Institute for the Study of Peak States
"Methods for Fundamental Change in the Human Psyche"
Support Newsletter #6, August 26, 2006

"On Certification"

Newsletter Spotlight
From the Editor Paula Courteau…
Upcoming Teleclasses
Certification issues
            Why certify, anyway?
            Shelly's views about training
            Provisional certification
            Why have the requirements  changed so much?
            Grant replies
            First aid classes
            The Carrot: Benefits after certification
Code of ethics

From the Editor Paula Courteau...
Hi Everyone,
            Late summer, days already getting shorter... Harvest time. As I promised in the last newsletter, this one is a collection of bits and pieces about our certification process. A few of you have experienced frustration: you're ready to go and it's not necessarily obvious how to do it...  Please keep in mind that you are the first large group of students who are qualified and motivated to become Peak State therapists, and that we're really making this up as we go. In the articles below, I tried to include an insider's view of the long, drawn-out process of deciding what we should teach, why we should teach it, and how we should teach it.
            The team who have been working at this latest version of our certification guidelines are: Grant McFetridge, of course; Shelly Pinnell, who has offered us the perspective of one well-versed in the art of using alternative therapies legally in a country that frowns on them; Nemi Nath, who has had invaluable experience in teaching Breathwork to a certification standard; Tal Laks, who helped develop many of the processes we now teach; Monti Scribner, our student outreach person, who also has a long background in teaching; and John Heinegg and myself from the research and teaching sides, respectively. We also consulted just about every long term member in the process, and quite a few of the newer students have had input.
            We've put the time off from teleclasses to good use, too, with 4 advanced healers now participating in research and cleaning up their skills (Tal, Evertt, John H., and Jerry Pegden, a long-time Institute member who finally has the time to devote to this full-time, intensive training.)
            Teleclasses will resume on the second Saturday in September, with an exciting new line-up of topics. See the tentative calendar below. Nemi and Tal are also giving a short workshop in Poland, to help people get through their good/evil issues in preparation for certification. It will already be underway by the time you read this. Nemi will then be available to teach and certify people in Australia.
Shelly Pinnell is currently training to certify people in the US. She wrote a letter to introduce herself in that capacity; it outlines her views on certification and is reproduced in its entirety below. Shelly is also planning to start a Basic WHH training group in Columbus, Ohio in the fall. Interested people can call her at 614-985-4694 for further details.
     There's one thing that's not on the list of steps to certification, and yet it's the most important of all: experience. Simple, good ol' dirt time. What makes a good healer? Above all, experience. So while you wait for that elusive brain scan and that yet-to-be-announced class, while you wait for us to get our act together, practice, practice, practice. Heal yourself, work with your classmates; keep a journal of your healing practice; find ways to verify that your issues are indeed healing permanently; think how you'd guide a client through the problem you're facing today. You are, right now, undergoing the most important part of your certification.
            Until next time…Paula

Upcoming Teleclasses

            Teleclasses will resume Friday September 9 (Sunday the 10th in Australia).
            We will start with a series of classes on good and evil! It's a bit of a stretch to do this in a teleclass, but we'll give it a try. Here's how it will work: starting in the first days of September, you'll be able to request a brain scan (free of charge) from one of the advanced healers. (They're working several hours a day to bring their skills up to snuff so they can be accurate with everyone. This is much easier said than done.) The people with severe problems will be advised to get individual help. Those with the garden-variety problems will be invited to the teleclass. We will do the process with a maximum of 5 or 6 people at a time, with 2 healers in attendance. We're experimenting with a new process which includes Gaia commands and music, and which may speed things up as well.
            We estimate that each group will need 2 weeks of classes to get through. With 2 or 3 groups, this takes us to October 7 or October 21.
            Next on the agenda: we've decided that, since we're all getting more experienced, the students as well as the teachers, we would try running the generic fixes for vortices and copies after the Choosing Good process. We also would like to have Alexandre Nadeau run one or two classes on his peak state processes (from an NLP approach). 
            We've also received a few requests from people who missed some of the Spring teleclasses. If you're interested in attending a rerun of any of the processes we taught in the last few months, please let Monti know. We will rerun classes if there's sufficient demand for them.

