Category Archives: Counselling

Worker’s Compensation: How To Manage The System

The idea of a Compensation system is excellent.

The intention is to support worker’s, or accident victims, or victim’s of crime, or some other group of people who have had bad things happen to them through no fault of their own, and help them get better.

However the reality ends up far different.

As a medical doctor, the various compensation systems are often a nightmare to deal with.

Even though they pay better than standard fees, doctors routinely avoid dealing with such cases if they can. Indeed in my practice I eventually refused to continue seeing such patients.

The legal and administrative hassles are incredible, and even worse, the health care outcomes are not good.

It seemed to me, as an insider that it wasn’t working for the greatest benefit of the injured person.

It turns out that it wasn’t just my opinion either.

So in 2009 just shortly after one of my original patient’s whom I had seen in the local WorkCover system died*, I put together a series of training.

These trainings are designed to be exactly what I would offer a patient who was coming to see me.

It’s what I would say to them, what I would advise them, and the information I would give them, so that they can make the most of what I have come to believe is a fundamentally flawed system.

There is no fixing this system – and sometimes you can’t even opt out of it!

The best I can offer is to change and empower YOU to make the most of it, however you can.

With that warning, let me welcome you into my ‘office’ for a self-help series of sessions on how to manage a Compensation system…

www.DrMartinRussell.com/wco/

 

*In Memoriam: Harry Magias – 1953-2009

The Power Of Negative Thinking

This a quote from a subheading in one of my favorite books of all time, “The Peter Principle“.

But in fact this approach has a long and rich history.

I am just about to head overseas on a 2 month trip with my wife and 3 small kids – and leave my counselling practice unattended for all that time.

For many reasons, this was something I assumed I would NEVER be able to do.

With the Power of Negative thinking (done more informally than Tim suggests in his video below) I managed to do it.

Think of this as a farewell from me – til November anyway – and, an invitation to you to apply negative thinking in your life for your success.

-Dr Martin Russell

Exercise And Weight Loss… The Final Nail?

The problem with studying exercise for weight loss is that you can’t really disguise the exercise.

If exercise came in a pill you could do it.

You could get a big group of people and randomly give half the pill with exercise in it, and the other half a dummy, sugar pill that looks, smells, tastes etc just the same (aka a ‘placebo’.)

This is the scientific way to test whether pills works for weight loss.

But what about exercise?

It’s a bit hard to have a ‘dummy, sugar pill’ for physical activity. The sweating and heart-pumping bit sort of gives it away.

What this means is that for exercise for weight loss there is no way to do the gold-standard of a “double-blind, placebo-controlled” study.

Is this a problem?

Oh my wordy, YES!

Time after time it has been shown that the psychological power of medicines is a huge part of their overall effectiveness.

But is this specifically a problem for exercise and weight loss?

Well I only know of one good study that covers that question.

The researchers didn’t invent a dummy, sugar pill, but they did the next best thing as Ben Goldacre at Bad Science reports

Alia Crum and Ellen Langer from Harvard psychology department took 84 female hotel attendants in 7 hotels. They were cleaning an average of 15 rooms a day, each requiring half an hour of walking, bending, pushing, lifting, and carrying.

These women were clearly getting a lot of good exercise, but they didn’t believe it: 66.6% of them reported not exercising regularly, and 36.8% said they didn’t get any exercise at all.

The study abstract reports that one group of the hotel attendants was…

…told that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. Examples of how their work was exercise were provided.

Subjects in the control group were not given this information.

Although actual behavior did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention, the informed group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before.

As a result, compared with the control group, they [the hotel attendants who were told that their cleaning job was in fact ‘exercise’] showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index.

These results support the hypothesis that exercise affects health in part or in whole via the placebo effect.

Now here is the really interesting bit.

HOW MUCH weight did people lose in 4 weeks merely by being thinking they were exercising?

These details are from PsyBlog

The average weight of those in the intervention group reduced from 145.5 lbs to 143.72 lbs. Over the same period the control group showed no significant change. For those of you working metric-style that’s 66.14 kg down to 65.33 kg.

That’s weight loss of almost 2 pounds, just under 1 kilogram, in just 4 weeks.

Not bad huh, for doing nothing extra?

So here’s the kicker.

Doesn’t that sound scarily similar to the 1 kilogram or 2.5 pounds in 12+ weeks that is the ENTIRE benefit of exercise anyway?!!!

[If you didn’t know this was all exercise does, see my previous post with the scientific evidence.]

