Pause Button Therapy

In these uncertain and confusing times where ambiguity is considered as clarity, marketing is masquerading as science, and problems of living are labeled as disorders, psychotherapy has become a prevalent fad that replaced the support that was once provided by the extended family and the clergy. Psychotherapists and psychiatrists rely on a variety of techniques and drugs that they bring along in their bag of tricks. Therefore, more tactics are developed to allegedly repair and transform the broken mind.

Pause Button Therapy is a new book that introduces another novel technique to help the emotionally and/or mentally afflicted person overcome his or her weakness by a push of a virtual button.

The authors are Martin and Marion Shirran, and Fiona Graham. The Shirrans are both trained hypnotherapists who own and run the Elite Clinics in Spain, where they use a combination of therapies to successfully treat a wide range of problems, while Fiona Graham is a former London journalist working as a freelance writer from her home in Spain. The authors have attempted to repackage CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), spin it, and tweak it in an effort to manufacture an allegedly new therapeutic strategy under the guise of using technological terms like pause, rewind, and fast forward.

Overall, the book is simple yet interesting. It is written in a clear and cohesive style that makes it easy to read. It consists of four parts and twelve chapters. The book delineates an approach that can be easily utilized in a range of therapies. The authors claim that it can be used in the classroom by teachers or by psychologists, parents, and students alike.

The concept of pressing the Pause, Fast Forward and Rewind buttons of a 'virtual' remote control device or by using a tangible remote control card or a wristband sounds too simplistic to induce change. As a matter of fact, change never takes place unless the person is ready and willing to take on the self-revamping process, and anything else is futile whether it is a drug or a manipulation technique. However, the book claims that by using the Pause Button Therapy the person can learn not only to stop and think, but also visualize, understand and even feel the results of his or her impulsive decisions by creating more thinking time to help him or her assess and understand the positive and negative consequences of his or her actions.

At first glance, PBT appears to be a creative and tangible strategy that could be useful as an adjunct or as an integrated tool of cognitive behavior therapy. Nevertheless, relying on the push of a button to cease or alter behavior by a virtual remote control, an actual card or a wristband could engender magical thinking, and create a fantasy of change or a pseudo-sense of control regardless of one’s perspective and attitude toward the past, present, and future. As a result, PBT can be rendered obsolete.

On the positive side, people with a decent abstract ability and tactile tendency might benefit from PBT due to the virtual and/or external device that PBT employs, which might help create a stronger association between actions and ensuing consequences. As a result, “Pause Button Therapy” might help the person undergird his or her inner control mechanisms and develop better internal brakes before jumping into rash decisions.

Finally, PBT is no different from guided imagery and CBT except for the new title. Repackaging and renaming an existing technique is no guarantee of its effectiveness, but it is a clever marketing strategy that creates an illusion of novelty and efficacy. This book might make an interesting reading for laypeople and mental health workers, and PBT might even be sold as an additional behavior altering tool to be incorporated into the armamentarium of the psychotherapeutic world.


Shirran, M., Shirran, M., & Graham, F. (2012). Pause Button Therapy. London: Hay House Publishers

article author(s)

book rating

3 of 5
2 of 5
4 of 5