Chris John – GP view of Adaptation Practice

As a GP I worked closely with Clive Sherlock as a colleague and have seen the benefits of Adaptation Practice both in patients that I referred and with a group of colleagues who volunteered to take part in a trial of Adaptation Practice for dealing with stress, anxiety and depression.

The study with doctors was over 6 months and progress was compared with a control group. Both groups were recruited from a survey of 380 GPs in S. Wales. The doctors were asked to complete standardised measures of stress, anxiety and depression ( HAD, BDI, Maslach Burnout Inventory). A group of doctors was identified with scores in the clinical range for depression and anxiety ( HAD scores greater than 8 ).

Fortnightly sessions of AP were run over 6months led by Clive Sherlock and facilitated by myself. There were marked improvements in scores in the group of doctors attending as compared with the control group.

To try to capture the essence of Adaptation is difficult but is it very analogous to learning any skill or sporting activity. Incrementally we learn how to approach the emotions, which we normally prefer to deny, avoid or express in unrestrained outbursts.

It is like learning to ride a horse or ride a motorbike or run a marathon. With patience and taking a step at a time we can achieve great change.

As mammals we are fully equipped to survive and have done for millennia but in recent times we have chosen to try to avoid discomfort and as a result have become emotionally unfit. Just look around, there are myriad distracters and panaceas but can we really just sit with ourselves quietly and be patient or can we get up and say yes to doing the washing up when I prefer to keep ruminating about what the boss said to me that day.

It is possible to overcome very painful emotional and psychological problems with AP. I have seen profound changes occur and patients restore their wellbeing and capacity for living to the full.

This is from the German poet Rainer Rilke, in Letters To A Young Poet:

To be patient with Sadness – the quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and unerringly a new revelation can enter us, and the more we can make it our own. Later on when it ” happens ” – when it manifests in our response to another person – we feel it as belonging to our innermost being”