The Lefkoe Method
I first ran across the Lefkoe Method in a well known personal development forum a year ago. Since I am a bit of a self-development junkie and I can't pass up a free sample, I found the 'Eliminate One Limiting Belief for Free' offer pretty irresistible. Now, I am not the kind of person who is easily impressed. I have been doing this self-development thing for a long time now and I know a thing or two about psychology and spirituality so I can usually spot a faker a mile away. I went into the process with pretty low expectations, truth be told, because I am used to people under-delivering on their promises, but I figured 'what the heck' and gave it a whirl.
To make a long story short, twenty minutes later, I was a believer.
Lefkoe Belief Process
If you haven't heard of the Lefkoe Method, it represents a number of different strategies designed by Morty Lefkoe to help people overcome limiting beliefs and behaviors. The core of this method revolves around something called the Lefkoe Belief Process (or LBP).
The LBP is essentially a dialogue between Lefkoe and a patient to determine what the patient wants to change about his or her life. Typically, the changes that a person wants to make revolve around eliminating undesired behaviors or emotions. Based on the client's perceived need, Lefkoe works with the patient to determine which beliefs may be responsible for the undesired behavior or emtions, or for the patient's inability to engage in the desired behavior.
Once a belief has been identified, Lefkoe tests to make sure the belief is, in fact, present by having the patient repeat the belief out loud and having the patient confirm that it really is a belief that they have based on their emotional response to stating the belief.
Lefkoe then directs the patient's attention to their past to try to uncover the source of the belief. Typically this takes a few minutes to half an hour as the patient goes back over his childhood trying to remember salient details from his relationship with his parents. Specific incidents aren't important, only a general recollection of how interactions between the person and his or her parents typically went.
When the source of the belief is identified, Lefkoe makes a point of assuring the patient that that belief, however undesireable it may be in the present, was a perfectly valid interpretation of the events at the time that it was formed. The patient's beliefs are never invalidated or fought against.
Recognizing that the belief is one valid interpretation of events, Lefkoe then has the patient generate alternative interpretations of the events which led to the formation of the belief. These alternative interpretations are shown to be equally valid. In other words: the patient's belief is only one of many equally valid interpretations.
Lefkoe then asks if the patient ever saw or felt the belief. Invariably, patients respond that they did, in fact, witness the belief and that it would have been obvious to others as well based on the actions and statements made by the patient's parents. When he asks them to describe what the belief looks like, however, patients are unable to assign specific details and they begin to realize that what they thought they saw outside in the world was really just an interpretation of external events (facial expressions, actions, words) that they witnessed, that the belief existed solely inside their own head, and that they had been responsible for creating it.
When the patient realizes that his or her belief is only an interpretation of events, something created by themselves and not a thing in itself, and only one among many valid alternatives, the belief loses its potency, it stops being a belief and becomes just another interpretation. Once a belief has been defused by this process, it no longer has any influence over a person's behavior and the patient's behaviors and feelings change automatically. To verify this change for the patient's benefit, Lefkoe has the patient restate his original belief out loud so that he can see for himself how his beliefs have changed.
Lefkoe claims that this process is effective in completely eliminating negative and limiting beliefs in almost all cases and that, once eliminated, the beliefs do not return. Lefkoe does caution that most undesireable behaviors and feelings are the result of more than one belief and that, like a table with many legs, all related beliefs must be eliminated before the patient will be completely relieved of his or her undesirable feelings or behavior. (I can say from my own experience that even eliminating a single belief has had a tremendous impact on my life.)
Since a single belief can typically be eliminated within an hour, even if several beliefs are involved, it can transform a process that typically takes months or years of therapy into a process that can be completed in a few one hour sessions. What's more, this process can be conducted over the phone, or even by means of watching videos (as it is in the case of the free sample).
This process is fast, effective, and permanent. Compared to other therapies, it is also cheap. It sounds almost too good to be true. Is it? I was beginning to wonder if I'd just imagined the change in myself, or if it was a fluke so I decided to do a bit of digging.
