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Annie Ward


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Trainer’s Diary: The Apex Effect


Byron Kalies
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?

Couldn’t we be more creative than this?

3 Responses

  1. getting people to think about how it’s helped them
    I wholeheartedly agree with some of your frustrations. people take credit for themselves for their successes, which is probably how it should be. The opposite side of this coin is that it’s always ‘training’s’ fault when no imporvements are seen

    How about getting people to answer 3 or 4 simple questions instead of the usual ‘happy sheet’.

    1. What have you learned that’s new to you?
    2. What have you been reminded about that you’d forgotten?
    3. How are you going to use this in the workplace?
    4. How has this training/learning helped you?

    The format for them answering the quesitons can be anything you want it to be but it does at least get them thinking about your input


  2. Hmmmm? Yes and No
    Yes this is a parallel… I stand in both worlds however as a Trainer and Person Centred Counsellor.

    Action Plans : people can sometimes either write in them and ‘commit’ to a line manager, bring to their supervision sessions and incorporate into an overall personal / professional development need, to be ‘ticked’ off in an appraisal, or alternatively, people use this learning to let a process begin to take hold.

    This process does not ‘need’ to be shared with anyone other than the individual themselves. If they are willing to answer their own questions honestly “yes there was a problem” then they may continue the learning that the trainer has been the catalyst for.

    As a Person Centred Counsellor I am given no deeper knowledge of the continued process of learning and awareness my clients have from week to week or at the end of their counselling; regardless of a closingevaluation form that they may fill in.

    As a trainer the same may be said also. In follow ups with those I have trained I may be told “yeah that was great I learned a great deal.” (a non commital response ) to “Hey Tish! since that training course Im doing Blah Blah and now a little bit of Blah as well” ( which equates to ‘ I used my learning and saw there was a problem and fixed it, hey thanks for that! response )

    The option to ‘commit and feedback’ is not as important to me as most of my training work is discussive endings and all learning affects me too. What I learn about myself NOT receiving feedback and what I chose to do about that or how I felt it impact on me is a matter for MY own process and continued learning that the participant of the course wouldn’t usually get to hear about either.

    Would I tell him / her about mine? and thank them for their impact on me? I have done and that, and it has been warmly received.

    Love those ‘Hmmmm?’ moments. Don’t you?

    Tish 🙂
    Patricia Mata
    Director PCCUK

  3. Focus on the positive ?

    My experience is in personal skills development.

    For me, seeing a light bulb come on and knowing that I, in some way, played a part in it, is the important bit. Should you expect any credit anyway, when (at least on my courses) people learn a lot from each other too ? A more subtle way of telling them about the Apex effect (if you must) is to position yourself as a facilitator of learning.

    A parallel may be that your kids never thank you, and may well villify you for your influence, but knowing that, as a minimum, you’ve kept them on the straight and narrow has its rewards.

    Speaking as an internal consultant, as far as your image with the rest of your community is concerned, there’s opportunities for you to publicise your success. I’m sure as an external consultant, you find ways of relating your success to others.

    I have found too that people DO remember courses, and to some extent trainers, if they make a difference, just as one remembers teachers from school who were influential. A bit like Tish’s point. You KNOW as a trainer, what was a good course and that it made a difference.

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Annie Ward

Editor, HR Zone

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