University Mental Health Director Uses The Work In Practice?
Date: October 10, 2010 08:12AM
Thank you for having already shared this paper via the culteducation.com forum. I came across it about two weeks ago and have been formulating a response for publication, although I haven't determined the appropriate venue(s) yet.
Anil Coumar is a BKI certified facilitator of The Work and also the Director of the Student Mental Health Center at the University of Washington (UW). Neither his paper (attached to this reply) nor his biography on the UW Seattle website mention this association, which to a lay-folk like myself looks like a potential conflict of interest.
As mentioned, this paper is not a scholarly analysis of the effectiveness of The Work, but it does demonstrate that both Coumar and Hildago (not listed on The Work's facilitator website, so should he even be doing The Work with clients, according to the BKI system?) are willing to implement this untested form of conflict/stress resolution through self-inquiry on vulnerable college students, probably at the State's expense.
Two quotes stand out to me as red flags regarding the validity of the argument that Coumar and Hildalgo supply as ~evidence~ of The Work's effectiveness:
1. "I was delightfully mystified by the total absence of a sense of shame about having been so inconsiderate of Eli for the previous 17 years." (Hidalgo)
So Hidalgo, a licensed mental health provider, has been treating his step-son (a dependent/vulnerable individual who likely had attachment challenges coming into his relationship with Hidalgo) poorly for 17 years, but doing The Work once relieved him (Hidalgo) of his sense of shame over the matter. It sounds like Hidalgo's reduced shame was evidence that The Work was effective for him, and feeling shame less often would certainly motivate him to use The Work more often. Hopefully it would also motivate him to treat his step-son better, and with his background in mental health I'm surprised that it took a Byron Katie moment for this to become clear to him. I don't trust a licensed mental health provider who mistreats his vulnerable child to give me anecdotal evidence of how effective his unscientific implementation of The Work is.
2. "When “The Work” doesn’t work
In our experience “The Work” always relieves or eliminates painful affects, and it
works for any problem, simply because all suffering is created by our thoughts.
However, there are times when a person doesn’t want to “do ‘The Work’”. There
seem to be two primary and opposing motives in Mind – to be right and to know
what is true. “The Work” is most effective when we do it for the love of truth. When
we are more invested in being right than in knowing what is true, the four questions
can feel aversive."
First of all, for those uninitiated with Byron Katie, BKI, and The Work, these aren't even Coumar & Hildago's thoughts, they are lengthy nearly direct quotes from BKI published works, presumably authored by Byron Katie and/or Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchel.
Secondly, if The Work "always relieves or eliminates painful affects" there would be a huge amount of scientific study aimed at incorporating it as a recognized treatment by the American Psychology Association. There are no publicly documented efforts to scientifically study the effects of The Work using the standard APA peer-reviewed methodology.
Lastly, and most telling, if, according to Coumar and Hildago, you are still invested in being right rather than loving the truth (not a recognized outcome of any kind of psychotherapy that I am familiar with), it is your fault if The Work seems aversive to you.
[This PDF was authored by Lisa Biskup who is ringing a bell as a BKI staffer, but I haven't the time to research that at this moment.]
On a slightly different topic, this paper demonstrates what I have seen in several places regarding The Work and psychotherapy. Some licensed mental-health care providers who do discuss using The Work don't use it according to the BKI protocols. They skip or reframe questions that are negating (Who would you be without that story?), they are unfamiliar with the turn-around concepts, and they don't use the ~sub-questions~ that you often hear Byron Katie engaging during video-taped sessions, such as, "If X were your only path to God, would you take it?".
**Anil Coumar, MBBS, MA, LMHC: Director
Anil Coumar received his medical degree from Madras University, India in 1983 and completed a year of residency in psychiatry before moving to London, England. He completed a three-year training in Transactional Analysis in London, England. He also received a master's degree in psychology from Antioch University, Seattle. He is a Clinical Instructor in University of Washington's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and also teaches advanced skill lab seminars at UW School of Social Work.
His work as a psychotherapist is influenced by his training as a physician and psychotherapist and also his interest and experience in Mindfulness meditation, and Inquiry Based Stress Reduction. (Licensed mental health counselor; license #LH00004449)
Recent Publications and articles:
* Mindfulness Meditation in the Prevention and Treatment of Addictive Behaviors. G. Alan Marlatt, Sarah Bowen, George A. Parks, Anil Coumar - in "Buddhist Thought and Applied Psychological Research. Transcending the Boundaries" Eds D.K. Nauriyal, Michael S. Drummond, Y.B. Lal, Routledge (1st Ed) 2006.
* Anger management: Learn about some health ways to deal with anger and when to seek help.
* Anxiety disorders: Many people with anxiety disorder do not recognize it. Learn how to identify the symptoms and about available treatments.
* The Work of Byron Katie: A New Psychotherapy? by Anil Coumar, MBBS, MA & Ricardo Hidalgo, LMHC