Exercise, if done for weight loss alone, has suddenly become not just a minor factor, but instead an utter waste of time!

Could this really be the final nail in the exercise / weight loss coffin?

Massive industries of gyms, fitness equipment manufacturers, personal trainers etc etc hope it’s not true.

But what is there left that could resurrect exercise as a real weight loss tool?

If any one knows, I’m all ears.

-Dr Martin Russell

Psychological Magic

One of my favorite lines in hypnosis is the idea that you “know much more than you know you know”… at least unconsciously.

There is so much information in the world that it is impossible to take it all in consciously.

You know a part of it, but what do you know without recognizing it.

As I write this there is the feeling of my shoes on my feet, the hum of the computer and the color of the walls around me that I ‘know’ at least at some level but I take for granted.

I loved magic as a kid but ended up in mind tricks instead. The two are very linked as thisvideo shows.

[This may seem like a pretty simple bit of magic, but it gets more interesting about half-way through.]

-Dr Martin Russell

Working Through A Problem

What the **** does that mean really?

What does it mean to “get over” something?

What about “sort it out”?

And as for “deal with it”, are our lives some variation on Blackjack that we just need the right hand to show up?

It’s one of the questions I pondered when I made the “Self Help Me Over” online video product. People had come to me over the years in my counselling practice requesting exactly these things, and so I decided to record the consultation I would give people to help fulfill this request.

But I didn’t cover how to “work through” something.

Well I’ve just been sent some information that appeals to my sense of absurdity about the English Language.

If you have an emotion you need to “work through” then this is from NLPCo.com and it is for you…

The Tunnel Technique

1. Notice where in your body you feel the emotion. With your hands, remove it from yourself and put it front of you. Expand the image until it’s the size and shape of a doorway.

2. On the other side of the doorway is a tunnel of the emotion. In a moment, you will enter the tunnel and walk through it to find out what is on the other side. But there is a rule: once entering the tunnel you must keep walking.

3. Having agreed to keep moving your feet, step into the tunnel, close the door behind you, and feel the emotion surrounding you as you keep moving until you discover the exit on the other side. (This has never taken more than 30 seconds.)

4. Going through the emotion and out the other side typically moves a person into a very different place emotionally. Going through guilt can lead to freedom, going through rage can lead to compassion, but … sometimes it goes to other strong emotions which have been suppressed or masked. When that happens, go through that emotion as well until you’ve reached a place which feels healthy and whole.

You may consider doing this with someone around, even a counsellor, but for the 60-120 seconds the whole thing takes it’s worth giving this a go.

The morning after I read about this I was thinking about an emotion of disgust from my medical school days. I could handle dead bodies, but mucus and phlegm and spit was always a choking and gagging revulsion for me. I used The Tunnel Technique on it and now it’s unpleasant still (I do NOT want to drink a spittoon) but without the gagging or turning away.

One method of self-help is to be aware of your language, and do what it suggests literally.

With the appropriate techniques you can even turn “working through”, into “playing through”.

Golf anyone?

-Dr Martin Russell

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The ‘Fat Bomb’ Cometh

In the world Olympic event for obesity, apparently the US has been dethroned.

Turns out in the “Australia’s Future Fat Bomb” Report as splashed across The Age newspaper that Aussies have put in a gold medal winning performance. This report finds that 26% of Australians are obese (BMI >30 ie significantly overweight) just pipping the US at 25%.

And Aussies haven’t even got the same extent of Super-Super-Size me options yet.

Australia, we can do better!

Seriously, if we are to believe the “eat less, exercise more” mantra then this result is a fluke.

In terms of eating Australia seems to still be behind the US in oversized meals, take-away lifestyle, and the plethora of “diet” food alternatives to help us out.

And in exercise terms most of Australia has a much more favorable climate for participating in sport and getting out and being active than much of the US. Not much snow to keep most Australians stuck indoors for a winter.

I even understand that the levels of exercise activity and participation in sport in Australia have slightly increased over the past decade, so the trend is that Aussies should be getting thinner, shouldn’t they?

But no.

When 7 out of 10 middle-aged men, and 6 out of 10 middle aged women are overweight or worse (ie BMI >25) then epidemic is a reasonable word.

So what is really going on?

My suggestion is that the seemingly obvious idea of “eat less, exercise more” idea is actually deeply flawed.

The calories in, calories out model of human bodies is incorrect. We are not machines.

Just take the most obvious example – calories out with exercise.

