Three Principles Intervention (3PI)
“You are one thought away from complete mental health”
Sydney Banks, The Three Principles, 1985
This therapeutic approach is not based on inward analysis, cognitive restructuring or behaviour modification. Rather, it is based on education of human beings about their physiological and psychological functioning so they can receive insights about their own cognitive (thought) processing, allowing them access to Three Principles understanding (3PU). This, in turn, leads to clearer thinking through thought recognition and eventually results in a return to the default status of innate mental health.
Once understood, it is up to the client whether or not to make changes towards better mental health. Somehow, giving this power to the individual, seems to result in a great sense of relief and empowerment, replacing former feelings of hopelessness and disempowerment and often resulting in spontaneous recovery from addiction and other mental health issues which eludes traditional psychotherapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Many traditionally trained clinical psychologists and psychiatrists find this approach difficult to conceive due to the unconscious, spiritual nature of the intervention as well as the understanding that the therapeutic process is more about showing clients where their life experience is coming from, as opposed to working with them to attempt to change their experience (thoughts, feelings and behaviour). In order to create lasting change for those suffering from mental health issues, there needs to be a shift in focus amongst traditional therapists to the view that all human beings are inherently wise, stable and possess innate mental health. All are capable, in the right conditions (a quiet mind) of constructive, secure and positive thinking, leading to sustained, natural, innate mental health.
What are the Three Principles?
A new psychospiritual understanding known as the “Three Principles” proposes that people can realise and sustain improved mental health via insights gained through understanding the spiritual principles of “Universal Mind, Universal Consciousness and Universal Thought”. This understanding was gained and taught by Sydney Banks, a Scottish welder who had emigrated to Canada. In 1973, Banks received this ancient knowledge as a “spontaneous spiritual transformation”. Banks suggested an alternative to the Freud-based psychoanalytical and cognitive-based psychotherapies (CBT) adopted by Psychiatrists and psychologists globally, including the National Health Service in the UK. These methods teach practitioners to revisit their clients’ painful past and attempt to change the person’s thinking, feelings and experiences around a traumatic experience, teaching them coping strategies, rather than teaching clients to release memories from the past and replace negative, damaging thoughts with positive, more productive thoughts, resulting in “Health Realisation” (HR) or Three Principle Understanding (3PU).
· Universal Mind is the intelligence of all things whether in form or formless
· Universal Consciousness is the gift that allows us to see creation and all it entails
· Universal Thought is the guide that lets us be thinking creatures going through this world
Banks saw that all the suffering in the world could be resolved by an understanding of the three principles which allow us to create our own reality. We do this, mostly unconsciously, through life, with varying degrees of success and failure. Banks taught people that their thoughts were not “real”, simply an illusion in time and space and that, we all have the ability to see our thoughts for what they are in order to regain some control over our lives.
Banks’ techniques led to improved mental/spiritual wellbeing amongst those who listened to his wisdom. Over the years, improvement in people’s lives ranged from lay people with failing marriages, resolving their issues, to failed business turnarounds to inmates of prisons and correctional institutions changing their beliefs about crime and their subsequent behaviour. These changes in behaviour included addictive behaviour where clients using drugs and/or alcohol found that they no longer required these substances to try and make their lives more bearable.
Banks insisted that all of us have “innate mental health” and that, contrary to what most believe, ie. that life is an “outside-in” process where we have little control over our thoughts and circumstances, the reverse is actually, the case. Life is an “inside-out” process where we can tap in with a quiet mind, to the innate wisdom within us, gaining an understanding of the Three Principles of Universal Mind, Consciousness and Thought (MCT). The only factor which can cloud this vision is one’s own thinking. This principle-based paradigm has been described in the literature as Psychology of Mind and Neo-Cognitive Psychology.
Banks described negative thoughts as “scratches on a window: they stop you from seeing life with clarity. When the negative thoughts cease, the scratches disappear and the window becomes crystal clear. Then the beauty and positive aspects of life can be seen.” He viewed these three principles as an inseparable, inter-related trinity providing the connection between the formless life force and the world of form. This view of life experience, as a dynamic, continuum where formless merges with form is consistent with current perspectives in ancient eastern practices, quantum physics and neurophysiology.
Facilitators, like myself, who model mental health created by use of these three principles, work towards helping clients reach a state of clarity and calmness to allow this realisation to occur from within. Becoming more aware of these processes often leads to a profound “understanding” of the principles at play in creating one’s reality as opposed to simply reaching an “awareness” that their thoughts are perpetuating suffering, as used in the traditional CBT approach. This simple but fundamental difference in perception can lead to improved thinking and subsequent improved behaviour amongst those facing difficult situations, such as addiction or incarceration. The aim of the Principle-based psychology is to induce “recovery” rather than “temporary respite” from mental health issues, including addiction, as the clients realise the true nature of thought and gain control over their reality through an inside-out process of understanding about life and, their lives in particular. Once understood, the Three Principles of life and creation becomes an unmistakable, pervasive wisdom which clients can tap into at will, in order to receive insights (“sights from within”), allowing them to better deal with situations and circumstances that would otherwise have led to negative patterns of behaviour, including addiction and crime. In the same way that fear of an unknown, like a dark shadow, once discovered for what it actually is, can never again hold the same fear for the individual perceiving its existence through contaminated thought.