Mickel Therapy Information - Audio Interview

The Sleepydust Interview With Dr Mickel

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Transcript Of Interview With Dr Mickel

Claire: Hi. Welcome to the Sleepydust interview with Dr Mickel recorded 28 August 2006. In this interview I’ll be asking Dr Mickel a few of the questions that our e-magazine subscribers sent in a while ago. I do hope that it will help to answer many of your questions. Here’s the interview.

Today I’m joined by Dr David Mickel, founder of Mickel Therapy. Thank you Dr Mickel for joining us today.

DM: You’re welcome Claire.

Claire: OK, let’s start with the basics for those listeners out here who don’t know what it is. What is Mickel Therapy?

DM: Mickel Therapy is a talking treatment that I designed to begin with to treat Chronic Fatigue / M.E and fibromyalgia but we’re starting to try it with some other conditions now.

Claire: And what is the typical process that a patient would go through? What can they expect?

DM: Well, it’s a series of one to one sessions normally unless we’re treating families where parents are invited in. The sessions last about an hour and we explore, well, we start by explaining what our belief is that is the cause of these conditions and then we’ve got a series of techniques that we show the client to apply them to their symptoms with a view to getting them to reduce and ultimately stop.

Claire: And who can benefit from Mickel Therapy? We’ve had a question from Hayley from the United Kingdom and she asks - Can Mickel Therapy be beneficial for fibromyalgia sufferers too?

DM: For fibromyalgia sufferers, yes that’s one of the main conditions that I worked with in the initial development phase. Personally I find it easier to work with fibromyalgia than some of the other conditions.

Claire: Really, so what kind of conditions does it cover? Is it just ME and fibromyalgia?

DM: No, we treat, well actually its difficult here because I’m not allowed to say that we can do it successfully until we have trials done so the other things that we work with are IBS and we work with depression, anxiety, certain types of headache and chronic pains.

Claire: Right, and how much experience do you have in treating these different types of sufferers with Mickel Therapy?
DM: Myself personally?

Claire: Yes, or your therapist?

DM: Well personally I’ve been doing it now since 1998 so that’s, what’s that, 8 years. And because I’m involved in the supervision process and training, really all the therapists should be viewed as being at the same level of competence. We have very strict measures in place to make sure that there is quality.

Claire: Right, what kind of measures are they?

DM: Well it’s based on, I kind of stole from the National Health Service actually. When I worked in General practice we had something called Clinical Governance and I just copied their model and basically what we do is the therapist are duty bound to make a report following every session and then one of the supervisors then comments on it and keeps them straight.

Claire: I see, I see, OK well here’s another question for you. Sarah is an M.E/CFS and fibromyalgia sufferer who lives in the United States and she asks – What options are available for people in the US who want to try Mickel Therapy? So basically, where around the world is Mickel Therapy available? Is it just in the UK?

DM: Well we’ve got a large number in the UK but we are branching internationally now. We have one therapist in Vermont in the States, and we’ve got therapists in Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, where else have we got them….Ireland, New Zealand. Trained in New Zealand but basically in the following 9-12 months we’re going to be expanding into the US, starting in Colorado in 2 weeks actually.

Claire: Oh great, OK, so…

DM: Other than that, we’ve also got a couple of therapists who are trained to do phone and email consultations until we can get them a face to face consultation.

Claire: Right, that’s just what I was going to ask actually. So, if there isn’t a therapist nearby then they can maybe get in touch and do something over the email system or telephone. Actually..

DM: Yes, yes. Absolutely, I’ve been quite surprised at the success of that actually as I was kind of sceptical but it does seem to be working very well and we get good feedback about it.

Claire: That’s great, yes.

DM: We’ve got four of our therapists trained to do that. The way to do it is to just go to the website under Locations, contact international therapist and then I pass on to who’s got gaps for treatment.

Claire: Great, we’ll give details of the website at the end of the interview. We’ve had a few questions relating to the fact that you claim that Mickel Therapy is an actual cure for CFS/ME. Miranda is an ME/CFS sufferer from the UK and she asks – How effective is the therapy and does it actually cure people with ME and if so, does it reoccur? And Mo from the UK asks – We all know that as of yet there is no cure for ME/CFS so how can you say that Mickel Therapy is a proven cure?

DM: Basically the word cure is always highly emotive when you use that word and I kind of regret it now. The fact is that until we have clinical trials it really just becomes, our claims are based on client testimonials so our aim is to get them to a stage when they no longer have any symptoms of their ME. Now, from my perspective that is a cure but I understand that it is very difficult to be allowed to use that term in this country.

