The Role of "Expert" Assistance
This page is part of our series on Integral Learning™. You can click here to start reading this series from the beginning. Or, you can use this brief recap to review, or to jump-start your reading from here.
As we've explored Integral Learning™ together, you've learned a lot about our philosophy behind learning and living. For instance, you've learned that we believe that
1. The health of our learning and the health of our mind-bodies are inseparable.
a. We refuse to ignore or suppress our foundational senses. We don't beat down our bodies.
b. We train our minds. Though we often need to slow down, we don't try to connect with the soma by emptying our minds or contemplating inner promptings.
c. We don't unthinkingly adopt postures or breathing patterns from polytheistic religions. We practice discernment. We use HANDLE® or other somatic explorations to restore our ability to efficiently use our intellect and to remind ourselves of what's basic.
2. Whatever view of what it means to be human that one adopts, it's important to recognize the role of the autonomic nervous system (what Hebrews and Greeks in the Judeo-Christian heritage called our heart, kidneys, and bowels) and to remember who we are.
3. To identify a learner's strengths and weaknesses, it's important to draw key distinctions about learners and the learning process in general. (We'll investigate ways to leverage these distinctions on the sixth and final page of this Integral Learning™ series).
4. Amid many imprecise or inaccurate schemas of human learning, the Integral Learning™ Model's unique representation of the relationships between sensory-motor function and cognitive functions expands on the Structure of Intellect (SOI) model and dovetails with HANDLE® to provide
a. Accurate and precise sensory-motor and cognitive profiles.
b. Somatic activity programs that
1) Remind our nervous systems of increasingly familiar, comfortable sensations,
2) Help restore proper function to whatever sensory-motor systems are compromised;
And that provide a repertoire of activities to draw from during moments of stress,
3) Reminding us of the "big picture," as we become fully present to the moment, and
4) Helping to restore our awareness of the "felt sense" (the nous), so we can discern what's most important in the moment.
c. Cognitive training programs that help translate increasing strength of foundational skills into excellency in creative thinking, problem solving, and the basic skills of the Four R's: reading, writing, arithmetic, and relationships.
We chose to specialize in HANDLE® intentionally and to draw from other modalities as needed. We strongly believe in our approach to neurodevelopmental, somatic, and cognitive enrichment, but you don't have to agree with us on much of anything to receive our services. We appreciate that choosing whether to seek professional assistance for difficulties learning, moving, or easing pain can be a difficult decision. Choosing professional(s) that are right for you and your family can be even more difficult. We've written what follows to help with that decision—regarding us, or any other provider:
First, it's important to affirm: you can make a difference in your own and/or a loved one's learning experiences, especially when you act
1. With courage: With your own determination to do whatever it takes;
2. With accurate perception: With clarity of mind, willingness to learn, and ability to see anew;
3. With grounded perspective: With information supported by accurate perceptions and sound logic; and
4. With others: With a community that welcomes your contribution and with whom you share a vision of learning in faith.
Since it's often possible to solve learning problems without "expert" assistance, how can we know when professional help is necessary, and if we want help, how can we proceed? Specifically:
1. What criteria are most important in choosing help?
2. Are there important things to know before committing to a particular provider?
3. What are the risks of professional help?
4. What concrete steps can one take to minimize those risks?
As in other sections in our exploration of Integral Learning™, some of the ideas in this section may be new to you, and you might need to re-read this several times. That's okay! Soon, you'll be surprised how simple these ideas seem. So sit back, grab a cup of herbal tea or other favorite beverage, give your computer monitor a hug, and read on…
Characteristics of Good Help: Occasionally, you may want to seek professional help. Since some "help" can do more harm than good, it's important to choose wisely. Ideally, the following should characterize whatever professional you choose:
1. Recognition of Design: (S)he recognizes design and, ideally, a Designer, in his/her practice.
2. Expertise: (S)he's an expert in the field.
3. Investment: (S)he doesn't promise something for nothing.
4. Family Friendly: (S)he's willing to work with your family, as you are.
5. You—Part of the Team: (S)he values your knowledge of yourself and your child.
6. Doesn't REIFY: (S)he doesn't present a name for your symptoms as the cause of those symptoms.
Recognition of Design (1)
The practitioner recognizes design and, ideally, a Designer, in his/her practice.