Certification issues
            Why certify, anyway?
We asked that question at our latest telephone meeting. Why bother with all this? It's complicated, time-consuming, and it just keeps us and our students from doing what we all want -- just getting on with being researchers or healers. So we polled the people present, and it boils down to this for all of us:
            We choose to put people through the certification process, chiefly, because we don't want them to harm themselves, each other, or their clients, and secondly so the Institute doesn't lose its marketable assets.
            Nemi puts it somewhat less bluntly at the beginning of a document-in-progress that synopsizes the requirements for Basic certification:  "ISPS certifies therapists and trainers to ensure competency and consistency, quality of work, legitimacy and reputation, the updating of processes and of manuals and the establishment of a support network of highly skilled practitioners."
            She adds: "Certification is only recommended for people who intend to work with clients. To maximize client safety, we have a number of prerequisites that are taken from standard therapy continuing education curricula. Thus, for the most part, therapists will already have had the appropriate training. Certification by us is not guaranteed by taking classes - instead, the student has to demonstrate an understanding of technique and ability to apply it on real people. Our certification is not a substitute for licensing in the geographical area where you work - you need to know the legal requirements in your area."
            (John Heinegg clarified this last point well during our meeting. Our certification simply says: "You have met the Institute's criteria."  After this, each practitioner has to go to his government and ask them what he needs to practice in his country. This will very greatly from countries like Poland where the field is completely unregulated,.to others like Australia where alternative therapies are well accepted, to yet others like Germany and the U.S. where a backlash is in progress.)

            Shelly's views about training
"After years of searching, I was fortunate in being introduced to Grant McFetridge's Peak States of Consciousness, theory and approach to healing trauma. There is no other work of this nature. Many of you have also had the wisdom to see the astounding potential for this work. You can also see what is needed for the human species to continue to evolve and enjoy life on this planet.  ISPS has been set up as a legal organization to shepherd this information to the world so that society can use and accept it, so we can assist in humankind's evolution. To do that, we need to follow the laws, maintain professional ethics and standards of practice, develop protocols and conduct research that is consistent with societal norms. We are living in a time when the spiritual, scientific, allopathic, and alternative healing are forging new ground in many areas. ISPS is part of this larger change as we help to form bridges between the fields, while also finding our own place.
            “We at ISPS believe it is important to transfer the Peak States of conscious synopsized information out to both the lay and professional communities as efficiently and responsibly as possible to help people heal and to teach other helpers. It is important to understand that we are in the beginning stages of development and that it will take several years to get all of the necessary structures in place. After that, there will be on-going changes as well, as we evaluate the outcomes of what we have put in place and make adjustments, as in any organization or business. Those of you slogging through these initial stages with us will be able to say, "I was part of ISPS when..." (I was involved fairly early in the development of EMDR training and it was probably 6 years into the training before the EMDR Association even developed a "certification".)
            Unlike many other healing modalities, we have made the decision to include lay people as well as professionals in the early levels of training. However, in order to receive certification to work with other people, we are setting the bar at the minimum level we feel is necessary to address the areas of greatest risk. This means risk to ISPS and to *you* as a practitioner as well as to the client. Two primary areas of risk we want Peak States practitioners to be able to address are: 1. Recognition of and response to crisis, particularly suicidality/homicidality; and 2. Knowledge of the general range of mental illnesses and who and how to screen for referral to licensed providers.  *People who have serious mental illnesses are not candidates for general Peak States therapy at its current level of development.* There are other important areas of knowledge, but some of them can be addressed in the course of the training itself.
            “When we follow standard accepted practices, and have awareness of where our responsibility starts and stops, we can be relieved of on-going fear about all the things that could go wrong. We can then move confidently into helping people in the areas this work is designed to address. I greatly look forward to working with those of you in the United States who are ready to come on board! Next newsletter, I've been promised some space to share several case studies from my practice that show the power of Peak States therapy. "
            Shelly Pinnell

            Provisional certification
I can hear the groans already... No, this isn't really another delay... It's more like the advanced first aid classes I took, where I had to commit to work within reach of a mentor for the first year. Each newly-certified healer, in addition to the regular support, will be assigned a mentor for the first year, with whom he or she will confer about client care about once a month, or more often as needed. Since most of you will only have worked on yourselves and fellow students right until certification time, this will allow you to ease into your therapist's responsibilities with maximum support.

