Cause and Effect Relationships
The Meta Model
One aim of therapeutic change work is to move the client towards a resourceful ‘at cause’ position over his life and away from an ‘at effect’ position.
For example, the client who says, ‘My father makes me angry’ is starting from a very different position from the person who says, ‘I get angry at my father.’
Many clients operate out of a belief structure that the solutions to their problems are extraneous and therefore not of their making. ‘The doctor says I have problems with my nerves. He gives me tablets.’
The <Cause> and <Effect> are linked by ‘Be cause’ although this may not always be verbalised. When speaking, the effect is often what is stated first, as in:
‘I can’t help myself, my mother didn’t love me.’
For example: <I can’t help myself> ‘BE CAUSE’ <my mother didn’t like me>
The Excuse Machine
‘I can’t help being so overweight, it is my metabolism.’
‘How can I do exercise when I feel so tired all the time?’
‘I didn’t ask to be so depressed, it just happened.’
‘I don’t know why it always goes wrong, I guess other people just don’t like me.’
‘I can’t help it, I have a ‘condition’.’
‘I have been this way for so long, it is far too late to teach a dog new tricks.’
‘How could anyone ever be happy after what happened to me?’
‘I am so unhappy because my father never bought me a pony when I was a child.’
‘My depression is because my inner child never got the attention it deserved.’
Cause and Effect statements reflect the person’s beliefs and model of the world. At the point of expression, the person is unlikely to view these statements as beliefs but will see them as irrefutable ‘fact’ and statements of the world.
Robert Dilts’ Model, ‘Sleight of Mouth Patterns‘ outlines strategies to challenge this aspect of the client’s meta-model.