The Path and the Goal
If life’s a journey, everyone’s goal is similar, even if everyone’s path is different. Call it ‘happiness’, ‘life-satisfaction’, or ‘fulfilment’: everyone wants to feel good about themselves, their life and their world. Personal Development work – therapy, counselling, or coaching – aims to help people reach these goals. It works: therapygoers tend to feel happier afterwards than 80% of similar people who didn’t go for therapy (1). And increased happiness often brings further benefits(2):
· Stronger immune systems, less disability and longer lives.
· More creative thinking.
· More productivity at work, better feedback, and higher pay.
· Better relationships, that last longer.
· A greater ability to bounce back from adversity.
At Kipapa, we help people make their journey to happiness, fulfilment, and the benefits they offer. We use our GoalPath™ process, GrowthSpiral™, ProgressWheel™ and other tools. Here are the stages of that journey:
You’ve begun your development journey when you’ve realised you’re unhappy and you need to do something about it. If you’re unsure whether your problems would benefit from professional help, search online to see what professionals advise. But if you don’t like asking for help, consider that science has spent 150 years finding solutions for tricky personal problems like depression, anxiety and stress, that can be difficult to solve alone. Done well, therapy is as effective for emotional distress as bypass surgery is for angina: research shows that 15 sessions of personal development work can lead to as much progress as two years without help. So, if you’ve tried getting help from books or friends, and things are not improving, then it’s time to get help from a therapist or coach: a guide trained to help you with your personal journey. Seeking help is often also the considerate thing to do: Kipapa’s clients come for the good of others as well as themselves.
If you’ve thought of getting help, but haven’t done so, perhaps you don’t feel ready. Don’t put it off: one study showed 80% of people who didn’t get help felt as bad as bad four years later(3) What’s stopping you? Perhaps it’s the cost. If you’re paying for yourself, then you may like to know that economists estimate it would take a gift of £180,000 to reduce distress as much as four months therapy: Personal development work is great value for money(4). Maybe, however, the time commitment makes you hesitate: researchers say it takes 13 to 18 sessions on average to make significant gains(1). At Kipapa we aim to progress faster than that, but you need to be able to spend at least one hour every couple of weeks in a session, and a couple of hours between sessions on assignments such as reading. So, if you’re too busy for that commitment now, wait until you’ve got more time. But don’t wait until you feel completely ready, or you may never make the leap!
Once you’ve made personal development a project, you’ll want to shop around for help. The web is a bustling marketplace for coaches who say they’ll “up your game” and therapists who say they’ll repair emotional damage. You’ll get a sense from your search of whether you want your journey to be short or long, surface or deep, fun or serious. You may want to go one to one or become a member of a group. You may prefer a methodical approach that uses surveys and plans, or a more intuitive one where each session is guided by your impulse. So how do you tell whom and what to trust? Directories can screen out the guides who lack qualifications. Credentials can tell you whether a guide had a reputable training. Evidence sites like NICE can tell you about the well-researched solutions. Recommendations can tell you what worked for others. But that still leaves a lot of scope, so consider them, then interview guides and see whom you like. If your problem is common, an experienced guide will know how to help, and will take you on well-travelled pathways. But if you have multiple goals, or your problem is rare, you’ll benefit from a bespoke itinerary, like the kind we specialise in at Kipapa: we focus on the crossover between personal and working life. We use our JourneySpec quiz to tell us which approach you will prefer. You can fill it in here: https://www.cognitoforms.com/KipapaLtd/JourneySpec
At Kipapa, we spend the first couple of sessions exploring your situation. We develop a good working relationship and find the best path to take. At the start of this journey, it’s normal to have mixed feelings, as different parts of you may want to head in different directions. One of our jobs is to help you identify those different versions of you and get them all “on the bus”, heading in the same direction. We also need to develop an initial “formulation” of your problems to explain how they fit together and how best to solve them. At Kipapa, the Psycnav grid helps us to build a formulation that allows us to go step by step.
Now the real work begins. You want to solve in weeks problems that took years to mature. So success will take more than insight. You will need to feel uncomfortable feelings, make decisions and complete assignments. How can you help make the process work? By turning up to sessions, completing assignments, and giving honest feedback. You’ll gradually face your problems, with our support, and it will also help to get support from family or friends between sessions. Progress may be faster initially, then slow down, as early successes solidify into lasting changes. How long the process takes will depend on how far you’ve got to go. The more problems you have, and the longer you’ve had them, the longer it’ll take. Some problems are more technical than others: careers guidance or panic can take as little as 6 sessions. Obsessions can take as many as 20. Overall, research says 50% of therapy clients get to “meaningful change” after 9 sessions and “recovery” after 13 to 18 sessions(5). The NHS often doesn’t offer that many sessions, which may be why only about 40% of attendees to NHS therapy achieve lasting recovery(6); hence the need for private therapy and coaching.
Challenges are obstacles in the way of your development as a person. Human development continues lifelong unless you get blocked by being unable, for example, to leave home, find a partner, progress at work, or pursue your interests. At Kipapa we use Psycnav™ and the GrowthSpiral™, to discover what’s blocking your path, at which level, and why. That tells us which approach will help you overcome an obstacle at that level. And when we approach an obstacle, we often tackle it step by step using the ProgressWheel™.
