Interview with Martyn Carruthers
© Roland Brantschen
It is difficult to describe the work of
Martyn Carruthers and his Soulwork.
Martyn's methodology can change emotions,
self-sabotage and relationship habits ... quickly.
It is the product of years of exploring and developing systems
Interview with Martyn Carruthers by
Online Life Coaching & Relationship Counseling
Roland: Martyn, you created a system of counseling that you teach
internationally - Soulwork Systemic Solutions. I know that your
training attracts many medical doctors, psychologists and people with
high academic credentials. Can you tell us about it?
Martyn: I and my colleagues offer a wide spectrum of services -
including business coaching, life coaching, relationship counseling,
team coaching ... and more. Can you be more specific?
Roland: What is the theoretical basis for your work?
Martyn: I integrated principles and practices from
many disciplines. The famous
anthropologist Dr Gregory Bateson provided a hierarchy of abstraction
which helps us analyze a person's cognitive habits. The psychologist
Dr Clare Graves provided a hierarchy of social evolution which predicts
the development of relationship skills and organizations.
Roger Bailey provided a model he called metaprograms, which are useful
for predicting behavior. I also integrated some of the deep philosophy
used by native Hawaiian healers,
who helped me recognize and change relationship bonds and emotional
with living and dead people, and they taught me some of the concepts
and healthy relationships that we often use in our work.
An authentic experience of integrity can
provide a reliable sense of life
direction, meaning and fulfillment.
Integrity is the Soul of Soulwork.
Roland: Do you use other models for relationship counseling?
Martyn: I use a hierarchy of relationship development
to predict the current and future relationship challenges that a person will
face, which was inspired by Annegret Hallanzy.
I created some tools to assess relationship health. Used
together, our systemic diagnosis
can quickly assess emotional conflicts and relationship transferences;
and sometimes predict diseases and deaths.
Roland: Are these psychological theories?
Martyn: Not really. Our work tends to be very practical.
We focus not on resolving complaints, but on helping people get what they
want, including meaning and purose ... we help people define and achieve
worthwhile goals. We help people find life purpose, or sense of life,
if that is what they want.
Roland: Can people coach themselves in this way -
or do they need a coach?
Martyn: Few people can use what they do not understand or
solve problems that they cannot recognize. We help people explore and
manage whatever stops them from solving their problems. Once those
issues are solved - a person can find information, make decisions and act.
While entanglements remain active -
people may continue making robotic decisions or may powerless.
Our work revolves around maturity. We can help people find relationship resources to
accept and acknowledge their complaints and to identify their goals
and dreams. Then people can solve their conflicts, their anger, fear,
sadness and so on, and move on in life. Without an effective coaching
relationship, many people attempting self-coaching will distract
themselves, or get stuck in "poor me".
When tackling inner conflicts they may just go to sleep.
We train people to respond to non-verbal communications
or unconscious objections. Few people can do this for themselves.
Unconscious signals are ... well ... not conscious. A coach can respond to
those communications by gently provoking people to become conscious of them.
Understanding their objections to their own happiness is a BIG step towards
helping people sort out their stuff.
Roland: That makes sense - so
- who benefits most from your work?
Martyn: Motivated, responsible adults gain the most
benefits in the shortest time. We can also help people who cannot
define goals using isomorphic stories and
interactive metaphors. We don't waste time repeating goal questions
or futile planning towards abstractions.
A deeper answer is that people who lack healthy relationships seem
unable to explore the depth of themselves. It seems that people
need supportive relationships as a basis for deep change. People who
cannot maintain at least one quality relationship, that is, stable and
meaningful but not dependent nor codependent, are unlikely to experience
a stable state of integrity.
Roland: Would you call your work a
New Age development?
Martyn: Some people complain that the word Soulwork sounds
too New Age.
Soulwork is practical. Each step of our coaching follows a structured,
systemic sequence, without recourse to intuition or esoteric agencies.