How much weight do you lose by exercising?

What do gyms tell you? What do “health experts” make you believe? What are you hoping for when you start on an exercise program?

Forget theoretical calorie counting, what’s the reality?

Well fortunately this is an easy piece of scientific research, and the studies have been done many times and the collated results over many good quality studies show a consistent result…

You will lose, on average, 1 kilogram or about 2-3 pounds.

That’s all.

And that’s not per week or per month, that’s forever.

This comes from the most well-reputed body for summarizing medical research, and the studies are consistent all the way from 3 month programs out to a full year…
http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab003817.html

But there is a slight ray of hope.

If you increase to really vigorous exercise you can make it 1.5 kilograms or almost 4 pounds of weight loss. Yeah, go kill yourself for that extra pound!

Exercise is great for improving fitness, living longer, toning up and improving mood, but it’s yet another disappointment for most people in trying to lose weight.

Once gyms face up to this fact, they will stop having the reputation of churn and burn, and will start realistically informing people of what results to expect. The first gym that seriously does this will remove much of the “buyer’s remorse” in gym memberships, and also build a lasting trust with their clients. It’s a slower dollar, but more repeat business.

That’s just the “calories out” side of the equation.

I have been taking the last couple of months to do free public talks about the “Myths and Facts of Weight Loss”.

Exercise for weight loss is one of the most pervasive myths around, and yet it is one of the easiest to answer in the literature.

If you are current taking advice about your weight, does your health expert know these facts about exercise?

Most either overstate the weight loss you can expect, or they give vague and “it depends” answers. The results however are clear. The “exercise myth” is my test for whether someone is advising based on the research, or based on beliefs.

If you want to know what to do instead of exercise and “eating less”, then follow the 4 habits/rules from this book I reviewed.

If you are in Australia, I can send you a book direct rather than from Amazon in the US. Just email or phone me.

If you are even closer to home for me in Adelaide, and want to be notified of future public talks, events and more, then you can enter your details here…

http://www.drmartinrussell.com/adelaide/

Either way, you’ll be hearing more about this.

-Dr Martin Russell

Compensation Is Worse Overall

“There is sound evidence that people who are injured and seek compensation tend to have worse outcomes than people with the same injury who remain outside of compensation settings.”

This is front page of my local Worker’s Compensation Service newsletter (WorkCover SA Newslink Issue 11 – April 2008.)

They are right – except for the word “seek”.

Some people end up in a compensation system even if they don’t want to be there and don’t seek to be there. I know of no evidence that says they do any better in the system than those who “seek” compensation.

Something about the system itself is so flawed that it actually injures people or worsens injury or prevents the natural course of recovering from an injury.

This is tragic.

This title at the top of the article says, “Improving health outcomes in the compensation sector.”

In my state we are having an entire debate about how much we should be funding a compensation system and what it should be providing for injured workers.

With the statement at the start it seems like they would then go on to say that we should scrap the compensation system entirely, but no.

Later on in the article it says ignores the opening line and says…

“Early notification and connection with the compensation sector are essential for people with compensable injuries, as are appropriate treatment or diagnosis of the injury.”

With the best of intentions in the world, compensation schemes are somehow a flawed system.

I used to treat people under the local compensation system. I now no longer do. It wasn’t until I left the system that I recognized that the experiences I had in treating people and needing to cover a much wider range of issues than just the original injury, were not just about me.

The research literature says that there is something about being in a compensation scheme itself, that makes injuries take longer to recover and recover less completely in the end.

It doesn’t matter whether the system is for workers, or for motor vehicle accidents, nor whether it is a no-fault compensation or not, the results almost always come out worse.

That’s why I took the best of my advice and experience and put it into an “online consultation”.

If you, or someone you know, is considering or already involved in compensation then I have collated all my expertise and advice to help you manage the situation here:

http://www.SelfHelpCompensation.com

-Dr Martin Russell

Weight Loss Self Help

This entire blog is about self help. Weight loss is a key self help area where people often try, and about 80-95% of the time they fail.

But THEY don’t fail. In my opinion the METHODS they are using for weight loss are the failure. They don’t help for most people!

In typing this I am literally at a loss for words to express how vital this video’s message is below.

The entire western world needs to heed this weight loss call, from individuals, to health practitioners and to people in positions of wider influence. If you believe in self help then there is no more vital place to begin than by discovering what Paul McKenna is talking about.

