by Alfred A. Barrios, PhD.
Self-Programmed Control Center, Los Angeles, CA

Materials for each instructor:
  1. A copy of the text for the program, Towards Greater Freedom & Happiness (TGFH),
  2. a set of stress cards, one per student, and
  3. a DVD of the Spiral Technique for leading the students through this technique.

An audio CD of all seven SPC techniques is also available. Each SPC student should at the very least be given a copy of the book, a stress card and a pendulum.


I. Provide the following overview:

The SPC program is a highly effective program for giving individuals greater control over all aspects of their lives. This includes: Health & Wellness, including Stress and Bad Habits & Addictions and Immuno-Deficiency Diseases; Relationships; and Learning Capabilities. There are two basic reasons the program has proven so effective. First, it provides the two key components necessary for positive change: (1) The means for increasing belief in one's capabilities (Self-Efficacy); and (2) The Positive Guidance and tools for achieving one's goals. The former provides the all-important ingredient for facilitating change. The basic problem with most people is that it is very hard to change, and belief is a most powerful catalyst for change. And the guidance component provides some good ideas for what changes to make. The second reason for the program's effectiveness is the immediate positive feedback provided, and that's what the techniques provide in all aspects of the program - immediate positive results, making the belief factor all the more powerful.

This outline will act as a guide to teaching SPC both to others as well as oneself. The text for the program will be Towards Greater Freedom & Happiness (TGFH). The program is very easy to teach (see pages 28-34 in TGFH), so much so that many students of SPC easily pass on the techniques to their friends and relatives.

II. Hand out the Stress Cards (Important! - Make sure the room temperature is between 70-74F):

Point out that the cards are not just a test for stress but more importantly a training tool for learning stress control. The Stress Card is an excellent example of the positive immediate feedback provided by all the techniques of the program. Have each student see what color they initially register on the card. Ask for a show of hands of how many register black, red, green or blue. Explain that the card is basically a thermometer measuring fingertip temperature which is correlated with stress level. When a person is anxious or stressed the blood goes inward causing the hands and feet to go cold, and the card registers black. As one becomes more relaxed, the blood flows outward and the hands grow warmer changing the color from black to red to green to blue. At this point you can lead the group through one or more of the relaxation techniques on the back of the card, then retest. Next ask for a show of hands of how many have already begun to improve in color; i.e., how many have already begun to show greater relaxation. Then point out that the SPC techniques will produce even greater control with even more positive responses on the card. Be sure to retest with the card after each SPC technique.

III. Introduce the SPC Techniques:

Point out that these techniques are for demonstrating the power of one's mind and how to more effectively tap into this power. After going through one or more of these techniques one begins to truly believe that positive changes will be taking place. Explain that there will be a number of different SPC techniques introduced. The reason for several techniques is that each person is different and some people may respond better to one technique than another. The student is to find the one that works best for him or her. The following steps are followed to introduce the SPC techniques:

    The Lemon Demonstration - To get across the power of thought to produce automatic responses the students are put through first the Lemon and then the Arms demonstrations. For the "lemon" have the students vividly imagine biting into a very sour, tart and tangy lemon. After a moment of this the mouth should automatically start watering. Ask for a show of hand as to how many found their mouths automatically watering.
    The Arms Demonstration - ask the students to extend their arms slightly above eye level and to close their eyes. Then have them imagine a huge helium filled balloon pulling up on the left arm while the right arm is pulled down by a very heavy bucket of water held in the right hand. After a few moments of this have them open their eyes and see where their and the other students arms are. Point that the reason that one arm has been lifted up and other pulled down is the same reason why focusing on positive uplifting thoughts help us to move upwards in life and why focusing on negative heavy thoughts tend to drag us down.

Next explain that the SPC techniques are basically an extension of these two demonstrations. Each technique involves a series of suggestions like these such that each positive response increases the belief factor even more, so that at the end of this series of steps a person is going to be much more responsive to the positive thoughts or goals he wishes to program in. Belief can be defined as concentration on a thought to the exclusion of any contradictory thoughts. And the stronger the belief, the more effectively the negative contradictory thoughts will have been blocked out.

