Friday 26th April 2013
The phone rang in the therapist’s office. The mother on the other end outlined the problem – Nigel, her son, now aged 44 had been in care for nearly 8 years in a state of catatonic schizophrenia. Various drugs and electroconvulsive therapy had been tried with only moderate and always temporary success. Neurological assessments revealed nothing of significance. Nigel spent his days in a seemingly twilight world where there was minimal, if any, apparent interest in his surroundings. In short, Nigel appeared fully conscious yet totally unresponsive.
“I think they have given up on him,” his mother told the therapist, and knowing his reputation asked, “is there anything you can do?”
“Oh yes!” Replied the Therapist.
The trickiest part was getting the psychiatric care home to allow the therapist in. There are all sorts of rules about these things and territorial considerations, but with persistence and some wiley charms, the therapist was able to get the relevant forms signed.
With minimal observation, Nigel’s care routine became obvious. In the morning, the care staff would wash him, drain off the catheter bag, dress him, place him into his chair, feed him and then park him in front of the window or television for the morning. Periodically, they’d lift him and move him to prevent pressure sores. On Wednesdays, the weekly enema was given to prevent constipation. At lunchtime, the catheter bag was emptied and Nigel was fed and watered and after lunch was parked either in front of the television, or back in front of the window. The evening routine was similar and then he was put to bed.
This was pretty much Nigel’s life had been for the past 8 years. Now the care was mostly professional and was indeed very caring. He’d never developed a pressure sore, suffered unreasonable constipation or any other unreasonable physical health problem. Often, the staff would talk to him and read to him, but rarely was there even so much as a flicker of interest from Nigel.
“I think he is lost to us,” one member of staff voiced to the Therapist, “what are you going to do?” she asked. “I’ll show you tomorrow,” the Therapist replied, “I’ll show you tomorrow.”
The following morning the Therapist was in early, before the more dependent residents had been gotten out of bed. He brought freshly made doughnuts from the 24 hour supermarket and made all the staff tea and coffee and waited to be called. “Just let me know when you have Nigel out of bed,” he told them.
Forty minutes later, Nigel was out of bed and the Therapist waited patiently as the staff spoon fed Nigel who ate disinterestedly. When he had finished eating, the Therapist indicated to the nurses, “He’s mine, give him to me!” He demanded and as he took over control of the wheelchair leaned down and whispered into Nigel’s ear, “Just play along with me, I’m getting paid a fortune for this,” and wheeled him up along the corridor.
Reaching the small cleaners cupboard, the Therapist took out all the mops, brooms, dust pans – took out everything – and found to his delight that the cupboard was just about big enough to fit one man and a wheelchair into it. “Shhh! Just play along with me!” he said quietly as he shut the door, locking it after he did so.
It was at this juncture that the staff went nuts! What did this therapist think he was doing? Did he not know how unprofessional this was? What if something happened to him in there?
“Look!” the Therapist explained. “That man is catatonic, he hasn’t moved in nearly 8 years and he is locked safely in a small empty cupboard. What on earth is going to happen to him? And besides, he’s safer in there than out here – haven’t you noticed, this place is full of crazy people?!”
The staff were clearly uncomfortable with the whole situation and put up quite a protest. All this was occurring outside the cupboard where Nigel resided. This was part of the Therapist’s plan. Nigel might be unresponsive, but there certainly was nothing wrong with his ears.
“He stays in the cupboard!” The therapist ordered, showing the staff the written authority that had been granted to him for the unconventional intervention. The staff went away unhappy. The Therapist did notice later that day that the doughnuts brought earlier remained uneaten.
At lunchtime, the therapist unlocked the cupboard and wheeled Nigel back to the care staff that ministered to him in the usual fashion.
After lunch, Nigel was wheeled back into the cupboard with the passing whisper, “Look, let’s see if we can string out this all week, it’s a really cushy number!” and the Therapist once again locked the door.
That evening Nigel was handed back to the care staff and the therapist went home. He was back in early again the next morning and when he took command of Nigel in his wheelchair, Nigel did something – he looked at the Therapist, and it was a look that communicated something. Precisely what that something was no one was sure, but the care staff saw it too. “He seems angry,” said one of the nurses.