In this promo video the important part is the specific 4 step approach to weight loss. See for yourself…

I reviewed McKenna’s book of this material on Amazon here.

-Dr Martin Russell

“I Can Make You Thin” by Paul McKenna – A Review

This is the first full book review I have ever done on this blog. I am delighted that it is a review for this book, because “I Can Make You Thin” makes an historic contribution to weight loss and being naturally thin, and also to the entire field of self-help.

“I Can Make You Thin” - Paul McKennaFor almost 2 years now I have been handing this “I Can Make You Thin” book and ‘mind-reprogramming’ CD to every patient who comes to me to lose weight, or who is caught up in the mentality of diets, scales, cravings, or overeating.

At the risk of making this book seem overly simple, here are Paul McKenna’s 4 golden rules…
1. When you are hungry, eat.
2. Eat what you want (not what you think you “should”.)
3. Eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful.
4. When you are full stop.

I’ve seen other reviews that dismiss the 4 rules as just obvious common sense. I’m not sure what common sense they really mean since the rules conflict with the majority of weight loss approaches around. Rule 2 in particular certainly disagrees with the ‘common sense’ that I was taught as a medical doctor.

Even if the rules are common sense, McKenna needs to be given great credit for showing people HOW to live these habits. Hopefully you are buying this for the results, not just to have a fun read and a relaxing, new-wavy listen.

Yes, the title of “I Can Make You Thin”, the pose McKenna has on the front, and the text on the back are bit over the top, but the inside is less so. The book is refreshingly thin :), jargon-free, and entertaining.

McKenna’s style also incorporates techniques such as tapping (TFT), hypnosis and NLP . Hypnosis is what first made Paul famous, and I’ve seen NLP Practitioners review this and say they knew all of these tricks before. In NLP terms Paul is saying that the Golden Rules are the “model” for being “naturally thin”. Just knowing all the techniques won’t help if you have the wrong model.

Importantly, you don’t need any of these techniques to apply the 4 golden rules and lose weight.

Most people can go the book & CD, discover the Aha moments, and get started on transforming their relationship with food and their weight straight away.

There might be a group of people that could eat according to the 4 rules and not be thin, but I agree with what Paul says. For myself, I’m yet to meet such a person.

I have counseled people who thought it didn’t work for them, but it turned out they hadn’t gotten the rules into their behavior, so here are some extra pointers…

  • Just listening to the CD over and over doesn’t seem to be enough. The book plays a big part too. Expect to re-read the book at least once. You can succeed without the CD, so if it doesn’t suit you, no sweat.
  • Don’t add more rules. Extra rules almost always conflict with the four golden rules. Must eat breakfast? No. Just eat when you are hungry. Have to eat only fresh food? Check you really want to eat it, and whether you might want to eat anything else a bit more. Etc, etc.
  • Having trouble visualizing? Just act ‘as if’ you are visualizing, or on the CD just leave it to Paul.
  • Don’t make exercise the focus. Improved fitness will improve your chances of living longer, but unfortunately the best research evidence is that exercise doesn’t help much in losing weight. Keep to the four rules, which are all about food and getting back in control.
  • If you have a question or a difficulty, the answer is somewhere in the book. The information truly is comprehensive (unlike watching YouTube videos or reading this review.) Indeed this updated version covered the two or three remaining gaps I had found before, including the extra chapter which covers self-sabotage.

In summary, McKenna is not the only person to propose this way of eating, but his is the most accessible version I know about. His is also the most likely to reach out from the page and permanently change your thinking and your behavior, and thereby your weight.

You can buy his measly book just to prove Paul wrong 🙂

——————————–

So that is my review of “I Can Make You Thin” by Paul McKenna.

Here’s what I would like you to do.

—> Do you think this review is helpful?

– Please go to the copy of this I have put up at Amazon, find the bottom of the review where it says “Was this review helpful to you?”, and click YES.

Rate this review on Amazon here.

—> Want to buy this book?

– It’s finally available on Amazon.com here!

– If you’re in Australia I have copies of this book for Aust$30 + $5 postage and handling (includes GST) or, as I mention in the review I supply them for free to people who come to see me.

You can phone my office on 08-8362 5500 for more details, or send $35 direct to PayPal@-you know the drill to take this bit out-DrMartinRussell.com with name, address and the name of the book.

Obesity, weight and food is an incredibly important self-help area. I cannot recommend Paul McKenna’s “I Can Make You Thin” strongly enough.

As with all self help, it’s now over to you.

-Dr Martin Russell

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