Claire: Yep, yep.

DM: We actually got in a bit of trouble with the GMC about it so they’ve been quite helpful. In terms of does it recur? About 2% of cases seem to get a slight return of symptoms but if they come back we’re confident that we can get correct that within very few sessions, normally one or two even.

Claire: Right, OK. Let’s talk a little bit about how well Mickel Therapy works for severely affected sufferers. It’s a topic that many sufferers seem to be interested in. Here’s a question from Ross, who’s in the UK. He asks – At what stage of the illness is it best to try Mickel Therapy? ie. When bedridden, housebound, fairly active?

DM: Well, we have got several years experience of treating the severely affected range because we also offer home visits to get people’s treatments started until they’re fit enough to come into a clinic. I suppose the main difficulty with the severely affected ones, especially in terms of energy and concentration, they do need to partake in the therapy and sometimes it can be a bit slower treating those cases. So instead of taking the standard number of sessions I would usually expect them to take a little bit longer.

Claire: Right, OK, yes.

DM: So we have treated several cases which started off very, very severe. One of my most recent was someone who had just got out of hospital after three months; she discharged herself to come to the clinic, against the doctors’ advice. And she’s doing really well now.

Claire: And an ME/CFS and fibromyalgia sufferer by the name of Min from the UK has a question, a few questions actually. She asks – Of the number of ME patients with whom Dr Mickel has worked with, what percentage were severely affected and given that they are mainly housebound how has he done so? Of these, how many does he consider permanently cured?

DM: Well, first of all, the number, it’s a bit difficult to gauge because we’ve got so many therapists now and that’s not one of the ones, the statistics that we gathered but I would say that the percentage is small compared to the vast majority of cases we get and well, personally, I’ve treated – well, I can think of 10 in the last 2-3 years because I never used to do home visits. Well now I don’t have time. And since then we’ve also got therapists doing it and I do know that we’re probably about the same number again which would be about 20. Now, that’s not a huge number when you consider that we’ve treated over 600 people so, what would that be as a percentage? About a thirtieth.

Claire: Right, so most are moderately to mildly affected?

DM: Yes, which I suppose makes a lot of sense because, the thought of, you know, the severely affected ones getting involved in a talking therapy tends to put them off quite a bit I would imagine.

Claire: So you either, the severely affected sufferers do you offer home, you said home visits or is it telephone sessions or how does that work for a severely affected sufferer who might be interested in getting involved?

DM: It really depends on how severely affected they are, I mean, if they are extremely severely affected and they are effectively bedridden and not able to communicate by phone then there are a number of our therapists that are trained to do house visits. To get the treatment started and then really try to maybe move on to telephone and email work and then on to face to face to finish their treatment. That tends to be the model that we use.

Claire: Right, and how many do you consider are permanently cured, from the severely affected sufferers?

DM: Well, I suppose there would be 2 figures there. How many didn’t complete treatment and how many that I say are successes. Obviously it’s not myself who says they’re successes; in order to keep our statistics real we don’t count people as successfully treated unless they say so at the end of the treatment and we encourage them to fill in a completion form for feedback about their treatment. I would say that in terms of severely affected ones that perhaps 60-70% complete successfully. We’ve got a much higher drop out than our general cases, which is understandable again.

Claire. Yes, yes and Mickel Therapy has been described as a talking therapy and this has created a great deal of confusion amongst the fibromyalgia and ME/CFS sufferers. Let me just read you a few of the typical questions we’ve received. Danielle from the UK asks – How exactly does Mickel therapy work? Does it suggest and work on the idea that M.E is all in the mind? Mo from the UK also asks – How does Mickel Therapy cure a physical and neurological illness such as ME/CFS? And Sherbert from the UK asks – Seeing that ME is recognised as a neurological and immunological condition, how can talking fix it?