1. This criteria is primarily important for professionals who will be advising you, especially regarding whether you need a particular procedure.
2. A professional may profess belief in a Designer on Saturday or Sunday but largely disregard that Designer in his/her professional life.
a. This disjunct between profession and practice is often true of surgeons:
(1) There is nothing inherently wrong with surgery. Praise the Lord for gifted surgeons! I would personally call a surgeon if something went wrong with my body. However, you may want to think twice about first asking a surgeon what interventions to pursue.
(2) Many surgeons may profess belief in design and a Designer but practically deny that design by recommending surgery for a condition that can be corrected through training.
(a) An opthamologist or orthopedic surgeon working from a modern, humanist perspective may work with the belief: "The human body is messed up. By clipping these muscles, we can make your body do what we want it to. Surgery may make your body less adaptable. Nevertheless, if your body does (intelligently) adapt, we can repeat surgery to make your body do what we want it to again."
(b) In contrast, a developmental optometrist or somatic practitioner working from a design-honoring perspective may, in contrast, work with this belief: "A human body may sometimes get messed up, but the human body per se is intelligently designed to work together as a whole. Right now, your body isn't using these muscles optimally. With training, your body can begin to use these muscles better. Training will enhance your body's ability to adapt. Usually—if you're willing to put in a little work—you can preserve your body's adaptability through continued, at-home training."
Recognition of Design (2)
b. This disjunct between profession and practice is often true of psychiatrists and psychologists:
(1) There is nothing inherently wrong with psychology. Praise the Lord for helpful psychometrics, which can help us learn more about ourselves and chart a course of helpful change.
(2) Taking potent, mild-altering drugs, however, is frequently harmful.
(a) The Bible prohibits pharmakeia in lists of sins whose practitioners do not inherit the kingdom of God; e.g., Galatians 5:19-21. These sins have to do with
(i) Perversions of sexuality or
(ii) Perversions of spirituality
(iii) In connection with pagan worship (which perverted both sexuality and spirituality).
(b) Pharmakeia literally referred to the dispensing of poisons or drugs. Thus, it could be argued from context that the drugs that the Bible prohibits are those that
(i) Interfere with normal human sexuality; i.e., birth control or emergency contraceptives that kill developing embryos;
(ii) Produce altered states of consciousness; i.e., recreational, hallucinogenic, or psychotropic drugs; and/or
(iii) Are taken in conjunction with idolatry.
(c) Depending on a drug whose side effects include irreparable neurological harm and possible death instead of passing time with the Lord and His people in prayer, worship, and fellowship isn't ideal. Some people, whether due to past drug use or side effects of heroic preservations of their lives, now need drugs to maintain relatively normal function. We can't always have the ideal; we can always treat one another with grace.
(3) As we lead in grace toward those who have used or become dependent upon psychiatric medications, we ought also exercise discernment with those who are considering them. Specifically, we ought to consider, given the Biblical injunctions explored above: How wise it is to embark on experiments with antidepressants, neuroleptics, powerful stimulants, addictive sedatives, and other drugs on ourselves or our children, especially when the effects of these powerful medicines are different for different people (and thus unknown going into the experiment), and especially if training that acknowledges God's design of our mind-bodies might be able to empower us to change to the point where we no longer feel a need for such drugs?
Expertise & Investment
The practitioner is truly an expert.
1. This criteria is primarily important for professionals who will be implementing a procedure on your behalf.
2. It would, in general, be a much better decision to get surgery from an experienced atheist who has performed over ten thousand of the operations you're considering, with a 96%+ success rate, than to get the same surgery from an inexperienced Christian in your local hospital who is eager to get some practice.
The practitioner requires investment.
1. Many practitioners offer "freebies" or "teasers." There is nothing wrong with these. Free presentations, activities, or office visits
a. Give you the opportunity to meet the practitioner and determine Yes, I want to work with this person.
b. Give you the opportunity to consider the practitioner's approach and determine Yes, to the extent I understand this approach, I agree with it. I'm on-board.
c. Give the practitioner the opportunity to meet you and determine Yes, I want to work with this person: they're respectful toward me and on-board with my general approach to practice.
