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The Power of Dissonance

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  • From what I've read I think the attitude that you are facing is "I'd rather be wrong and think I'm right, than to be right and know I was wrong."

    I can't help but parallel this to Physical Therapy and the different approaches people take. Most on this list who have taken your class and are still here, knew that something wasn't right with what they knew going in. The ones who are having difficulty are the ones who still want to be right.

    It seems that your approach has been to coerce your students into accepting the facts, like some therapists try to coerce the bodies of their patients. The nervous system of both student and patients resists these approaches. The answer for both lies within themselves and your job is to coax it out of them. This can best be done by not confronting the resistance directly, but by allowing the pt/student to resolve the dissonance themselves, with you provoking the dissonance as little as possible. Perhaps a Simple Contact approach to your teaching and not just to your Manual Therapy is in order.

    Currently you seem to start the class with provoking the maximum amount of dissonance, telling them that what they believe is wrong, at that point you've lost all those that weren't ready to hear that coming in. Why do that? (If you do, I haven't been to your class). If it has to be done, rearrange it so it comes at the end of class, so that dissonance doesn't interfere with listening and learning, only with accepting.

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    • Randy,

      I hear you.

      In response to my interrogation of reality regarding the problems with practice I commonly get a great deal of head nodding and excited anticipation. I say, "I'm absolutely convinced that this can change, and that it can change for you today."

      My response to the "dominance gesture" that Diane mentions says something about my manner as well.

      The therapist who made me beg for an answer came back late from lunch, pulled a chair into the back of this small room, turned it slightly toward the back wall, put iPod headphones on and flipped open a magazine.

      I never said a thing and an hour later she took her act into the hotel lobby.
      Barrett L. Dorko

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      • I didn't know you were teaching were highschoolers. That changes things.

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        • Sounds more like preschool....she put herself in the "naughty chair" for a time-out. Wow. There is no excuse for that level of rude behavior. Why wouldn't she just leave? Did she need the CEU's?

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          • Being like Jim

            Ultimately, this woman gave me a great gift and a good story to tell. I was also offered the opportunity to remain focused, calm and protective of the class. This behavior was designed not only to display her disagreement with my words and disgust with my way of being, it also said volumes about her regard for the rest of the class. I’m sure some people realized this but, the culture being what it is, nobody said anything.

            My son Alex is a huge fan of the TV series The Office, as am I. Recently he suggested that I watch a certain character’s reaction to the craziness that often surrounds him. It’s the salesman Jim Halpert. Read his “character profile” on the link and you get a sense that this is a private, seemingly simple but inwardly complex man. Watching the show you begin to realize that though he never responds to actual threat with retaliation or anger his quiet consideration of what just happened is clear and he only does that which is absolutely necessary in response. I’ve seen him convey true remorse, apology and gentle humor over and over again in a way that draws others toward him, and he makes friends easily.

            He also infuriates Dwight, another salesman, but that’s a whole other thing.

            I want to be like Jim Halpert, who in response to dissonance always knows what to do, and, more importantly, what not to do.
            Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 07-05-2012, 06:34 PM.
            Barrett L. Dorko

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            • I think you must be referring to the "Jim" in this video, popping Dwight's "fitness orb".
              Diane
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              "Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

              “Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

              “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

              "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

              "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire

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              • I want to be like Jim Halpert

                Not Stanley?


                Just joking.
                "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris

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                • Barrett, I'm new here, so these questions may be a bit naive, but anyhow...do you have a private practice? Do you find satisfaction in patient care? Do you like the outcomes you get? Do you feel there's anything missing in what you can do with patients? HOw do you frame the goals you set for treatment? Donna

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                  • Also, is your despair due to others not "getting" it? Donna

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                    • Barrett, Jim Halpert doesn't have a mission. Imagine him with a mission, if you want to be like him. Donna

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                      • Yes, yes, yes, no, I don't "get" the question, I'm not in "despair" and, what difference does Halpert having a "mission" (or not) make to any of this?
                        Barrett L. Dorko

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                        • Barrett, The answer would lose something in translation. Never mind. Donna

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                          • Maybe there's still more to this story. William B Swann Jr. has written a review of the Tavris and Aronson book. It is titled Blind Spots and can be found on the American Scientist web site.

                            Swann Jr. makes an observation that I find interesting:
                            ...if one buys the assumption that dissonance is restricted to people with positive self-views (and not all theorists do), then dissonance is not a universal motive but instead applies only to the roughly 70 percent of the population who possess positive self-views.
                            Would you estimate this is true of 70% of your classes Barrett?
                            Eric Matheson, PT

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                            • Eric,

                              It’s a good question and I’m sure I don’t have an answer.

                              I’ve met a lot of therapists who have a very high opinion of their personal approach to the work yet it’s obvious they haven’t read anything in years. They feel that their patients “love” them and have a vague sense of their improvement so everything’s hunky-dory in their world. A very nice man spoke to me at length before class began last week about the amazing success he’s had with headaches poking a finger into the side of the patient’s neck. Apparently he’s well-known for this and has made some money doing it though he admitted without my questioning that he has no idea what’s going on.

                              I imagine he was horrified at my presentation. How he dealt with that dissonance is known only to him.
                              Barrett L. Dorko

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                              • Some of the following is copied from the Milk and Cookies thread in The News from Cuyahoga Falls. I felt it fit in here perfectly.

                                A quote from Edwin H. Friedman:

                                The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choicest words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech.

                                I especially like that bit about "words pursuing" and realized that many therapists are already on the run when they enter the workshop. I have to think carefully about what I can do to calm them, settle them, and make them feel at home before I drop the hammer.

                                On second thought, maybe "dropping the hammer" isn't the best analogy, and may not lead to the attitude Friedman advocates.

                                So, what are so many running from? Today I feel it’s the reality they’ve discovered at work. Many tell me they aren’t really doing anything they understand as therapeutic, they’re just following protocols that have proven ineffective but are easily documented. Every moment is driven by billing, and they hadn’t imagined that this would be their career. They aren’t in charge and have others who depend upon their paycheck. Who wouldn’t run?

                                The dissonance this situation produces must be huge, and prior to coming to class they’ve already dealt with it various ways. If denial is one of them, my words don’t help and though they can run from the reality of their daily activity my words are harder to escape. If they’re seated next to a colleague from work this may make it worse.

                                This is also why I worked alone.
                                Barrett L. Dorko

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