DM: Well, these are all very common questions and that’s really one of the biggest challenges I have at the moment because the unique nature of the Mickel Therapy process being that we do treat physical conditions and certainly fibromyalgia and ME are not mental ones, because it’s not a form of psychotherapy that we use. We don’t address cognitive patterns or thinking processes and really the explanation which I’ll try to keep it brief but there is a branch of medicine growing in the United States of America called vibrational medicine. It’s based on the quantum physics understanding that everything is just purely energy waves if you like, so although we appear solid we’re actually just made up of vibrating particles. My understanding is that as we go through situations in life, day to day, these situations have their own energy waves coming off them if you like and they actually affect our physical bodies immediately through the production of what we call emotions. And as that happens it starts to knock the vibrational function of the cell off and they start to not work properly, they go too fast or too slowly, they don’t produce enough chemicals or hormones and that’s what results in illness. I suppose the most important understanding is to understand that emotions in terms of how Mickel Therapy approaches them are not what was previously thought. ie they are not created by how we think, we can be thinking very positively and have a negative emotion arise within us.

Claire: The real basis of your therapy is centred around emotions isn’t it?

DM: Yes.

Claire: Or E-motion?

DM: Yes, that can get quite confusing because of the previously conceived understanding of what emotions are. You know, what we were all brought up to believe that we can alter them by thinking differently, well there is scientific research coming out of the States now and there’s a book, I’ve got it on my website, I think it was by a Professor Damatio in the States who’s doing a lot of working looking at what emotions actually are. Some of his findings have been great because they’ve been supporting what I’ve been trying to say for the last 7 or 8 years. It’s fascinating actually and because he’s a professor in a recognised, medical kind of teaching hospital people are listening to him, which is great.

Claire: Sounds very interesting as well. OK, well actually you did talk about CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, we do have a question from Arlene from the UK, she says – How does this new therapy differ from CBT?

DM: That’s a very common question; I mean, I think it’s important to understand the roots of CBT, which are that it was designed in the 1950s to treat what they thought caused depression which was wrong cognition if you like. So it’s a process that is based on working with head thoughts. How you think and how you behave in response to things that go around your world. And it’s the complete opposite of what we do, because for me CBT works with something that is quite often false because our head is very at playing tricks on us with our thoughts. The Mickel Therapy process works at the level of core emotions which are nothing to do with thoughts. So it’s not a form of psychotherapy Mickel Therapy, unlike CBT. That’s the main difference.

Claire: Yes, because you talk about Bodymind and Headmind don’t you? Could you maybe elaborate on that for the listeners?

DM: That was really, I mean, I’m not the author of that, that’s been spoken about by many people over the last 30 years but it’s to get over the idea that what goes on in our head does not always match what’s going on in our body emotionally. It’s really metaphorical because now we work with now is really called The Matrix, which is more based on the quantum physics understanding that we actually have a non-intelligent electro-magnetic field that comes off us and my belief is that it’s that interacting with energies around us that creates emotions rather than the Bodymind actually having an opinion. Which is a bit of a shame really because that means my last book is all based on a metaphor.

Claire: We’ve got another question here, a sufferer from the UK by the name of Alan wrote in with a couple of questions. He asks – I thought a virus was the cause of ME/CFS, how can a talking therapy fix it and how do you explain the virus?

DM: Good question because that’s the most common misunderstanding about CFS and ME, they are not caused by viruses. We believe that the condition that I hypothesise called Hypothalimitis, which has not yet been proven by research, that as that starts to happen the hypothalamus goes into over-drive it actually initially boosts the immune system but it can’t maintain it and the immune system crashes and it’s at that time that opportunistic infections can get into the body. It should be noted that these are effects and not actually causes of the long term condition of CFS and ME. There was also a large study done in the States where they studied identical twins, one of whom who had CFS and the other one who didn’t and they did lots of viral studies on them and showed that they were identical and therefore they deduced from that that there was no such thing as post viral fatigue syndrome.

Claire: Oh right, that’s interesting.

DM: Or CFS/ ME created by virus. It can be very confusing because quite often the real kick increase in symptoms happens round about the time when one of these infections is present. We’ve treated many, many cases and never dealt with a virus so we assume its effect and not a cause.

Claire: Well, that brings me on to the next question. Sherbert from the UK has a theory she’d like to put forward to you, she says – Is it not possible that those you have cured did not in fact have ME/CFS but had some form of mental illness that often benefits from a talking centred therapy? For example some forms of depression and states of anxiety.

DM: That’s a great question. The thing that I would say to that is that we only treat people who have had their diagnosis given to them by either their GP or better still a consultant in medicine and if they’re doing their job properly they’re supposed to stick to the Chief Medical Officers Working group report from 2002 which made it very clear that the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ ME has to be based on exclusion of all those other things that you mentioned in the question. So they exclude mental illness, they exclude viral infection, they exclude chronic inflammatory and other conditions and if they can’t exclude them they’re not allowed to give the diagnosis of CFS/ME. So the ones that we have treated and who, in their words, say they are better, effectively have had the condition and no longer have it.

