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APPENDIX B: Examples of evaluations

Below we have highlighted the evaluative words in 40 people’s evaluation of their previous therapy/counselling. Each person was asked one of the following questions:

What did you get from the therapy or counselling you've had?
What was most valuable about your previous therapy or counselling?

By studying the list you will enhance your ability to detect when a person's language indicates they are making an evaluation. Each of these could be the entry point into an exploration of the interviewee's way of evaluating the therapy/counselling.

  • Not every answer is a clear evaluation; where not they have been marked as 'unspecified valence'.
  • Some answers have an 'implicit valence' (e.g. in example 6, 'integrative' in the context of therapy or counselling is highly likely to have to have a positive valence). Of course, the interviewee's nonverbals will make their evaluations clearer, but even so it is best to hold your suppositions lightly until there is clear evidence. 

  1. I felt powerless and it was useful having someone outside to talk to.

  2. I've done loads of therapy. It's helped me see clearly, focus on the big picture, have a sense of expanding into possibility where I feel loved and accepted, think about myself and my patterns.

  3. I like to try all kinds of things and see what works best. I took the best from what was on offer.

  4. Being able to arrive at a place of having some appreciation of my self worth.

  5. I tried three therapists for six sessions each. It was not successful. It had a negative rather than a positive effect. I don't want to be opened up.

  6. The sessions didn't go into depth but it did give me space. Overall I’d say it was an integrative experience.

  7. The most useful was to have somebody who loved me and accepted me for exactly who I am.

  8. I went for one session to clear the stuff that kept whamming me. It wasn't a breakthrough.

  9. I didn't feel safe enough to do work with her.

  10. The guy just bloody sat there. He may have been a student.

  11. It decreased the night terrors. It put things back on track but she left me with a damaging message at the end.

  12. I decided to go on to an NLP course. [unspecified valence]

  13. I’d say my anxiety was 50% down and that’s a fantastic success.

  14. I had a series of interesting insights. I’d talk about what happened, my reactions and my understandings and then we didn't do anything with it.

  15. Spotting my own patterns. [unspecified valence]

  16. I ended up conforming to the therapist's views. [unspecified valence]

  17. The therapist was not suitable for me.

  18. I saw a psychiatrist who was useless, he wanted to know who I was having sex with.

  19. A big realisation that everything is your own issue. Being able to see myself as I am.

  20. I went to a Freudian for my eating disorder and he told me I had ingested bad breast milk. [unspecified valence]

  21. The counsellor never had a clear idea of what I wanted. I could have got farther and quicker on my own.

  22. I came away feeling cold, unemotional and distant. I left feeling more rotten than when I came in.

  23. It empowered me to take full responsibility for what I have created in my life.

  24. It made me feel better for a while after seeing her. Then I would feel bad ‘til I saw her again.

  25. I realised I had had depression throughout my adult life. The 4-6 weeks of counselling made my depression worse. When I said I wanted to leave counselling she didn't argue. She just let me go.

  26. I went to therapy with a specific question and she offered me parts negotiation. [unspecified valence]

  27. I saw a counsellor and discovered my parents had been verbally abusive for a long time. I went and confronted my mom. She committed suicide. Now I feel so guilty.

  28. It was useful and interesting. At the bottom was self-acceptance.

  29. He said 'you're not trying hard enough'. I left annoyed.

  30. He got me in touch with my feelings and helped me cry.

  31. I realised I was abused. I was unjustly accused, abandoned and betrayed. It was most intense. I don't know if I have forgiven my parents. [unspecified valence]

  32. A staff counsellor made me feel worse than in the beginning. I had less self-esteem when I left.

  33. It was somebody to talk to. Otherwise it had no big impact. They had a lack of warmth and compassion and that was difficult to deal with.

  34. After one year I started a relationship with my therapist. [unspecified valence]

  35. Nice to have someone to talk to, but they kept trying to push me. It was never my choice.

  36. She was strong and gentle, and helped me at the same time. it was very safe and that was very important to me.

  37. The whole first session I told my life story. After that they kept telling me what I already knew. I never got anywhere.

  38. Whenever I got highly emotion she called 'time'. Another therapist got me to write lists, and I already knew how to do that. [unspecified valence]

  39. I'd gone in with a view – with shame, and it helped me see a different way of being.

  40. I learned to relax and take in the surrounds. I found it calm and reflecting. It helped me challenge my assessment of myself.

Penny Tompkins & James Lawley
Penny and James are supervising neurolinguistic psychotherapists – first registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy in 1993 – coaches in business, certified NLP trainers, and founders of The Developing Company.

They have provided consultancy to organisations as diverse as GlaxoSmithKline, Yale University Child Study Center, NASA Goddard Space Center and the Findhorn Spiritual Community in Northern Scotland.

Their book,
Metaphors in Mind
was the first comprehensive guide to Symbolic Modelling using the Clean Language of David Grove. An annotated training DVD, A Strange and Strong Sensation demonstrates their work in a live session. James has also written (with Marian Way) the first book dedicated to Clean Space: Insights in Space. Between them Penny and James have published over 200 articles and blogs freely available on their website:
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