We check goals in three or four ways, to ensure that people want
specific changes and are prepared for the potential
consequences of those changes.
Some helping professionals prefer to intuit their
clients' problems, which can lead to dependency and abuse. Clients
have no idea if a New Age counselor's intuition is accurate - and
some counselors and therapists seem to blame their clients if their
intuitions do not produce the desired results.
Roland: Is not Soul an emotionally loaded word?
Martyn: Many people are not interested in anything to do
with soul, and I wasn't a few years ago. A better word may be
integrity. We also call our corporate and organizational work
Systemic Solutions and avoid words with esoteric or spiritual
connotations - although I find that exploring the Soul of an
organization is an extremely practical and worthwhile topic for
managers and CEOs.
We do not ask or require that a client have or develop
any particular belief. If a person wants success in some field, or wants
to change relationship habits or to control emotions such as depression,
anger or anxiety, that is often enough. We usually explore exactly
when, where and with whom a person wants
Roland: Your demonstrations tonight were stunning.
You make your work look very easy. But few of the audience have any idea
how long it normally takes for people to make those types of changes.
Martyn: Whenever I present Soulwork, I demonstrate what I talk about.
Some people ask if I choose easy demonstration subjects, but most
responsible adults are easy to coach with our methodology. For my personal pleasure,
I prefer to demonstrate with critics ... and there are always critics.
Success and happiness
require goals, decisions and relationships.
Roland: You said that your coaching is holistic ...
what does "holistic" mean to you?
Martyn: We attend to all a person's communications;
including non-verbally expressed emotions and relationships as well as
words, and we offer ways to change things that don't work or are
counter-productive. We explore relationships and feelings - and sometimes
diet and exercise. We offer ways to change internal dialogue (limiting
beliefs or self-sabotaging thoughts) and subsequent behaviors.
Roland: Is that always possible?
Martyn: Always is a very long word. If you are in a
relationship with an enmeshed person - whether the enmeshment is with another
person, a substance or a behavior, then you risk becoming entangled with that
person's obsessions. Many people say that they want to get rid of unpleasant
symptoms but that they don't want to change the relationships that require those
Instead they may turn to medication. We
often refer such people to doctors or psychologists.
Roland: How do you motivate people to change?
Martyn: I don't, or at least not often. I'm more likely
to provoke people about the consequences of their current actions or lack of
action. I find that a gram of provocation is worth a kilogram of motivation,
and I teach many types of provocation.
Roland: How do you identify mind-body connections?
Martyn: I ask
questions such as: Where do you hold emotional experiences in your
Unless a person is dissociated, the answers will describe subjective
experience and we can usually recognize the type of entanglement.
A large part of our training is about responding to nonverbal
communication. But often, onlookers ask if we are telepathic or
if we can see a people's souls or auras or something like that.
Roland: Where does Soul come into all this?
Martyn: We make basic assumptions about the innate wholeness of
people, and people's desire for wholeness and their desire to
connect with other human beings in an experience of wellbeing that
is often called connectedness or shared happiness. We help
people experience integrity as a basis for assessing,
evaluating and solving relationship problems.
Roland: What sort of problems do people bring you?
Martyn: People often want to manage emotions, to
end compulsions or obsessions, to learn better communication skills,
to change difficult relationships and to find meaning in life.
Most people have vague goals, but want something different.
Very often, people want to stop sabotaging themselves.
The biggest block to success is self-sabotage
Roland: And your systemic coaching includes ... what?
We help people clarify goals and manage
identity loss. This leads to
an experience of integrity and connectedness that we call
Soul. From an experience
of integrity, mature people can choose fulfilling life-goals and
finally end or control their self-sabotage.
Roland: Who are your main clients?
Martyn: I help a wide range of people; we
support private therapists and helping professionals in public
health and mental health sectors, as well as Human
Many people who seek change want to experience life
differently; they want to achieve their goals or end their complaints.