Why Doubt the Claims
Everybody knows there are a lot of scams on the web. A lot of these scams revolve around self-improvement or personal development, which is why everyone should approach claims made by 'life coaches' and other self-help 'gurus' with a healthy dose of skepticism. But is every too-good-to-be-true claim unfounded?
There are a number of reasons why you might not trust Morty Lefkoe's claims that he can provide a cheap, fast, effective, permanent solution to your problems. (And I certainly wouldn't based on my recommendation alone.) For starters, the claim itself is pretty tremendous. If his method is so effective, why haven't more people adopted it? Why hasn't it drawn more attention from the media? Why haven't more scientific studies been done about it?
The second reason falls squarely on Lefkoe's marketing techniques. There is no way around it: Morty Lefkoe sounds like he is trying to sell you something. The promotional website for his product Natural Confidence reads like every other successful online scam: one long page alternating between big claims, customer testimonials, and options to "buy now". The coupons, money back guarantee and signature on the bottom are just the icing on the cake.
Even more damaging to his credibility is the affiliate program which pays people to send traffic his way in exchange for a cut of the profits. In my research, I was able to locate more than one web site that looked like it had been set up solely to garner such earnings with little or no effort on the part of the owner to disguise his or her intentions.
So what is one to make of all this?
Validating the Claims
It is difficult to validate therapeutic claims at the best of times. The boogeyman of scientific confirmation has plagued the mental health industry from it's very inception. As an author, the best I can hope for is to locate evidence that seems to support or refute these claims: testimonials provided by individuals who have been through the process, papers reporting the results of scientific studies, and a background check on Morty Lefkoe and the Lefkoe Foundation.
Surprisingly, there is some evidence that Morty Lefkoe's claims might, in fact, be true.
To begin with, Morty Lefkoe is not some unknown, anonymous web persona. Lefkoe has had a practice for over 25 years, he has appeared on television, in newspapers and magazines, and has written a book along with hundreds of print and online articles. He has also given talks to business and mental health professionals and has even received testimonials from people like Steven Covey. Clearly, he's putting himself out there and on the line.
Second, the Lefkoe Method has been compared favorably to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which has been extensively tested with considerable positive reviews. If you are at all familiar with CBT, then you probably noticed the similarities when the process was described above. Lefkoe contends, with some justification, that the LBP goes beyond traditional CBT to cut to the heart of the matter but he could certainly have found himself in worse company.
Third, Lefkoe's process has been the subject of at least three scientific studies: a study conducted in 1995 with incarcerated offenders; a study conducted in 2006 with people who fear public speaking; and a study in 2010 with people who had used his Natural Confidence product. The results of the second experiment can be found here. I couldn't locate a copy of the first experiment and the results of the third experiment are still forthcoming, unfortunately. Not only has his process been studied, but Lefkoe actively encourages other researchers to study it. That doesn't sound like something a con artist would do.
Third, in spite of extensive online investigations, the testimonials given by real people seem to be, on the whole, very positive. Most people responding to questions about the process were very enthusiastic and stated that using the process had resulted in significant improvements in their life. Even the claims made by people who found little or no benefit were, on the whole, quite tame and admitted that they had had only limited exposure to the process or had only undergone a part of the process. Those who made highly negative claims had never tried the process and appeared to be basing their opinion on their estimation of Lefkoe's marketing strategy.
Lefkoe admits that his practice has suffered from a PR problem from the very beginning. People just refuse to believe that his method is really that good. And to be fair: his advertising isn't grossly inappropriate; scammers use these techniques for their own 'products' because they work. And an affiliate marketing program isn't a bad idea, really, for a process that can be taught, scaled, and handled by phone or video interventions, especially since it doesn't seem to get a lot of traction with the media or mental health industry.
You'll Believe It When You Stop Believing It
But I guess the proof is in the pudding. If you're skeptical, like I was, your best bet is to try the 'free sample' on his website, Recreate Your Life. Go into it with an open mind, and follow the instructions to the letter (I am convinced it wouldn't have worked as well as it had if I hadn't spoken out loud when prompted, even if it did make me sound like a fool). I've tried it, and I have to admit, the pudding was pretty good.
When you're done, come back and share your experiences here.