2. Any practitioner whose approach offers "something for nothing" is risky.
a. How successful is this medicine or therapy at changing behavior patterns long-term?
b. If I start taking this medicine or pursuing this treatment, can I stop at any time—or may withdrawal symptoms make it truly difficult to stop?
(1) Might I end up taking this pill for the rest of my life… just because I'm trying it now?
(2) Might I end up taking this pill for the rest of my life… whether or not I would otherwise "need" it?
c. If I experience side-effects from this medicine while under this practitioner's care, does (s)he have a track record of prescribing yet another pill to help with the side-effects of the first?
(1) How many pills do I really want to take?
(2) If I start down this path, how easily can I choose another?
d. Might this medicine compel me to hurt myself or others? (Please visit SSRI Stories, which chronicles connections between anti-depressants and acts of violence, if you think this prospect is unrealistic, unlikely, or could never happen to you.)
Family Friendly & You
The practitioner is family friendly.
1. How certain are you that the practitioner you've chosen won't misinterpret your child's behavior, your child's interpretations of at-home discipline, your child's accounts of living conditions while at home or traveling—or anything else—as evidence of abuse or neglect… then cooperate with DCFS to forcibly remove your child from your home?
2. If you're not absolutely certain, are you really ready to allow your child to be tested or counseled in an environment in which you're not physically present and/or are barred from observing, possibly via a two-way mirror or closed-circuit television system?
3. If the practitioner you're considering is a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist
a. Are you confident your child's counselor won't advise your child to pursue courses of action inconsistent with your family's value system?
b. Are you confident your counselor (or your family's counselor) acknowledges the same Authority you do?
(1) How often does (s)he refer to Scripture?
(2) How often does(s)he use Scripture only for "proof texts" to justify his/her recommendations?
(3) How often does (s)he take time during counseling visits to model careful handling of Scripture, effectively discern a passage's meaning and ensuring you understand how it applies?
(4) How often does(s)he call you to a higher standard of obedience to what you know is right?
(5) If the answer to the above is "seldom" or "hardly ever," does it make sense to go to this practitioner for counsel?
c. If your child over 12 is receiving counseling, has (s)he signed a Release of Information consent form so that you may see his/her records? If not, how will you know what's going on in counseling sessions?
4. Given the above, practical concerns about practitioners' Family Friendliness, how much time have you spent in prayer before selecting a service provider?
The practitioner treats you as a crucial member of the team.
Likely, you spend much more time around your child than your practitioner will during an evaluation. Does your practitioner consider your observations and beliefs and treat you an crucial part of the team?
Doesn't R E I F Y
The practitioner doesn't reify.
Together, the above points form the Acrostic "R E I F Y." Reifying is a serious error: In the author's opinion, reification is among the Top 10 hindrances to learning and Christian living today. Reification is a logical error with a far-reaching record of ruin. If you haven't already read our in-depth page on Reification, please click here to do so now.
Reification is a powerful error of thinking. Other powerful errors of thinking, which are also important to avoid, include
1. Mere "positive thinking." Positive thinking says we generally get what we expect, and that happiness can be found by expecting more, so we can get more. It's a false idealism that minimizes the degree to which we naturally botch things up.
2. Stoicism. Stoicism says we generally get less than we expect, and that happiness can be found by lowering our expectations. It's a false pessimism that minimizes the degree to which we can change our circumstances.
3. A lucky mentality. A lucky mentality says we generally get more than we expect, and happiness can be found by delighting in good fortune. It at least avoids the pride of claiming we deserve whatever good we're given, but it hobbles our courage by disconnecting what we sow from what is reaped. Worse, it cripples trust in God by denying His providential provision.
When we avoid reification, it's easier to see that what we earn and what we get aren't necessarily related, and that we'll be happiest when
a. We expect only what we have been and are earning (in every area of life, including but not primarily financial);
b. When we appreciate what we have been and are given in grace;
c. When we admit our shortcomings freely;
d. When we purpose to earn more (in respect, influence, and opportunity, not just financially) as we learn with integrity; and
e. When we rely on the Word of God