Here are some answers to a few frequently-asked questions about Transformational Inquiry with The Work of Byron Katie.
Q: Isn't The Work a form of psychotherapy? It seems similar to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
A: Therapy by definition involves the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders by trained, licensed personnel. The Work is not about changing, treating or curing anything and it does not replace psychotherapy, nor is there an assumption that clients are "ill" or not. That said, The Work provides a clean and simple way to approach "thinking disorders," or attachments to self-limiting beliefs that are not true or useful to the client. A facilitator asks questions, and the client answers them if she is willing. As a facilitator, I guide clients through the process of questioning what they believe. As an educator and workshop leader, I design and introduce exercises and disseminate information. I don't diagnose or treat anyone or anything because I am not a therapist.
The Work is a cognitive process because we are working with cognition (thinking). Unlike CBT, there is no concept of pathology and therefore there is nothing to treat or cure. However, inquiring into one's stressful beliefs is a useful component of the therapeutic process...which is why many mental health professionals incorporate The Work into their work with patients. Inquiry is quite compatible with most talk therapies and its results are consistent with cutting-edge research on the brain, the mind and its mechanisms. The Work has been used in Mind-Body Medicine programs at Stanford University Medical Center and Kaiser-Permanente in California in conjunction with mindfulness meditation to help patients suffering from anxiety, depression, stress, infertility and chronic pain. In addition, the student health center at the University of Washington offers The Work of Byron Katie to students as a stress-reduction technique. The Work has also been offered as part of training for psychotherapists at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, one of the country's leading institutions offering degrees in transpersonal psychology. Renowned ADD and brain scientist Dr. Daniel Amen, founder of Amen Clinics, recommends The Work and offers Katie's books at his website, amenclinics.com.
Q: What makes someone qualified to facilitate The Work? Do you have a certification?
A: Facilitators who have been certified (2007) by the Institute for The Work are the only facilitators recognized by Byron Katie International to provide the pure experience of this inquiry process. Certified Facilitators have fulfilled 100 days of requirements (over 400 hours), have been approved personally by Katie, and are bound by a code of Facilitator Ethics. Certified Facilitators must also keep their certification current each year. I was a member of the first group of 17 facilitators worldwide to receive the ITW Certified Facilitator credential in the spring of 2007.
Since The Work itself is is easily learned and available to anyone at no cost, there are people teaching and using The Work who have never attended the School for The Work and are not Certified Facilitators. They may be fine facilitators, but there is no oversight. So,"know your facilitator."
Q: Isn't The Work a very emotional experience? What if someone "loses it" during a session?
A: In my workshops and in private sessions, people often experience sadness, grief, anger, ecstasy, laughter, tears, irritation, anger, boredom, etc. It's natural to feel and express emotions in the process of self-inquiry, just as we experience them in our daily lives when our issues bubble up. In life, when we "lose it," we either "find it" or we call 9-1-1. In The Work, it's the same.
Q: So then, is The Work a form of coaching?
A: The Work is not coaching in and of itself, and it is an invaluable tool for coaches. I love to teach coaches how to use inquiry with their clients because it can make their jobs a lot easier. I have been a coaching client myself, and my coach, Melanie Keveles, frequently includes The Work in our sessions.
Here's a distinction: in coaching, there is a desired outcome for the client, because the client has come to the coach with an intention or a goal. In The Work, the only intention is for the client to meet stressful thoughts with understanding through self-inquiry. By showing up, the client has expressed a desire to know the truth; the facilitator asks questions to assist that process. If I have an agenda for my client to "get" something, it may interfere with his own process of self-discovery and in fact limit it.
Through self-inquiry, the mind calls its own bluff. When the coaching client's self-limiting beliefs are examined in the light of the questions, the beliefs often dissolve, enabling the coach to better help the client solidify their intentions and formulate action plans.
Q: Will The Work interfere with other transformative healing work that I am doing, or with religious practices...for example, 12-step programs, meditation, worship, other self-help modalities?
A: Some of my friends and clients involved in The Work have included devout Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Jews, Buddhist teachers, a Catholic priest, numerous interfaith ministers and the former head monk of a Hare Krishna temple...not to mention atheists and agnostics, activists and pacifists, Republicans and Democrats, self-help teachers and healers of all stripes. Many of the people I have met at Katie's schools practice The Work concurrently with Sedona Method, The Journey, A Course in Miracles, and various forms of yoga and meditation. Friends in recovery tell me that The Work dovetails beautifully with the 12 steps; it is, after all, the epitome of a "fearless moral inventory."
Some fear that they will have to give up whatever else they're doing if they question their beliefs. Can you absolutely know that this is true? Jews have been questioning their own scriptures since the origins of Judaism! The aforementioned Hare Krishna friend never questioned his belief in Krishna; if a belief is not stressful, there is no need to question it. Rather, when he discovered The Work he saw it as a message and a gift from Krishna.
You needn't ever let go of your religion, your practices, your sacred beliefs; I haven't. The suggestion is to continue to do everything that serves you and brings you joy...and question what doesn't. If you love meditation, ritual, prayer, going to meetings, and you love The Work too, good!