At around 8am, with Nigel fed and watered, the Therapist wheeled him along the corridor to the cupboard. As he did so, he said in a jovial manner into one of Nigel’s ears, “Thanks ever so much for this – I really do appreciate it,” and placed him back into the cupboard and locked it.
By 1030am that very same morning, that cupboard door was off its hinges and a very angry looking Nigel was found standing in the corridor screaming, “cocksuckingmotherfuckingcuntingshitcuntbastard!” And as if to complete the image, he actually had spittle flying from his mouth and drool on his chin.
It certainly as if Nigel was awake and he was looking more responsive than yesterday. Yet, this behaviour appeared to unsettle the staff more than when he was locked in the cupboard.
So, the first thing that they did?
They sedated him.
1 Comment | Posted by Andrew Austin at 12:18
Friday 22nd March 2013
I've not had too much free time recently to make any decent blog postings, so, sorry for that. So instead, a quick vanity update to promote current projects.
1. I'm helping out at the National Theatre with an upcoming production. My involvement is actually quite small, but it is very exciting none-the-less. Not sure if I am allowed to tell you who or what but if i can, I'll post details later on.
2. Big things are happening with the Metaphors of Movement project - as well as overseas training courses, I'm putting together "The Movement" - this is a massive undertaking and I'm seeking assistance with this. In particular I need designers/artists who are able to donate some time to help with with the lodge design. Details: http://metaphorsofmovement.co.uk/the-movement/
3. I'm filming for another huge project that is a development on Metaphors in My Attic, which focusses on healing and physical disease. This is mighty and will be priced at £499 when it is finally finished, which in theory, should be later this year. I'm seeking more volunteers with physical illnesses who are happy to be filmed for this project.
4. The Identity Project with Lucas Derks - if you don't know Lucas, then you really, really ought to. This man is without a doubt a genuine genius, but he is too humble to admit it. Buy his book, "Social Panoramas" and pay attention to his research. Anyway, we have filmed for an online program about identity and therapy. Thids will be ready by the end of the summer, we hope.
5. A research project on adolescent deliberate self harm. I aim to have this submitted for peer review by the middle of next year and will be doing this through a UK university.
Add a comment | Posted by Andrew Austin at 09:53
Thursday 14th February 2013
A very common theme in the hypnotherapy and complementary therapy world is that of "charging as much as you can" and "the higher you charge, the more you will be respected."
Something I have encountered a lot is, "if it is important to the client then they will pay anyway."
I'm not so sure about this, and I personally wonder if this reflects the elevated egos of so many private therapists.
The reality is that many people with problems simply do not have the money and so to insist that they pay a high fee will only add to their burdens and not necessarily help them in a positive way.
The other issue of a high fee is that it acts as a very good filter by excluding those people at the really shit-end of life and instead works to select in those who have a significant disposable income to spend on a luxury as hypnotherapy.
Therapists do like their YARVIS clients the most (Young, Attractive, Rich, Verbal, Intelligent and Sane) and the really screwed up ones who are without money, have poor articulation and poor personal hygiene are definitely to be avoided. It's easy to claim a high success rate when one's clients don't really have many major problems in living and all they have are cosmetic problems.
But then we all want to earn a good living and have the dream life that they told us about on our training course. Or more importantly, the dream life they told us about to get us on their training course in the first place.
Well, what did you expect? What do therapists do when they don't get enough clients…they run training courses in how to get clients!
So here's a simple guideline for knowing how much to charge: do you feel bad, guilty or awkward with the amount of money you charge? Are you scared of "being found out"? That is the clue - you are charging too much.
For years I have suffered the problem of ego maniacs and general dipshits in the NLP world telling me to put up my prices. Well, where are those people now? Most of them are either in enormous debt or have gone back to their day jobs. Really. But their websites are all still online displaying the ridiculous prices they pretended to be charging when in fact they never got any clients at all. How do I know this? I do a credit check on these people.