Before starting the students on the initial SPC technique, there are two steps to go through:

  1. Writing down one's goals; and
  2. Learning now to effectively program in one's goals.
IV. Goals:

All students should begin by writing down a list of goals (positive changes) they wish to achieve with the program. For this follow the guidelines on pages 52-54 of TGFH. It is recommended that the students keep a Progress Report notebook with these goals listed and rated in the beginning of the report and periodically indicate how they are doing on these goals. The best goal to start with is stress control. Stress control will help with clearing up a host of stress-related problems (see pages 53 & 54 and 125-137).

V. Self-Programming:

When you reach the last step of an SPC technique your mind is going to be most receptive to your positive goal. At this point you are ready to program in your goal. The best way to do so is through visualization. For instance, for the goal of stress control you would want to visualize yourself or imagine yourself in a typical stressful situation reacting calmly or able to automatically calm yourself down. For instance, you could see yourself going through one of the breathing techniques on the back of the card and turning the card blue. Different variations of self-programming can be found on pages 43-51 of TGFH. Students should set aside a specific time of day for daily self-programming of their goals. "Morning" people (those who are most alert in the morning) can choose shortly after they have awakened; "night" people, shortly before going to sleep; or whatever other time of the day is most convenient.

VI. The Pendulum Technique

By this point all students should have made a foot long pendulum. Spools of thread and paper clips are handed out for this purpose. The complete pendulum technique along with the 20-10 countdown shortcut technique can be found on pages 36-38 of chapter III of TGFH. It involves a series of suggested automatic ideomotor movements of the pendulum, hand and arm. At the end of the series students can then program in the goal they wish (initially the stress control goal).

Other SPC techniques also found in Chapter III can be introduced in time. For most students the Pendulum, Spiral and Garden techniques should be more than sufficient, but a total of seven techniques are available if needed. Also found in Chapter III are a variety of Self-Programming techniques that are available as needed.

VII. Other General Goals of Importance:

Before going on to the next SPC technique you want to discuss some additional key goals (besides stress control) that the program has been very effective with and how to best go about achieving them. Tell the students that as these are presented they can add those they relate to, to their list of goals.

  1. Breaking Free of Bad Habits & Addictions.

    There are three major benefits of the program that play a key role allowing people to more easily break free of even the most difficult bad habits and addictions. (This includes drugs, alcohol, smoking, and weight problems):

    1. Development of Greater Willpower,
    2. Stress Control, and
    3. Providing More Constructive Sources of Pleasure.

    A weakness in one or more of these areas underlies most addictions. Greater sources of constructive pleasure develop as the student becomes more successful in various areas of life that are focused on in the program such as school, work and relationships (see for instance Chapters V, VI, VII & VIII). See page 199 of TGFH for seeing how effective the program has been for breaking addictions.

  2. Greater Health & Wellness.

    There are three major areas of health that SPC can be especially helpful with. Two have already been discussed – the Stress Diseases and Bad Habits & Addictions. The third is immune-deficiency diseases including cancer. The SPC mind-body approach to preventing and curing cancer (see Chapter VII) is based on the premise that

    1. the body has natural defenses against cancer and that certain psychological factors, in particular hopelessness, can interfere with these defenses; and
    2. the SPC program can eliminate these psychological factors.

    The latter includes eliminating bad cancer causing habits like smoking and in particular, eliminating two major sources of hopelessness. Present some of the evidence to support these claims (e.g. case histories).

  3. Positive Mental Attitudes.

    Point out that by systematically incorporating the set of positive attitudes presented in Chapter IV of TGFH students will further insure achieving many of their goals since many of these goals will most likely be influenced by these positive attitudes. Stress Control is a perfect example. How much stress is produced by a particular situation is often determined by your attitude in that situation. The more positive your attitude, the less stressed you will be. The instructor can use plenty of examples – those presented in Chapter IV, from his own life, or from the students' lives – to illustrate how valuable these attitudes can be. The students can then program in whichever attitudes are most pertinent during their daily self-programming sessions.

