Framing Relations

Relational Frame Theory

RFT is the underpinning basis of the third wave of therapies in human cognition today. However it is an area a lot of people struggle getting to grips with. RFT gives a framework around how linguistics and cognition lead to the human mind finding elements of life concerning. There is a separation of cognition from other animals in our world that has been demonstrated by research into RFT. ref

Just a Theory

While the title Relational Frame Theory has the word theory in it there is a large body of evidence to this framework across a myriad of areas.

Theory is a word used with both evolution and gravity and while we still hear of people who believe that one of these is "just a theory", even with the huge body of evidence, it would be interesting to see people live without gravity and provide evidence that gravity is "just a theory".

Although RFT is a theory so are evolution and gravity, so personally I have no issues with the word Theory - do not let the name put you off. Science is about asking questions.

One bit of RFT

RFT highlights that the human animal has developed an ability to derive numerous bits of information from a small number of pieces of information.

A baby can learn 2 pieces of information, then, from the age of 14-16 months the toddler will have added to the same pieces of information by deriving the mirroring of that original information.

At 22-24 months the child will fill in enough of the missing information to access six pieces of information from the original two. This is hard to get your head around so I have taken this example from another source, the fantastic Get Out of Your Mind and into Your Life

Showing the baby a drawing of an imaginary creature the adult says,

  • "This is called a bo ba" - one piece of information
  • "A bo-ba goes Woooowa" - piece 2 of the puzzle
  • "Where is the bo-ba?" - the ability to point to the picture when asked the name is piece 3 of the informational triangle.

This is derived and does not need to actually be directly taught.

  • saying "bo-ba" in response to being asked "what goes Woooowa?" piece 4
  • point at the picture in response to being asked "what goes Woooowa?" piece 5
  • make a "Woooowa" response when asked what noise the animal in the picture makes is piece 6

These last 2 are the next level of derivation - the child has not been taught those connections directly at all.

We can think of the noise, picture and name as 3 points on a triangle with the links between them being the connections in both directions. This makes 6 pieces of information.

This interconnected network can lead to errors. This can lead to emotions being experienced when they are not relevant or necessary.

An example erR0rS

Have you ever got up in the morning and thought you felt out of sorts, like you have "got out of the wrong side of the bed".

This example may be due to a lowering emotion as you heard a distant siren when you were waking or getting ready for work. In your past you attended a car accident where someone you did not previously know had died. You had a low that day as more sirens arrived. Even though you do not consciously relate the siren to that event or even acknowledge in your mind that there even was a distant siren today you still can experience an "unexplained" low feeling.

This is a more elaborate idea of a network however it is an extension of the triangle of information the child was working with in the early example.

Sorry to just scratch the surface - more on RFT to come...


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