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Psychotherapy Networker

Therapy is a Craft

A photo of a group conducting psychotherapy.

A photo of a group conducting psychotherapy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a graduate student, I chose to go to a big name university to study clinical psychology.  What I didn’t know (until I got there and learned what kind of research the psychology professors did) was that they taught that psychotherapy and psychological evaluations were all bunk unless their processes could be broken down into scientifically measurable procedures that could be applied by anyone scientifically trained  and thus measured for outcome.  Yes, I read the recommended books and reports of applicable psychological experiments; but there were areas of clinical work that I didn’t have a clue about how to do them.  When I reached the point in my training where I went for  experiential training in a mental health clinic,  I found out that there were qualities and intuitive behaviors of mental health clinicians that had not been scientifically measured and replicated and therefore could not be proven  effective that were successful.

That was how I learned that psychotherapy was an art and psychotherapists were artists or better yet craftsmen.  It was a privilege to observe these people work their magic.  Scientists were hard put to describe or replicate this magic process.  An interesting article in the current edition of The Psychotherapy Networker  talks about the clinician as a craftsman.  I also realized when in postdoctoral training were I was training medical students that they had to observe my interview of someone behind a one way mirror and then ask me questions about what I did and how I did it.  I did not completely know ahead of time what I would say and do; but if they questioned about how or why I said or did something after the interview, I could usually tell them even if I didn’t know this information ahead of time.

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