VIII. The Spiral Technique.

For leading the students through this technique you will need the DVD of the Spiral. Make sure each student has a specific goal in mind ready to program in. For the initial presentation of the Spiral the student can continue with stress control as the goal but you might want to have him now tie it in with some other specific goal that is itself related to stress. It could be breaking free of a bad habit like smoking, or overeating or drinking, etc. Or for school students it could be exam anxiety. Or it could be anger control, or it cold be certain people that stress you out. Or you may want to program in one of the positive attitudes that will lessen stress. Choose one or two goals. Don’t try to program everything in all at once.

IX. Expansion of Mental Capacity.

One of the reasons students taking the SPC class in schools were able to have such a high degree of success breaking free of their addictions was because of the greater satisfaction they were getting from doing so much better in school. They now did not have to rely that much on their addictions for pleasure.

The three factors provided by SPC that lead to greater school performance are: Greater Self-Efficacy (greater belief in one's capabilities; Greater Emotional Intelligence (greater ability to reduce stress and anxiety); and learning to learn, memory, and test-taking techniques. We have already touched upon the first two of these factors. Now we will present an introduction to the latter.

Memory Learning & Test-Taking Techniques. Students are introduced to this section by being told that one of the secrets to successful students' success in school is that they have somewhere along the way learned all the shortcuts to memory, learning and test-taking – all the "tricks of the trade". Why do something the hard way when there are easier ways. We begin by introducing two memory techniques that quickly get across the idea that if you know the right technique you too can be a "memory genius".

    The Numbers Techniques. Start by writing the following number on the blackboard, 19452001555975414952345. Then tell the students you will now show them a technique that will allow them to memorize such a number in a matter of seconds, "something only a genius could do". Proceed with showing them the grouping and association technique for memorizing this number – outlined on page 179 of TGFH. Immediate testing to see how many were able to get the number correctly (usually a 95% success rate) should provide some good immediate feedback.
    The Names Techniques. Next introduce them to the association technique for remembering names and have them memorize the names of all the students in the class. See page 180 of TGFH.

Demonstrations like these should whet the students' appetites for even more memory and for learning techniques. Eventually you can introduce them to some of the additional memory techniques discussed on pages 180-184, but now would be a good time to introduce them to the SQ3R study technique discussed on page 185.

    The SQ3R technique. This is one of the most effective and easy to learn study techniques ever devised. When you introduce this technique to school students, be sure to follow it immediately with an in class SQ3R assignment using a chapter of one of the texts for any of the courses you are currently teaching them. The assignment would be immediately followed by a quiz made up of questions from the SQ3R procedure itself. The very positive results will then act as immediate positive feedback further reinforcing the students’ new found belief in their learning capabilities.
    Test-Taking Techniques. See pages 186-192 for a number of such techniques including multiple choice, essay, and problem solving exams.
X. The Garden Technique.

You can end this introductory session with this technique. It is especially effective with students who have a vivid imagination. Again, students should have a goal in mind to program in before you proceed. The audio CD of the SPC techniques can be used very effectively to introduce this technique.


For SPC to be most effective it should be practiced over a period of time. Regular weekly meetings/classes of 1-2 hours each for 6-8 weeks would be ideal for insuring this continued practice. The following procedure is recommended for subsequent sessions:

  1. Begin by having different people in the group relate their progress thus far. This type of positive feedback will help to build further belief in the program especially for those students who may still remain skeptical.

  2. Discuss any questions or difficulties encountered in following the program. If you aren’t quite sure yourself of the answer, ask if someone in the group has an answer.

  3. You can go over a different section of the book at each subsequent session.

  4. You can end each session by having the group go through one or two of the SPC techniques to either reinforce the goal they are currently working on and/or add in some of the things learned in this subsequent session.

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