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Distractionable Intelligence

When I hear an interview about a national security issue, the phrase "actionable intelligence" is often used. The phrase is also often used in the business world, being defined " as any information (or clues) that can be utilized to boost a company's strategic position against industry competitors. In order for information to be actionable, it must be transferred into real actions."

Problem solving with a client who presents with pain is similar to these situations in that you have a presenting problem, and need revealing information on which to act. Once you gather all the details, then a course of action must be pursued. While there are many ways that the process can go awry, the most common one that I witness is in the information gathering process. Many times, the more details a client revels, th more difficult it is to know what to do. This is the principle of "distractionable intelligence". There is a great saying; "When looking for a needle in a haysack, more hay won't help." There is clearly an information hierachy; not everything the client shares is related to the presenting symptom. Even if it is related, not everything carries the same weight. Some bits of information are clearly more important than others. It is our job to make that determination, not the client.

As therapists, our job is to look for patterns and models of understanding that would explain what the client is experiencing. Once we think we have a model of understanding, that theory must be tested by a treatment strategy. This is where the importance of clear benchmarks comes in. Yesterday, I saw a client with back pain. If she flexed forward at 15 degrees, her back would begin hurting. I rechecked her ability to forward flex multiple times during the session. My role was to keep altering the treatment strategy until flexing forward was painless. When this happened, it was a clear validation of the effectiveness of PNMT for her (and for me).

Our goal is to move from "distractionable intelligence" to "actionable intelligence". Helping you clarify that process is what the PNMT Form and Function seminar is all about.

Douglas Nelson

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