Claire: Now there’s been quite a bit of speculation that Mickel Therapy is based on spirituality. Sasha from the UK wrote in with her concerns and this is what she said – I’ve heard rumours that Mickel Therapy is based on spiritual and metaphysical beliefs, I don’t believe in that kind of thing but I have heard interesting and positive recovery stories. Would I necessarily have to belief in this in order to do Mickel Therapy? Would I still be able to benefit from it?

DM: The metaphysical and spiritual beliefs are my own really and they’re just my personal interest. None of the training that I do with my therapists has to involve any of that belief and it’s based on the scientific explanation based on vibrational medicine/Quantum physics. To be honest probably more than half of our therapists don’t have similar spiritual or metaphysical beliefs to me so the simple answer to that question is no, it’s not involved. It can be if someone comes to see me but that’s through their choice.

Claire: Yep, OK. Now, although Mickel Therapy seems to have had amazing effects for some sufferers, we’ve received a few questions from people for whom it just didn’t work. Here’s a comment from Barbara, from Canada. She’s an ME/CFS and fibromyalgia sufferer and said – I pursued Mickel Therapy for one year. It cost me a great deal of money and emotional searching but unfortunately I was not left feeling an iota better, just defeated and disappointed. I’m not saying it wasn’t a valuable exercise, just wondering what went wrong as so many others appear to have found symptom relief. Is there anything that you can contribute to that, to kind of..

DM: Really in cases like that because to be honest they are quite rare, is that she should have probably made contact directly with myself through the website so I could have a look quickly at her case. We have to learn from cases that find it harder to apply the process than others. I couldn’t comment specifically on her case but I would suggest that anyone who is getting stuck with it, one their therapist would normally have to get in touch with me and explain what was difficult and if I’m not getting enough information, then I’d have a look at their case myself.

Claire: OK. Here’s a question from someone who wishes to remain anonymous. The question is – What advice do you give to patients who haven’t recovered after Mickel Therapy?

DM: Well really the same thing as the answer to the last question. I should have heard about it through the therapist in supervision and if I haven’t, really the best thing for them is to contact me directly through the website.

Claire: Really, so you really do think they can actually, you can still help them?

DM: Yes. The way things work in supervision is that every now and again there comes along a case that is just a little bit more complicated and tricky to unravel. And that’s the role of either myself or Carol as supervisors, to, quite often we have to get in touch with the client ourselves and either arrange to see them or speak on the telephone and see what’s going on. Because I have to believe that, in all honestly I mean I wouldn’t do this work if I didn’t think that it was going to be potentially successful for everyone. I couldn’t do it if it was just hit or miss sort of thing.

Claire: So basically if you’ve not managed to recover from Mickel Therapy, you have tried, you given up, then maybe it’s worth getting in touch via the site. Is that what you recommend or?

DM: Yes, just go onto Contact Us, and I’ll have a look.

Claire: OK then. We’ve got some more questions for you. One of the most common questions we’ve received is about the actual cost of the therapy. Here are a few examples. Sherbert from the UK asks – Why is it so expensive? It looks like the average cost of a course of treatment is around £700. I couldn’t afford that before I went off sick let alone now. Do you do pro bono work? Marilyn is from the UK and has both ME/CFS and fibromyalgia. She asks – Why is the therapy so expensive? I couldn’t afford the sessions and the travelling expenses to see even the nearest Mickel Therapist. And Arlene from the UK simply asks – Why is it so expensive?

DM: Well it’s a difficult question to answer, you know it’s a private therapy which has lots of overheads to, we have insurance costs, there’s premises, so the figure, I mean I completely agree it’s saddening to me that it is has to be at that level. This is what’s basically motivating us to push ahead with trying to get enough trial evidence so that the NHS can take over the bill for the sufferers. But as things are in the world of medicine, especially in the UK, they don’t make that very easy. So the cost is really not defensible, we’re not taking more than we have to if you know what I mean because there are lots of costs involved for the therapists.

Claire: And her other question. Do you do pro bono work or offer concessions at all?

DM: Yes, I encourage all of the therapists to do at least one pro bono.

Claire: And do you do any concessions at all or?

DM: Concessions. Cheaper rates?

Claire: Yes.

DM: Is that what you mean? Yes. It’s left up to the therapists because it is their livelihood after all. Certainly personally, and I do know a lot of them do this, they do charge less, especially if the treatment goes on for longer than sort of six sessions they would tend to reduce it a little bit.

