One of the major challenges in any learning process is to transfer the new skills into everyday life.
A safe training setting may be conducive for gaining new knowledge, but a real environment may present unexpected difficulties, which will make it much harder to apply this knowledge when it is really needed.
A highly useful approach that addresses this problem is called the “transfer package” and is used in constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) for post-stroke recovery.
According to Dr. Ed Taub, it started with the therapists’ frustration with the traditional approach. They would help the patients recover from the loss of mobility associated with strokes in the hospital setting, only to see them stumbling to apply their new skills as soon as they’d leave the hospital and go to the parking to get into their car.
These patients would find it difficult to apply the skills they have learned during their therapy for the simple everyday tasks, like getting into a car or walking around their house. Therefore, a method called “transfer package” was developed to help those patients apply what they have learned (both physically and mentally) outside of the training sessions.
This same method can also be beneficial for learning to apply the new knowledge in a real-life context: whether we’re talking about physical knowledge or mental skills.
Moreover, the “transfer package” can potentially become a standard for building APIs between various practices. (API means Application Protocol Interface — a concept used in computer science for building interoperable applications that can communicate and work with each other). The reason for that is the transfer package method’s ability to help apply a skill learned in one context towards a situation that arises in another context. So it could also be used to make interdisciplinary knowledge more compatible and interoperable.
The core of the transfer package is accountability, modularity, and feedback. The patients are encouraged to think together with the therapist how they are going to address the challenges in the real life using the skills they obtained during training sessions.
They will then sign a “contract” where they lay out the gradual step-by-step implementation process of their new skills into everyday life. The contract is used for accountability: the patient agrees to evaluate their progress with the therapist regularly. Should any obstacles (or “tensions”) arise, they will be cleared through a discussion.
Gradually, the therapist and the patient will evaluate the success rate of implementing the new knowledge into the real-life context, logging the progress, and working together to improve the implementation process.
EightOS uses a similar approach in its training sessions. A crucial part of EightOS practice is the ability to transfer the skills learned through the body into the other contexts: both outside of the training sessions (physically) and outside of the physical realm (e.g. social interaction, creative work).
Therefore, the transfer package approach becomes a powerful tool that helps transfer the ideas that we practice during EightOS sessions outside of the training context into the practical realm.
What are the main elements of the transfer package?
First, we define what we want to work on: for instance, the idea of fluidity, resilience, or modularity.
2. Embodied Practice.
The core element of EightOS is that we do theory and practice in a way that is embodied so that the new knowledge can be recorded not only intellectually but also through the reflexes, on the level of the body.
3. Compensatory Mechanisms.
We want to be aware of any compensatory mechanisms, which may emerge as “solutions” during the practice. Those are the “crutches” that help us resolve certain experiences, but it is good to be aware of their presence and to have a choice as to whether they should be present or not (depending on the aesthetical preferences and objectives). The goal of EightOS is not some kind of perfection but rather an enhanced sense of awareness. Therefore, we always want to be aware of the compensatory mechanisms and the constraints that provoke their emergence. In CIMT, we prefer to do things the “hard way”: we do not allow the “good” hand to perform what the less responsive hand cannot do anymore so that the damaged part of the body can better learn the skills that it needs. In EightOS, we can use both approaches; however, we need to be aware of the “crutch” we’re using and make sure that there’s a reason for choosing to keep it rather than getting rid of it. And that the reason is not that “it’s easier.” Because whatever is easier in the short-term may render things much more difficult in the long-term.
4. The Contract. Once we have practiced the new skills and identified the constraints and compensatory mechanisms, it is time to write a contract. This contract has a list of daily and specific activities (divided into smaller, easier chunks) to be performed by the EightOS user in a certain period of time (1 day, 8 days, a month, a year). The user selects some of these activities that they agree to perform using the EightOS principles, procedures, and feedback about the full application use. For instance: every time I hit an object when I pass it by, I’m going to flow around it and breathe rather than shouting and getting nervous about it. Or: every time somebody cuts me while I’m driving, I’m going to assimilate the impulse and dissipate it, taking it easy.
5. Logging. Both the facilitator and the user sign and print out the list of activities that are to be tried out; the user gets a logging sheet with these activities listed where they can mark off whether they performed EIghtOS in their selected activity, if it worked or did not, or if they didn’t manage to perform it at all, and their comments about it.
6. Tensions. At the next meeting, they identify the points of tension in these implementations (e.g., something is not working out, is difficult, it’s not clear how it should be applied, or the outcome is not as intended) and work together to fix the situation and to apply it better next time (with subsequent feedback).
7. Reiterate. The whole process will then get reiterated until the desired outcomes have been achieved. It is important to note that those outcomes do not necessarily have to be about doing something better. It can also be about trying to do certain things in a certain way to explore how one feels about it or to “taste the experience.” The objective is the aesthetics of the experiences, not necessarily some sort of progress or evolution (which may also arise as an emergent quality of the process). In that way, the EightOS approach is different from therapy: we don’t assume something is wrong and has to be fixed. We assume that something can be different and that we can explore the implications of that different approach in order to see how it feels for us and what effects it has on the environment. The goal of EightOS reprogramming is to play with the code and to explore the process, rather than to “fix” something.
8. The Ending. Once a few reiterations are made, it is important to close the process so that the conscious part of awareness is being removed from the equation. What happens when we stop tracking this activity? Does it remain a part of our daily experience? How does it transform?
Overall, the transfer package approach helps to implement new knowledge through iterative, feedback-based awareness, and a particular focus on obstacles that arise during the progress.
When used outside of the therapy context, it can be a useful tool to reinforce the new knowledge and ensure that it can be applied outside of the educational process.
Combined with the embodied experience approach practiced in EightOS, this new knowledge is recorded on the level of reflexes, making it immediately available (as a choice) when it may be interesting or necessary as a specific kind of response to a particular situation or an environmental setting.