An Interview with Andrew T. Austin –
Author of the bestselling book, “The Rainbow Machine – Tales from a Neurolinguist’s Journal“ and developer and trainer of the Integral Eye Movement Therapy and Metaphors of Movement
With many of his articles recommended by a number of leading universities as study material for psychology students, he is regularly consulted by television production and media companies regarding alternative psychology, hypnosis and neurological syndromes.
You will be coming back to Israel for the second time in twelve months to present on yet another 4 day seminar.
What was your previous personal Israel experience like?
Israel is easily one of my top five favorite places. Before I went, I had no idea of what to expect. The only knowledge I had of Israel was through the news media, and of course with the reporting biases that go on in the quest for sensational stories, it is impossible to know what to really expect.
To see so many of the places that have been at the heart of the development of Western culture was amazing, and of course, I got to float in the Dead Sea for the first time, which is something I’d wanted to do ever since I heard about this as a young child.
What was the highlight of your visit?
I can’t pick one, so I’ve got two highlights. A day spent exploring Jerusalem and the day driving out to the Dead Sea and surrounding areas.
Jerusalem offered such an insight into the spirituality that is so important to so many people, and the vibrancy of the place was quite impressive to see. As a keen amateur photographer, I think I took over one thousand photographs that day. The Dead Sea trip offered such an unusual experience of being out in an otherwise inhospitable environment only to find that it is teeming with life. Again, a photographers dream.
The previous course you taught, although not a known technique to many, seemed to attract a large audience, a few people even flew in from abroad to take part. What defines your work as different to what others are teaching?
Something I have tried for many years is to be ordinary. In the personal development industry, there seems a need for gross exaggeration, show biz and charisma. The first one is easy, but I was never very good at the second two.
I’ve been teaching IEMT (Integral Eye Movement Therapy) for a few years in its current form, so I think by the time I visited Israel, word had reached Israel. The internet has facilitated the spread of information amazingly well, and Israel being a small country with a strong sense of community has meant that word gets around very quickly.
What has been so impressive about (IEMT), is the feedback that therapists give me after they have learned the technique. People are reporting back that some client’s who have effectively failed in therapy over years are being transformed in a single session. This is great to hear. I have to keep reminding people that IEMT is not the grand unified theory of therapy, nor will it treat everything or be suitable for everyone; I don’t want people getting carried away, but for some people it is indeed quite life changing.
Tell us something about the upcoming training ‘Metaphors of Movement’? What’s the idea behind it? Who inspired your work?
‘Metaphors of Movement’ is about changing that feeling of being stuck. People get stuck in so many ways – they feel that something holds them back, they feel trapped, stuck in a rut, not going anywhere in life, blocked, something stands in their way.
There are just so many expressions of how people experience being stuck.
With ‘metaphors of movement’ we listen very carefully to how people individually structure their stuck experience, and work with that. It’s all metaphorical, and what we find is that metaphors are incredibly information dense. What this means is that we only need a very small amount of information in order to be able to extrapolate a lot of information about the problem.
After a while, people who are practiced in this start to sound like they are mind readers to those who are naïve to the process. It can be quite an extraordinary experience.
The applications of the work are still emerging. One area that I am still developing is that of using the MoM models in forensic linguistics, and so far this is showing huge promise in the area of business analysis and financial risk assessment for money lenders and investors.
As I am primarily a therapist, the Metaphors of Movement work has transformed the way I work with clients, and I am able to get to the actual problem so much quicker and so much of the time clients are finding solutions to lifelong problems with astonishing ease. I am finding a significant increase in the number of clients who after a session refer other members of their family or friends to come and see me for the same type of work.
As a therapist, how does MoM change the way one approaches a client in a therapy session?
There are many changes with the MoM approaches, the main one is the treatment for the problem is not solution focused. This is initially quite a challenge to trainees who are usually trained to be problem solvers in one capacity or other. Outcome focused therapists are often successful in creating a temporary change, but over long term follow up my observation was that clients quickly returned back into their problem state. This is because the solution did not match the structure of the problem.
I explain this with two axioms:“When you are lost, knowing where you want to be may not help you, it might be more useful to find out where you are.” and, “fantasizing an outcome may make you feel better by distracting you from the problem, but feeling better isn’t necessarily going to help you either.”
Far too much of solution focused therapy seems to promote little more than a distraction by using what amounts to little more than fantasizing about a better life.
Metaphors of Movement attempts to address this by getting the client much more reality focused, rather than fantasy/outcome focused.
The results on follow up have been remarkable; people have become much more pro-actively creative in their lives and are taking much more effective action, rather than simply hoping to feel better.
I understand that you’ve been asked to boycott and cancel your upcoming course in Tel Aviv. How do you respond to that?
I’m always pleased when I see people taking peaceful action for a cause they believe in. I was asked to participate in the ‘intellectual boycott of Israel’ with the suggestion that the boycott of South Africa helped bring about an end to Apartheid, so a boycott of Israel would help end what has been termed ‘the Palestinian Crisis.’
I don’t know enough about the Israel-Palestine situation to have any view on the matter either way, nor do I see it be my place to do so. However, I do respect and appreciate being approached regarding the issue.
The reply I sent back essentially highlighted that my visit to Israel has meant that a significant number of people who help others overcome traumas and mental health problems have a new set of techniques by which to do this, and many of the people who attended were working to deliver care both for Israeli and Palestinians in need.
As a clinician, I seek to relieve suffering without prejudice to gender, sexuality, race, color, politics or religion and I am certain that this is an ethic shared by the vast majority of clinicians who attend my training courses.
Relieving suffering and helping people to heal is a vital part of any peace process. But I understand that not everyone shares that view.
What can an attendee on your MoM course expect from the training?
The training is structured to be highly experiential and is split equally between lectures and demonstrations and practical work. Based on experience, I can be certain that most people will have a lot of “Wow!” moments and personal breakthroughs.
What will you be looking forward to in coming back to Israel next time around?
On the next trip, I am planning on staying a few extra days to see more of the country. I’m hoping my wife will accompany me for a vacation and I want to explore more of the old cities.
How was Israel different to how you imagined it?
Any mental picture I had of Israel prior to arriving was removed within minutes. I think one of the things that stand out most for me about the Israeli people is their sense of humor!
Thanks for the interview Andy and looking forward to drinking tea with you in Israel