Practitioner in Psychological Medicine

Chung philosophy on helping and teaching
Effective Helping

The problem of the Life Coach model of helping is its relation to sports coaching. In this model, the helpee will need constant discipline applied from the coach - and perpetual pressure to perform. Once the coaching stops, the helpee goes back to their lazy ways and is ready to be put to pasture.

The problem with the therapy model is the suggestion that the helpee is to be "cured once and for all". This suggests that once cured, "all will be rosy" and life will be perpetually happy.

All pure forms of therapy have something missing as each clings to its theory of what goes wrong and how to fix it. Consequently, those afflicted, for example, by:

  • brain chemical imbalance
  • previous life drama
  • imbalanced lifestyle or
  • lack of purpose

might miss out in one way or another when a pure form of therapy is used.

The best "therapy" stands on "four legs". This therapy will incorporate a medical, a psychological, a lifestyle and a spiritual "leg" - each in turn. This approach would rectify any chemical flaw, correct any attitudes and beliefs that need correction, create a balanced life and seek to find purpose and identity to the helpee.


Any speaker can only reach their audience and deliver the message by knowing the audience. A true empathy with the audience can only be achieved by knowing their needs, concerns, pressures, belief system and entry level of knowledge.

The speaker must adjust the speed of message delivery, remain relevant and continuously bear in mind the audience’s motivations.

The goal of the commissioning organisation must be moulded to fit the interests, needs and expectations of the listeners. I demand good briefing by the organisation.

The messages most likely to be heard and remembered are those delivered with a good dose of feeling - whether involving humour or passion.

The speaker must know where the audience is coming from in order to know how and where to take them. I insist on a good background briefing about an audience. Good preparation - the foundation of a good presentation - is founded upon informed knowledge of the audience as much as the topic.

Beware the monotherapist

Should you encounter the “saviour” who offers to deliver you from all your woes, check that they are not an incarnation of Charles Manson, Jim Jones or Ron Hubbard. Your hero may be a charlatan or worse.

As Sheldon Kopp said in the title of his book (borrowing from an old koan by the Zen master, Linji)  “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him”, to which you could add these names as Buddha substitutes: Manson, Jones or Hubbard.

Ian Chung’s “Rolls Royce” of therapy needs four “wheels” to maintain its balance:

  • medical
  • psychological
  • life order and balance
  • existential

where existential comprises:

  • a sense of self/identity, or who we are
  • life trajectory, or a sense of direction
  • purpose, or a meaning (see here the writings of the Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl).

Even therapies based on a bio-psychosocial model have a “missing wheel”.