The Syntone approach

Author: Kozlov N.I.​, Ph.D. of Psychology
Rector of the University of Practical Psychology

​The Syntone approach is an independent distinctive psychological trend which has its own philosophy, its original personality theory, its own scientific and methodological basis, and its peculiar system of psychological and pedagogical technologies. The Syntone approach as an area of practical psychology has evolved in the process of the activities of the Syntone Psychological Centre, and as a result of the efforts of its leader Kozlov N.I. and his colleagues.

We can state that the Syntone approach nowadays is the leading school in Russian practical psychology. It is in the framework of this approach that the latest most serious research in psychological training practice has been done; this approach has produced the majority of the best personality coaches of Russia; dozens of independent training schools have been formed on the basis of the Syntone approach. The approach demonstrates the highest effectiveness in the field of personality trainings, and is successfully used in counseling work as well. It is important to note that the Syntone approach is an integrative psychological trend based on original Russian research and incorporating the achievements of virtually all modern psychological approaches.

The Syntone approach is strictly materialistic, and builds its practical work exclusively on the basis of scientific world outlook. In particular, it is based on scientific ideas and developments of neobehaviorism, cognitive psychology, modern psychoanalysis and humanistic psychology, while rejecting any mystics, esoterism and everything that goes beyond scientific views.

Within the Syntone approach a person is not just an organism that adapts to the environment in order to satisfy its needs and achieve comfort. A person can live as a personality adapting the environment to himself, guided by his own goals and values. Thinking and caring about yourself and your personal health and happiness is not the aim of psychological work, but only a natural condition for serving your surroundings: people and society. Turning into your inner world, working with your individual problems and even self-perfection are not an end in itself, but a way to enhance your effectiveness in business and in relationships with people.

Choosing between adaptive behavior and development the Syntone approach advocates personal development. To adapt to life is a far less worthy target than to develop yourself into a respectable personality, and to create a worthy life around you. The Syntone approach views a person as the Author, the Master of his own fate who has free will and intellect.

The Syntone approach is an active personality attitude in which a person is responsible not only for his behavior and actions, his decisions and choices, but for his inner world as well, for his thoughts and feelings. Being aware of something can help us, but can’t solve all our problems: only adequate and energetic actions will lead to the necessary result. Our intentions are important, but much more important are their results – something that we have really achieved. Different kind of excuses do not change the outcome, and it is the person himself who is responsible for what he did or didn’t do.

The Syntone approach focuses on the issues of values, the meaning and direction of life. Being an ethical approach the Syntone approach assumes that it is wrong to put psychological tools and techniques into the hands of those who can use them irresponsibly as a weapon against other people. A significant aspect of the Syntone ethics is the notion of ethical types and lifestyles of Consumer, Parasite, Romantic and Creator. The Syntone approach does not appreciate egoism and the value of individual promotion, but supports the value of cooperation. Happiness and inner wellbeing is not an end in itself, but a means of effective service to people. Looking at your life you should ask yourself not what you have got from life and people, but what you have given them. The mission of the Syntone approach is to make life better by means of personality development; to build up a personality whose life principle is “Whatever I do, the amount of good in the world should increase.” Children are born with very different aptitudes, but the task of family and society is to make them into personalities. In the Syntone approach society and culture are not dangerous introjecting elements but a source of civilization, something that has given us our tools, our strengths and abilities, our individuality. The Syntone approach is humanistic in its essence, and realistic in the ways it works. This approach is very practical, oriented primarily not towards explanation, but towards transformation. Theoretical explanations are appropriate only when they become a working tool and provide an opportunity to solve the set tasks.

The Syntone approach is successfully used both in trainings and in counseling practice, and it insists on combining instrumental and value approaches for them. The Syntone method is very technological as it offers a lot of techniques that really work. The best aids of the Syntone approach in the sphere of personality development trainings are represented in the Syntone program; in the area of business trainings – in the “Business standard” program; in the sphere of coaching - in the ”Distance” program. The principal features of the Syntone approach in psychological counseling are:

  • transferring the client from the position of the Victim to the position of the Author
  • combining the characteristics of coaching and mentoring
  • working mostly through positive and constructive factors
  • combining warm support with tough demands.

The Syntone approach believes that people can be strong, rational and determined, they can live to the maximum, they can set big goals and achieve them. The main difference between the Syntone approach and other psychological concepts is that it primarily focuses on personality development, and its training courses provide powerful stimulus for personality growth. However, the ability to manage yourself, to get rid of unnecessary emotions, to learn to control your feelings is just the initial aim of personality development. The next major task for a developed many-sided personality is to reach its full potential, to become successful in this world: in relationships, in private life, in your business, in your career, in society. The Syntone approach can be called the psychology of high achievements. To ensure that faith in human abilities is realistic the Syntone approach teaches people to be realistic, skilled and effective. The Syntone motto is: “It is more useful and effective to teach than to treat.” Negativism as such is not welcomed. It is wrong to look for weaknesses and problems in people urging them to turn to psychotherapy. It is necessary to look at all aspects in people, but it is proper and much more professional to show them their strengths and potentialities directing them towards personality growth and perfection.

Psychotherapy in the Syntone approach is similar to a healthy person visiting a doctor. Mental health is guaranteed by a healthy way of life, adequate life values, the ability to build relationships and live in the ‘positive, constructive, responsible’ framework. If and when psychotherapy becomes necessary, the Syntone approach recommends to start from ‘the tip of the iceberg’, from evident everyday reasons of different psychological problems without going deep into underlying issues. To normalize sleep and meals, to regulate physical activities, to eliminate psychological ignorance in building relationships – these are priority tasks, and not the idea of searching into early childhood or previous lives.

The Syntone approach values human intellect, and calls on everyone to give themselves the trouble to think. People should be reasonable. They should perceive and understand what is going on around them from the 5 positions: that of their personal interests, their partner’s interests, from the point of view of an outside observer, from the systematic viewpoint and from the position of service to the people.

In the Syntone approach the existing personality and its emotions make up a set of personal tools – the building material for a person to form his/her personality for the future. A personality is not born, it is made step by step, up to the highest level of development. Every person’s duty is to develop his feelings and learn to manage them. Only people who can’t control their emotions have to suppress them. Any feelings should exist in harmony with the intellect and be under its command. A developed personality should have all its emotions targeted and rational.

A person’s childhood is a fundamental period when the basic principles of the person’s relationships with the world are laid. This process is described in the theory of the social psychoanalysis of emotions, which the Syntone approach considers to be one of the most significant. At the same time, the Syntone approach directs a person towards living in the future. The past has passed, the present is only the motive for building the future. The Syntone method is against ‘digging up’ one’s past and looking for explanations and excuses of today’s problems. It suggests setting goals, outlining a plan of actions and getting down to building a worthy personal future while considering the people you love and the business you do.

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Steve 30 июля 2014 02:32:33

It may sound strange but I've heard about syntone approach and actually a lot of guys heard about it outside of Russia. Hope to see this approach as the leading one not only in russian practical psychology.

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