The internet is a grave yard of websites that preach success but actually were never successful in the first place, and this gives the illusion that people are all earning loads of money and we are the ones who are not doing so well. I have copies of the financial records of a good number of trainers and therapists and it doesn't make very good reading at all. Despite it all, I still don't understand how it is possible to rack up a six figure debt by being a hypnotherapist, but it isn't uncommon.
Something I did several years back which was quite successful was to offer two prices - £25 (students, low wage) and £95 (waged) - I always let people decide for themselves which price they paid. People coming via my websites hardly ever selected the cheaper option. The local social services such as community housing, probation office, crisis centres and so forth did provide me with a steady stream of £25 clients which kept me very busy indeed and helped me to build the extensive professional network that i have today.
Years back, I also did "Free Fridays" where I'd offer one or two sessions for free on Friday - anyone could book those sessions, regardless of income. Again, people were good about that, the waged ones would mention that they deliberately weren't asking for a free session.
And the ones who did book the free sessions? Well, most of them were either late, didn't show up, or were moaners who always wanted more, more more and nothing was ever good enough. So I stopped the free Fridays.
Anyway ,just some random thought, hope this helps,
2 Comments | Posted by Andrew Austin at 05:12
Friday 18th January 2013
In a week where I have so far failed to find a new training venue, I've had quite an interesting time. At the beginning of the week, I was consulting with the BBC for a documentary that they planning on making. I do this kind of thing a lot, I am hoping that eventually I will be able to move from a behind-the-scenes-advisor role into a more "on the screen and paid loads of money" role. This one looks more promising than most, so I look forward to seeing what comes from it.
I've also excitedly agreed to continue on a research project with a major university in the treatment of phantom limb pain and related issues.
I had a day in London teaching a corporate group on Thursday. On the way into London I got a message that London Victoria station had been evacuated due to a fire. The Great British Public are always awesome in such situations, and despite the inevitable problems of masses of people trying to get into London in the rush hour with a main station temporarily closed, the spirit of co-operation and patience was admirable. I just wish people didn't sniff, cough and splutter quite so much on crowded trains and that there was someone serving tea. But there wasn't, the train was just far too crowded, as always.
This morning whilst taking the dog out to play in the snow and feed the seagulls to try and get some interesting photos of them in the snow (photos here) we were approached by a lady who had found an injured Black Headed Gull in the field. The poor thing was nearly frozen to death and once again the Great British public leapt into action with Operation Gull Rescue. The heavy snow meant that the usual people we call out for such events (living by the sea, we find them not too infrequently) would be unlikely to make it, so they organised with a local vet who said they'd take it, which is where we took it to. No objections, no dramas, just a load of kindness.
I'm still trying to give away over £20,000 of business to a training venue or conference facility. It seems that this week, no one is replying to their emails, or answering their 'phones.
1 Comment | Posted by Andrew Austin at 16:30
Wednesday 16th January 2013
I think I know why there is a recession on. There's only one reason - people are completely crap when it comes to business.
Or maybe it is just me and I'm having one of those weeks.
A company I employ to handle my credit card processing sent me a snotty letter. "Your direct debit has failed and you owe us £23.40p." But there is no reference as to why I owe them this money, or an invoice number or anything at all in fact. But the letter continues, "Failure to pay within 7 days of this letter will incur a £30 penalty as outlined in our terms and conditions."
Well, that's just charming. So I check with the bank - all direct debits are working just fine.
So I call the company's billing department. Apparently my call is important to them, but no one answers. I try umpteen times over several days. Still no luck.
So I email them. No reply. This all began back in December. On the 20th, to be precise. I email them repeatedly.
Still no one answers the phone, and no one has replied to my numerous emails.
Then customers started to complain to me that they couldn't make payments online. I contact the company support desk. Eventually I get a reply. Apparently there is nothing wrong with the credit card processing, my customers simply aren't using it correctly.
But still those pesky customers keep complaining that they can't pay me money.
Several arguments later with the technical support monkeys and I cancel their service. Still no word on that issue of the £23.40 pence though.
I'll wait for the legal letter, maybe the legal department will be more helpful.
