Ten Pin Core Theory


The Problem Behind the Problem

When someone fist approaches me for therapy they summarise what their problem is. I listen carefully and take notes. This in fact is not the problem it is the symptom that appears because of the underlying problem. As I question them about the symptom I learn about what conditions are needed to trigger the “problem”.  The clues come not just from their answers, they come from the way the say it, specific words they use, their emphasis, tell-tale body movements and physical appearance changes. Within about three sentences they have usually provided me with enough details to start my elimination guessing game, where I throw out seemingly random statements of what it might be.  It is then the clues they “give off” that take me directly to understanding the underlying issue.  And as I taper off my elimination guessing game I conclude with what they have just told me. Their reaction at this point never fails to amaze me as they come to the realisation about the cause they wonder how I got there and are totally convinced they never told me it.  Yet lead me to it they did – I am not a mind reader!

This is when I need to convince them that it is best we fix the problem – not the symptom.  This is when I explain the “Ten Pin Theory”.


Apparently the most consistent way to get a strike at ten pin bowling is to hit the front middle pin at an angle of 6 degrees. Professionals can do this regularly and even beginners can get a strike however they hit the middle pin, but hit the middle pin they must. When we deal with the core issue it is like knocking down that middle pin as this takes down most if not all the other pins.

If however I were to approach from the aspect of dealing with the symptom the client presents to me it is in effect turning the triangle of skittles around so the back 4 pins are facing. The chances of hitting a particular skittle is still the same, it is just that if we do it we are unlikely to take many others out with it.  If we miss and wait for the next session then the other skittles reset and in the next session all reset! Even if we remove the symptom skittle never to be reset we still have a front defensive line of 3 skittles that will want knocking down.

So what am I talking about when I say “core” issue? Most frequently this will take the form of an issue of low self esteem or not “deserving” something.  Once we have the core issue it’s down to experience and the correct tools and techniques relevant to that person and their issue to best resolve it.  When that is done lots of the other problem skittles will go as they had an association or attachment held in place by the low self esteem core issue.

Symptoms will return eventually if the root cause is not dealt with. That’s why I always deal with causes not effects!  I really can’t comprehend any intervention needing more than a few sessions and I usually help people get there in one session.


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