            Why have the requirements changed so much?
This is probably the sorest point with students. Besides the old problems that are common to all regression therapies (the risk of triggering suicidal material or counter-commitments to healing that end up worsening the client's symptoms), we now have some much more powerful techniques to contend with. This is exciting because the limitations of what we can heal shrink, almost daily; but these techniques, which we're so keen on teaching as soon as possible, also turn out to carry their own intrinsic risks. And our workshops, these fertile grounds for experimentation, are where we find out about most of those risks. Hence the safety warnings that pop up and multiply like bad weeds. And the more powerful the technique or peak state, the more we're likely to have to restrict its use.
            Here are some excerpts (reviewed and augmented by Grant) from an email exchange between Grant McFetridge and one of our very motivated and hard-working Australian students, who participated in the first workshop Down Under. The student wrote:


            "...I am getting increasingly frustrated with what I see as changes that have been made since we did our Australian Peak States training. The training was advertised as Practitioner training and very clearly included being able to do this work with clients.
            “Those that have not maintained close contact with ISPS since the training are potentially operating under the guidance given during the training. Whilst the rest of us, or some of us at least, have stopped all peak states work with clients pending certification. There was no such limitation expressed either upfront when we signed up for the training nor during the training.
            “I find this very frustrating, very limiting and it is preventing me from getting experience, confidence and familiarity in working with these techniques on clients. What has brought it to a head is having a new client who would probably be greatly assisted by the use of  Silent Mind process, and I can only tell him about it.
            “I think it was a huge stretch for you put it on us, well after the course, that the agreements we signed precluded doing any peak states work with clients other than the Inner Peace process in Peak States Volume 1. That was clearly not the understanding I had when I signed, nor at the end of the course, and I took that signing seriously. That included checking that the volume of the Peak States Therapist Manual that I received during my training was available for the general public to read!
            “I now see the published list of requirements for Basic Certification continuing to grow and now a clear statement about not using the techniques on clients unless certified to do so as part of the training agreements. With Nemi going to be away until the end of August, and away from email, I assume it will be some time before the whole certification process is in place. Then there is meeting the requirements.        
            "Thoughts? Clarification? Interim compromise?"

            Grant replies:
I'm sorry you're feeling frustrated. You've got to realize that this is a new field - it has only been around for a few years. Thus, as I've become more aware of the problems, I've had to change the material. Australia was a real wake-up call - people started doing things that were obviously dangerous, completely ignoring everything we'd said during the workshops out of some kind of belief that what I said wasn't true, or didn't apply to them. In the past, the only people using this stuff with clients were actually licensed therapists, which is a pretty different situation.
            As in the case of the certification, it reduces the chances of you, personally, harming people (or killing them), and keeps you out of jail or keeps you from losing your home, etc., from the lawsuits. And keeps me from being involved in lawsuits and legal proceedings.
            Those changes aside, the guidance given at the training is that this stuff can kill people. Remember the first day, when I talked about it in class, and about how my beloved partner had committed suicide? That hasn't changed. Look at the agreement you signed, #6 says "On techniques not yet released to the public, I agree to not teach them to others in consideration for their safety." You can use WHH on clients - it is a public domain technique - although I think people unwisely take their chances if they don't have the required licensing and training. Or how about #4 - "I will use the techniques under the supervision of a qualified therapist or physician as legally appropriate." Thus, you could work with clients while under legal supervision, which is how therapists are trained in the first place - and their training takes years of non-stop effort and class-work.
            I've only taught a few workshops with the range of topics you covered - your training was only the fourth or fifth, if I remember correctly. What I'm finding is that I've had virtually all kinds of people show up at those workshops - and many shouldn't be allowed near clients. How do I separate them from the others? By requiring some measure of safety and legal constraints. Thus, legally certified therapists wouldn't find the requirements onerous - they already have almost all of them for the same reason that I have - therapy can harm or kill people, especially fragile people. And therapy schools (and the legal establishment) know this.
            Most people doing healing work are doing so illegally, and don't realize the danger they're putting people in. As far as certification goes, it isn't designed to slow you down - it's just designed to make sure you know what you need to be safe and to keep your clients safe.
            In the original drafts of Volume 2 I had actually put in all of our peak states processes. However, I had forgotten what it was like to not have had decades of experience with severe prenatal trauma and thousands of clients. My Institute colleagues had been mostly MDs and PhDs. My reviewers thought I was crazy because they realized that the processes were way too experimental and in many cases too overwhelming to be considered safe for the general public. Then, for a while I had intended to make the much more limited therapist Basic PeakStates manual available to the public once the contents had stabilized. At about the fiftieth or so student, however, it started to become painfully obvious to me that this was a really, really bad idea. Many of the trainees had never even heard about the concept of trauma, and in some cases refused to believe that it could exist! Let alone understand why suicide is a potential problem for powerful therapies. Thus, this is why the Basic PeakStates manual is now restricted to only our trainees.
            OK, so now let's turn to why you should be angry if we *didn't have a certification process! The ISPS has already given you unique tools for your work in the marketplace (not to mention the specializations), with no sign of slowing. As we become more well-known, this means that your clients will recognize your qualifications. If a bunch of uncertified 'yahoos' harm or do nothing for their clients, the public perception would almost certainly be that the work is ineffective or dangerous, and you could kiss your training good-bye. Having certified colleagues means that your (and our) reputation will stay intact. Better than that, the Institute is pioneering a new way to deliver psychological (and physical) healthcare - guaranteed (pre-agreed) performance. That alone should make clients want to come to you over other traditional or alternative therapists! You and I don't want this huge advantage to become lost because uncertified, fellow students sabotaged it for everyone. Plus, certification allows you access to material that is just too dangerous to give out to the typical workshop participant who doesn't have your (new) qualifications. Cool, eh? And even better, in the future, it will doubtless be tougher to get certified by us, as our classes increase and lengthen, so students in the future will think you were a real slacker! :)
            Don't worry - at the rate you are going, it won't be long till you can do the silent mind state on people - I'm excited that you're pursuing the suicide training - Nemi already told me about it!
            All my best,

