Redecision therapy reconsidered

The underlying philosophy of redecision about human nature

As it is some 40 years since redecision therapy was first begun it is time to reconsider some of its main points. Some may know that in recent times I have produced a few journal articles that re examine the Don’t exist injunction, the whole area of suicide as it is viewed by redecision as well as the no suicide contract.

It seems timely to look at the main underlying assumptions about human nature that redecision therapy rests on. To begin one can look at the concept of Locus of control (LOC).

Locus of control (LOC) has been very widely researched over the years. People with an external LOC believe that outside forces make them think, feel and do what they do. People with an internal LOC believe their own abilities and efforts control what they think, feel and do.


It seems that redecision therapy has the assumption of a very internal LOC for human nature. As Bob Goulding says, “The patient has to know that he is in charge, and he has had years of conditioning which tell him that he is not in charge, that other people make him feel angry, or sad, or anxious”. (p87)

One could even say they have a philosophy that is an extreme internal LOC position.

With the emergence of co-creational Transactional Analysis there is now identified a third LOC, the relationship LOC. The interaction or transactions that occur between two people are seen to control what we think, feel and do.

Internal LOC = I make myself feel angry

External LOC = You make me feel angry

Relational LOC = We make me feel angry

Locus of control three types

First point.

An internal LOC is a empowering position. It is saying to the person, you can take charge and change your life. You are the one in control of your life script, feelings and so forth. For a client this it would seem is a most useful philosophy to have.

An external LOC would be seen as disempowering. Your feelings and life script are dependent on what others do the client is told. That is not establishing a frame of mind that will assist the client to change.
The relational LOC would also be seen as disempowering to some extent but less so than the external LOC but still disempowering nonetheless. My feelings and life script are determined by others as well as me, but still by the actions of others. So it is out of my control in that sense.

Second point.

Humans are influenced by others. When we interact or even just listen to others they can and do influence us. This, it is safe to say is probably a very widely held view in psychology. The Gouldings are kind of saying this is not so, or at least does not have to be so and that people can be islands not influenced by others.

Co creational TA is saying this, that we are influenced by others. It provides one explanation of how we can understand this influencing process. Of course there are other ways one could explain the influencing process.

How can one maintain the empowering philosophy of redecision therapy with the internal LOC and yet perhaps be a little less ‘extreme’. Acknowledge in some way that we are not islands and can be influenced by others?

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