I’ve recently come across a phenomenon in alternative medicine known as the Apex effect, a term coined by Dr Roger Callahan, pioneer of the energy healing technique known as Thought Field Therapy.
"The apex problem, briefly, is when a client reports a dramatic improvement as the therapy is administered but then fails to give credit to the therapy. The therapy simply appears to be too absurd to be able to effect such dramatic changes. Some clients forget, after successful treatment, that they ever had a problem."
This seems an interesting parallel to me in our world. How often have you sat down and worked with someone for hours, days even and then they’ve rationalised it away; “Oh our new system solved that,” “I’ve sorted that problem out myself now,” “What problem?” In many ways this is exactly what we’re striving for – people to be able to help themselves and not become dependent.
In some ways it’s a very mature approach and if people don’t recognise the hard work and skill we’ve put into solving a problem does it matter? One altruistic answer would be; “of course not.”
The other answer would be “of course it matters.” This can be down to a number of factors:
1. Being a human as well as a trainer I like to be appreciated when I achieve something – it makes me feel good.
2. As a business person how will this help me if people go away saying they’ve learnt nothing.
3. If they go away and they acknowledge they’ve learnt something they will tell others and I can help even more people.
So, what should we do? Should we tell them in advance that this ‘apex effect’ is a possible outcome? That would be an option, but it sounds a little manipulative to me and may set up some kind of a reactant and they could fight your intervention.
Another suggestion would be to not merely take the problem away, but to replace it with something. In the case of healing this might be replacing pain with a ‘good feeling’. What could we replace a problem with? I guess we do it already don’t we – an action plan.
At the end of each course it seems inevitable that there’s some form of action plan, development log or piece of paper that the participant has to take away to prove they’ve done something, and will continue to do something. How many people carry on with their action plans after a course? Not many I would guess.
How many people get something out of the course? My guess is a great many. Is this action plan our way of saying, “Look I hope you’ve got something from the course and here’s a reminder. We don’t expect you to fill it in, but it has my name on it so if you’ve resolved any problems I’m the one to thank.”
Is this too harsh? I know there’s a lot to be said for action plans as long as they’re relevant, etc, etc, But isn’t there some of this in it?