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Tenets for Practice that Put the Client at the Center


I just finished a two-day training in Minnesota. Participants kept coming up to me and saying how much they appreciated my approach. What is that approach? How might it be different than other methods? What does it mean to be client-centered? What is the humanistic approach? Would mindfulness practitioners call this approach mindfulness? I tried to get clearer on what people are experiencing because all I experience is me.

I do have some tenets that I hold on to:

  • Don’t try to be smarter than God or Evolution. I embrace the fact that I understand very little of what’s happening for individual. However, I can set up experiments to test for what might be true.

  • Trust people to tell you close enough to the truth. Again, I don’t have to know everything. I just have to know what they are willing to try and what they won’t.

  • Encourage being inconsistently consistent. Perfection is always a prison. How I have seen people change is to try, stop, make new intension, try again, don’t make it, succeed for a little while, stop, try again, miss, change it up, learn, try, fail, pout, feel anxious, try again, and so it continues. What I have learned most from martial arts is to get up after every fall.

  • Willpower resides in our responsive brain. If we are not fed, we are reactive and can’t be responsive. Our anxiety, irritation, and agitation will escalate until we fuel our bodies.

  • Human physiology is common to all humans. The details of our choices arise from our past experiences, our current circumstances, and what our holds us back. But the physiology happens for everybody’s body.

  • Be curious about how the underlying physiology drives behavior. If someone is living in the complex world of homelessness, they might need to drink soda all day long to feed their pre-frontal cortex so that they can be responsive instead of reactive. Change comes from being responsive to one’s situation. Drinking soda all day is not a sustainable long-term behavior, but it may be what’s needed to get a toe hold on a new path.

  • Most of us cannot DO a food program. We make moment to moment decisions about how and what to feed ourselves based on what’s available. Having have some basic knowledge about what will be useful in-the-moment can be empowering and help us gain some understanding of what our possibilities are.

  • My job is to witness and to constructively add to people’s lives. Telling people to stop a behavior or to change is akin to suggesting a massive mountain climb. Teaching the skills needed for change and doing experiments along the way so people can begin to feel better in a single moment provides a more sustainable pathway for change.


Most of these tenants are not unique to learning and healing. I think the connection to how physiology impacts and drives our behavior is important and sometimes lost to the drama of life.

The workbook that Natasha and I are writing describes how the physiology of glucose control can impact how we experience all forms of anxiety. I have witnessed that attending to the physiology helps not only anxiety, but other conditions as well: PTDS, OCD, night terrors, 3 am waking, fatigue, depression, ADHD, and others. It also supports effective decision making, creativity, and sustaining energy levels throughout each day.

If you have been using food to help yourself or the people you connect to feel better, we would love to hear how addressing glucose control has positively impacted different behavioral symptoms. How has understanding the ways in which protein and carbohydrates influence behaviors been helpful? Please take this 1-minute survey.