Dale A. Hicks, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist Certified CEO Effectiveness Executive Coach
This week, Lisa Shasteen shared a brief glimpse of narrative from Bill Anton’s recently released book, Ascend: Forging a Path to Your Truer Self (2015). As I’ve mentioned previously, this book represents a breakthrough approach within the self-help genre and in the overall process of facilitating psychological change. I believe it will have a broad appeal and applicability across a wide range of readers. Ascend demonstrates in a simple, understandable and enjoyable manner how mental models develop, how they retain power over our lives, how readers can identify their own self-limiting mental models and ways in which they can begin challenging and changing these models to gain greater self-mastery and to begin to access their truer selves.
Written as a delightful and intriguing allegory, throughout the book Dr. Anton creates a compelling narrative. It then abstracts the psychological principles that apply to those situations and offers alternative perspectives to identify and address the applicable mental models and obstacles that often serve to keep us “stuck” in self-defeating patterns of beliefs and behaviors. While Ascend can be a helpful and effective “stand-alone” guide to self-change, it can also serve as a powerful complement to the process of psychotherapy, counseling, or executive and life coaching for anyone seeking transformative and lasting change.
As a stand-alone guide to self-growth, high school guidance counselors, university and college counseling center personnel and parents would provide a valuable service by recommending Ascend to their teenagers and young adults who are negotiating the transition from adolescence to adulthood, helping them to better understand their childhood mental models and their discomfort examining and challenging the obstacles that they must confront in order to move more successfully into the next phases of their lives. In fact, Ascend serves as an extraordinarily helpful guide for anyone seeking to expand their self-knowledge and to apply it to all areas of their lives.
Ascend offers clients a more thorough understanding of the psychotherapy and counseling process, which research has demonstrated produces a positive impact on therapeutic outcomes. As such, by recommending Ascend early in treatment, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors and social workers, as well as employee assistance, community mental health, drug rehabilitation and crisis center program staff, could improve the cost-benefit of their professional efforts and expedite and enhance the effectiveness of their interventions with their clients.
Physicians, as well, often encounter underlying psychological components while treating their patient’s medical issues. These can interfere with the effectiveness of their medical interventions in subtle and not so subtle ways, including treatment non-compliance. Ascend, recommended as an adjunctive intervention, may allow a productive discussion of these issues and, perhaps, motivate a patient to seek the psychological intervention necessary to more fully treat their medical conditions.
Finally, executive and life coaches clearly can enhance their clients’ progress toward their goals through assigning Ascend and discussing the valuable lessons offered throughout the book. By identifying, challenging and altering the mental models that limit their effectiveness and their ability to change, their clients can become more effective in all aspects of their lives and, in turn, have a more positive impact on the important others within their spheres of influence.