My systems coaching helps people reach their emotional goals as well as
physical goals. This may include helping people integrate their
personality. Most people seem to live fragmented lives based on
conflicting desires, conflicting beliefs and conflicting values.
Roland: Are you saying that most people - me for example - are split?
That sounds like multiple-personality ...
Martyn: In multiple personality,
people are amnesic of their actions and decisions in other
states - but few people are that dissociated. Most people
know well the experience of, "Part of me wants to ... but
part of me doesn't", and they know people who make promises in
one state and forget them in another.
People with complex conflict
may announce important decisions one day and deny those decisions
the next day. People who experience self-criticism often have
"inner voices" which can be horribly critical.
People who dissociate those inner voices may be diagnosed as
psychotic - and medicated.
Roland: What issues are people concerned about?
Martyn: The sources of inner conflict may change but
conflicts remain. Many women suffer grief
and conflict after postponing childbirth
and motherhood in favor of their careers. Many people suffer shame following
immature sexual exploits. Many people suffer from the emotional consequences
of abuse, trauma
and other relationship problems. Although the world is changing rapidly,
our emotional responses to our relationships seem to be rather constant.
We offer effective solutions for inner conflicts and cross-generational
entanglements. We help people end such suffering. I also deal with
the self-sabotage associated with abuse and the consequences of trauma
that show up as limiting beliefs. We help people
recognize and resolve many symptoms of stress and
overwork. We help idealists become more realistic.
Roland: Martyn - I have heard good things about your results -
but who coaches you?
Martyn: I enjoy exploring other modalities from a client
perspective - although not many therapists seem to enjoy me as a client.
I focus on results, not credentials, and I am not very compliant if
their theories don't make sense. My life is not a testing ground for their
theories. So I turn to my graduate students.
Roland: How do you determine what type of coaching is
helpful for what type of problem?
Martyn: Coaching, consulting, counseling,
advising and therapy are words that are often used interchangeably
- much seems to depend on who used the words first! In a consulting role, I work
in a focused way in a defined context, perhaps to change the structure of a
human resources department. On the other hand, individual and couple counseling
are exceedingly open. Who knows what the next client will want? Very few people
seem to know what they want.
How long does coaching take?
Roland: How long does your coaching take?
Martyn: How long is a road? I often work with time-limits
for people who want fast solutions rather than long-term mentoring. Much
depends on their motivation, health and age. For example I may offer a
person 5 or 6 sessions to change a defined complaint or to expedite a
specific goal. This can be in one week, if we both have the time and
the person is healthy enough to handle the intensity.
Lately, we are coaching by telephone and Skype more frequently.
These are great ways to reach out to people and we have learned to
pay close attention to vocal changes such as pitch and tempo.
Roland: You said that your work has a spiritual
side. How do you know whether a person is spiritual? How do you
perceive spiritual evolution?
Martyn: Life includes many distractions, games and
illusions - often self-inflicted or provided by ignorant, arrogant or
lost people. I believe that each of us can pass these distractions
to fulfill life and perhaps transcend death. Yet these distractions
can be so compelling or so uncomfortable that people may stop moving
forward. It's like they reach a certain age - could be six or sixteen -
and not mature much after that. We expect such people to show impulsive,
The Soul of Soulwork
is an experience of integrity and connection that seems to transcend
thoughts and feelings. The egoistic "I" can merge with an
apparently unborn and undying reality. Age-regressed behavior is
incompatible with this maturity and responsibility for life
- and the stable resource that we call Soul or integrity
can provide a reference - a compass - through life challenges.
We coach people to examine their goals, end self-sabotage,
change toxic habits and perceive illusions. We travel
together through the often chaotic landscapes of the body-mind
- to find lasting solutions for emotional and relationship symptoms,
and for life to make sense!
Roland: Martyn, thank you for your time.
Online Life Coaching & Training with Martyn Carruthers
(This page was condensed
from a longer interview transcript)