Every development journey has its ups and downs. You may feel worse for a while, as we uncover the causes of your problems. That may feel like a setback, but don’t lose heart: those feelings also reveal what’s going on and so make success more likely. You’ll need patience. It takes time and practice to building knowledge, strengths and skills that last. Perfectionists, who drop out at the first difficulty, lose out. Progress is cumulative: insight builds on insight; skill on skill. That’s why at Kipapa we like to go step by step up the GrowthSpiral™, and why we give you session notes and readings: we want you to build up a collection of material which will stand you in good stead when our work is done.
Many books, courses, and therapies sell breakthrough, the myth of the “golden key” that will unlock your problems. True, some people do get big changes from a single solution, but even when there is one key, it can be difficult to find, and most people will need several solutions. In our experience, breakthroughs generally come from successes working together at several levels, from the cellular to the social. So at Kipapa we map out your problems and match them to a range of biological, psychological and social solutions from our Helpgrid database, which at presently names over 800 approaches and 2000 steps. We don’t provide all those approaches by any means, but when we don’t, we can point you in the right direction. When a breakthrough happens, it’s usually gradual, as when rising waters burst a dam. The pressure of change builds, causing cracks to appear in your old way of operating. Areas of your life become flooded with your new thinking, old ways gradually sink out of sight, and you build up new habits at a higher level.
If you define your problem as feeling bad, then anything that reduces bad feelings can count towards success. But if you feel bad because you don’t like yourself or your situation, then success means improving yourself or your situation as well as your feelings. At Kipapa we want the success of you feeling happier, but more, we want the success of you improving yourself and your situation, because we believe it leads to more lasting happiness. We change self and situation by reaching a series of goals that build on each other. So we like to ask you what goals you have, and what would count as reaching them. Then we use this GoalPath™ and the GrowthSpiral™ to put them, and tackle them, in order. You’ll achieve new levels of success as you reach each of your goals.
People often stop doing personal development work as soon as they feel better: They think they can relax and get back to the old groove. Bad Idea! – particularly with problems like anxiety and depression, where studies show a third to a half of people who feel better soon slide back into the same pit of bad feelings. That’s why at Kipapa we believe it’s essential not only to help people get away from their problems using Clinical Psychology but also to guide them towards a better place using Positive Psychology, and that’s the reason why we aim to move people up the GrowthSpiral™: when they are headed in a new and positive direction and they are operating at a higher level, they’re less likely to slide back into old problems. You can also help yourself to consolidate your gains by re-reading the notes of our sessions, by becoming expert on the problem you’re solving, by moving into new environments and meeting new people, and above all by planning a better future until you become captivated by making it happen.
Some see personal development work as selfish navel-gazing, which would be true if it were only about you. But in reality, you’re taking action so you can be of more value to others as well as to yourself. You have things to offer that the world needs. You’ll have energy you can put into people and causes you value. Being happier will help you use your abilities more effectively. It will make you more empathic, altruistic and generous. When you have discovered new truths about yourself and the world, you’ll want to share them with other people who need help. As you travel up the GrowthSpiral™, your circle of concern will grow to embrace more of humanity, and you will be more ready to contribute to solving problems the world faces. You’ll share your successes with the world.
The aim of Personal Development is to get more value out of life for you and for others. At Kipapa we’re here to help people get out of life’s troughs, so they can ride the waves of their lives, enjoy their time on the beach, and climb their personal mountains. Ultimately, though we’re about helping people to value their life and enjoy it to the full. Studies show that much of the time people “stumble on happiness”(7), rather than knowing where to find it. It can be elusive. So personal development work is important because it helps you work out what will make you happy and fulfilled. In sum, you can not only enjoy the journey of Personal Development, but also enjoy the places you get to in life as a result of that journey, and enjoy looking back on how far you’ve come. So the satisfaction of the Journey of Personal Development can be lifelong.
1. Hansen NB, Lambert MJ, Forman EM. The Psychotherapy Dose-Response Effect and Its Implications for Treatment Delivery Services. Clin Psychol Sci Pract. 2006 May 11;9(3):329–343.
2. Diener E, Tay L. A scientific review of the remarkable benefits of happiness for successful and healthy living. Happiness. 2017;
3. Bjerkeset O, Nordahl HM, Larsson S, Dahl AA. A 4-year follow-up study of syndromal and sub-syndromal anxiety and depression symptoms in the general population. Social Psychiatry and …. 2008;
4. Boyce CJ, Wood AM. Money or mental health: the cost of alleviating psychological distress with monetary compensation versus psychological therapy. Health Econ Policy Law. 2010 Oct;5(4):509–516.
5. Hansen NB, Lambert MJ. An evaluation of the dose-response relationship in naturalistic treatment settings using survival analysis. Ment Health Serv Res. 2003 Mar;5(1):1–12.
6. Psychological Therapies: Annual Report on the use of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services, England, 2014/15. 2015.
7. Gilbert D. Stumbling on happiness. 2009;