Claire: So, right basically, do you think the average length of Mickel Therapy would be six sessions?

DM: Yes, well, we’re just updating our statistics on that because it seems to vary according to the area of the country that people live in which I suppose makes sense because emotional existence is different one area to another. So it can quite often mean that they have ore to work with than someone, say, who lives in a less urban setting for example.

Claire: Oh I see.

DM: But the figure at the moment tends to be about 8 sessions.

Claire: Right.

DM: As we’ve treated more people. The original figure of 6-8 sessions was based on a much smaller cohort.

Claire: So basically if there are sufferers out there who would like to try Mickel Therapy, they’re on a budget, they’ve hardly got any money, it might be worth maybe getting in touch with their local Mickel Therapist just to see if they can get some kind of concession, or something like that.

DM: Yes definitely, I would encourage them to do that. I mean I can’t make any promises because they’ve all got their overheads but I would expect them to at least consider it.

Claire: Yes, OK then, that’s good news. Some people still seem to be quite confused between the similarities and the differences between Mickel Therapy and Reverse Therapy. Sarah from the United States asks – What would you say are the main differences between Mickel Therapy and Reverse Therapy?

DM: It’s quite difficult for me to answer that question now because since my kind of acrimonious splitting up with John Eaton I don’t really know what he’s doing with the therapy now. He’s now the director of Reverse Therapy, The Company. What happened was that when I first developed the model of the hypothesis of hypothalimitis and started to apply some of the techniques, two at the time were successful. I then got back together with him because he did train me in Eriksonian work, which is Eriksonian hypno-psychotherapy and some of the stuff out of that was extremely useful. It didn’t work in treating CFS/ME and fibromyalgia in itself but I took little bits from it and little bits from elsewhere and little bits from other things that Dr Eaton had trained me in because he was my therapy trainer at the time. Then I put it into a package and showed him how to do it and we developed Reverse Therapy and then we split up so I would imagine the similarity is he’s probably still basing it on the idea that the hypothalamus goes into an overdrive state, as I taught him, but other than that I’m not sure what techniques his actual therapy involves.

Claire: Right, OK. Fair enough.

DM: Or what’s the difference in results really.

Claire: OK, we have a question actually about the NHS trials which you talked about. Ross from the UK – How long, if at all, will it be before we see Mickel Therapy being trialled by the NHS? And for our international listeners, NHS is basically the UK’s health system over here.

DM: Well, as I said, it takes quite a long time to actually conduct a trial and then you have to wait for publication. At the moment what’s happened is that we’ve got approval and I think Kyle will be able to tell you more about this actually as he…. It’s gone through the ethics committee, which means it’s approved as an observational trial to start with and then the MRC, the Medical Research Council, have said that they will look to doing a randomised controlled trial following that so, I’m guessing here because there’s a lot of bureaucracy, but I would say it’ll take at least 18months to two years.

Claire: OK. So not right now?!

DM: Our first trial is starting now but until we’re actually considered for NHS I would imagine it’ll be nearer two years. Bit disappointing really.

Claire: Well, apart from that, what other plans do you have for the Mickel Therapy organisation? What plans do you have for the future?

DM: Well really because we’ve covered the UK pretty much other than London where I’m doing a training next year, we’ve got adequate numbers of Mickel Therapists in the UK, so we’re now branching out abroad, going to the USA and right down to Australia. Other than that I’m really interested to get involved in prophylactic Mickel Therapy, that is teaching our techniques to children and their parents at an early age because I’m sure that we can prevent most of these conditions if we get better at handling emotions and life.

Claire: Interesting.

DM: So that’s one of my dreams.

Claire: Preventative?

DM: Preventative, yes.

Claire: OK. Where should our listeners go if they want more information about the therapy? Do you have a website or a contact number or something like that?

DM: Yes, That’s probably the best, well in fact it’s the only place I know other than your website that has a lot of information about the conditions so, and they can join the mailing list and get updates about treatment and trainings and things like that.

Claire: OK, and there’s a contact form on the site if they want to…

DM: Yes, there are lots of different areas they can get in touch with us through.

Claire: OK, I’ll put the details on the show notes if you didn’t catch all of that I’ll try and put all of those details on the show notes for you guys who are listening. Thank you very much Dr Mickel for joining us.

DM: You’re welcome Claire, it’s a pleasure.


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