            First aid classes
We finally labeled these as "desirable, but not required". First aid certification isn't a part of the requirements for the usual therapist certification in most countries, Australia being the exception. However, many therapists choose to learn first aid on their own time. Knowledge of first aid can be very practical when it comes to this type of scenario:
            Your client is 69 years old. He's working on a birth piece. He reports pressure on his chest, difficulty breathing, a sense of not enough oxygen. Is he in the normal course of a birth regression, or is he having a heart attack? Is your correct answer, "keep breathing, you're doing fine" or "OK, take a nice deep breath and come back to the present while I call the ambulance"?
            Your client has diabetes. She's also working on a birth piece. She's getting very drowsy. Do you suspect the drugs given to her mom in the past, hypoglycemia in the present, or both? What's the safest course of action?
            Here is, from memory, the gist of our discussion about whether to include first aid as a requirement for certification. It'll give you an idea of the several takes on the problem (and let you realize what a dreamer I am...) and perhaps guide you in your own course of action.
            Paula: My idea was to have some therapists who could deal with [the above scenarios].
            Someone else: Well, I took standard first aid and I still don't know the answers to these questions...
            Paula: Yeah, I guess it took me a few years of experience as an ambulance attendant; I also took several advanced first aid classes... I wonder if you could get specific answers if you approached your basic first aid training with those questions in mind? Tell the instructor you see some therapy patients and you want to be able to tell if they're just emoting or having a heart attack? You'd need a trainer with some actual clinical experience and an open mind...
            Grant: One problem is that you take that training, and unless you use it all the time, you just forget.
            Someone else: Over here [in the US], they just want you to call the ambulance regardless. They don't want you making those decisions.
            Nemi: Here, [in Australia] the only reason they have therapists take first aid is they want you to be able to do CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if your patient does collapse in the office. That's the only reason.

            The Carrot: Benefits after certification
            After you do jump all the hoops and achieve certification, you will be entitled to several benefits. Besides the focused mentorship the first year, you will have a permanent backup system at your disposal: a support network of mentors, research people and colleagues. You will also get regular updates on the new developments (indeed, your continued status will depend on keeping abreast of these); you will be listed as an accredited therapist on the website; and, best of all, you will receive the Gaia music for the processes that go with your level of training. Subject to the standard agreements (non-dissemination, maintenance of certification, etc.), you will be allowed to use the recordings on yourself and on your clients.

Code of ethics
On another topic: Grant and Nemi attended the Breathworkers' Conference in Nelson, BC, Canada, last month. There, Grant met Jim Morningstar. Jim and his colleagues at the International Breathwork Training Alliance had developed, over several years of work, a code of ethics for Breathwork therapists. Jim had the great generosity to allow us to adapt these guidelines for our own Institute.
            This is a very straightforward but beautiful and extremely well thought-out document. We expect each of our therapists to abide by it and strive to embody the qualities it describes. You can see it on our website, at To see Jim's original text, go to

Copyright 2006 by Grant McFetridge

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