re-learning?”
“What about physical treatments/therapies for emotion?”
There are many therapies – shiatsu, massage, kinesiology, to name a few – that are often much more effective in bringing about some release from emotional stress held at somatic level, than are the majority of talking therapies. On the whole, Af-x supports and endorses these, provided you do not get confused about “the territory of change.”
Many of the “releases” associated with somatic therapies are symptomatic and aimed at immediate relief, while Af-x is “causal” in intention and aimed at deep and enduring change in a much broader context of human experience.
_It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society