Then on Monday a venue that I had booked for an event this year emailed me. Sorry they said, but due to a computer glitch, they need to change my booking. What this translates to is that someone there has double booked the venue and as the smaller player, I get dumped.
Now the thing is the room I booked was a very specific room. The requirements for the venue ware exact and this booking fulfilled those requirements. I'm offered an alternative room "at no extra charge" but this alternative doesn't fulfil the requirements. It's a bit like paying for an iPad only to be told, "Sorry, we have had to cancel your iPad, but here's a mouldy banana and a free cup of tea instead at no extra charge."
So, I start shopping around for alternative venues. I think I find one and i send off an email to the conference booking manager. Yes, we have a room that is perfect for you," she tells me. "Can you send me a picture?" I ask
"No." she tells me.
Wait. So, let me just check. I'm wanting to book a large training room for the better part of a week (about £3000-£4000) plus refreshments (probably about £150 a day) including hotel accommodation for about 35 people for either 3 or 4 nights at £147 per night. People who will also inevitably buy breakfast and an evening meal as well drinks at the bar. And this person can't be bothered send me a photo.
"Perhaps you could use a camera phone and send it over to me?" I try suggesting.
"Sorry, we don't do that, but please don't hesitate to let me know if there is anything further I can do for you!" she says cheerfully ending the converstion.
And right there, right then in a little *poof!!* noise and a painful lack of initiative, £20,000 of guaranteed business for that hotel vanished in a little puff of smoke.
So, I move on. I find a well known hotel chain with a good reputation. I've stayed in some of their hotels before and always found them to be very good. So, I go to their website to find the phone number of the exact hotel I require.
But there is no phone number for the hotel.
I can only find a generic central phone number. The website suggests that I enter a web-enquiry and a customer service agent will call me back.
Now, remember, my requirements are very specific. A customer service agent in Calcutta is unlikely to be able to answer any of my questions. "Fuck it," I think, "nothing to lose", so I click the link.
Except it doesn't take me to a phone number or a place where I leave my phone number. No, what it does is it takes me to an account creation page and only when i have created a business account can I "submit my enquiry." Fuckwits.
And right there, right then in one swift click, £20,000 of business just vanished for that hotel chain.
I call the next hotel. The phone rings out in the conference booking department. I wait half an hour and call again. It rings solidly and rings out. No answer phone to leave a message. So I look at their website, there is a "submit enquiry" form.
I fill it in.
I click send.
And I get a screen load of error messages. Stack overflow runtime error 6000, or something (I don't care. Nerds, please don't bother trying to correct me or explain it to me, I'll probably just be rude to you).
And right there, right then, another hotel loses £20,000 of guaranteed business.
And then something magical happens.
Calming me from my mounting fury, I find something really special. I mean, really, really special. I can't tell you what it is, because it would reveal where it is, but trust me, it is the Piece de Resistance of training venues. I know it will be expensive, but I think it is worth a punt. I send off a speculative email enquiry outlining my exact requirements.
A reply comes really back quite quickly. But there is something a bit strange about the reply.
It has a bunch of attachments that are actually booking forms and confidential data that has been sent over to them by another potential customer.
God only knows how they got attached to the reply email. Then there is the thing about the price. It seems far too cheap for what they are offering. But, the email says, in bold red letters beneath the venue details, that this is the correct price and for this specific venue.
I go bounding into the other room where my wife is working. I think she is pleased that I've finally stopped ranting. I tell her the good news. The dog wags his little tail, he too is happy. But the look on my wife's face tells me what the voice in the back of my head is also telling me.
I send an email back querying that they have sent me the correct details.
"Oh no," they tell me, in complete contradiction to the big red letters in their earlier email, "The price we have quoted you is for the main training room, not [the really special place]"
The main training room seats 20. It's another mouldy banana.
But did they think, "Oh, maybe we should give him the prices for the other rooms?"
No they didn't. That would require some kind of initiative, so I have to send another email back to them to ask this.
And guess what. No reply.
I'll watch the news later. It will continue to tell me that we are in recession.
And I will smile a little knowing smile of exactly why this is.
Do please share your stories in the comments section below.
4 Comments | Posted by Andrew Austin at 16:36