Clinicians Note

Ryan Howes, PhD is a clinical psychologist in California who has completed a fascinating project in which he interviewed 14 prominent psychotherapists and asked them 7 questions. (His blog, “In Therapy” can be found at Psychology Today.)

The project is something clinicians might find inspiring and quite thought provoking. Click here to see the list of 7 questions and the links that lead to responses from: Irving Yalom, Harriet Lerner, Thomas Szasz, John Gray, Donald Meichenbaum, David Beck, and more.

It’s been so interesting to read some of the responses. One that made me sit back and take notice was something David Burns, PhD, renowned cognitive therapist, said when he was describing his ongoing effort to revitalize his therapeutic skill set. Apparently he has devised a therapist rating scale, which his clients fill out after every single session, measuring items such as: Empathy, Helpfulness, Satisfaction, and well as negative feelings aroused by the session.

Burns further elaborates:

“Although most therapists believe that they are warm, caring, and effective, most are shocked to discover that they get failing grades from practically every patient at every session when they first begin using these scales. This is extremely shocking to novice as well as advanced therapists. However, with training, therapists can learn to transform those therapeutic failures into tremendous breakthroughs, and over time, their ratings begin to soar.

Learning to accept failure on multiple levels is, to my way of thinking, the key to become a world-class therapist. But that means humility, and setting your ego aside, while you develop superb new technical skills.”

I love this.

I think it’s invaluable information for all clinicians. I think we must remain mindful of the awesome responsibility we carry with our work. We should never become so complacent that we lose sight of the prevailing and sometimes intimidating need for personal and professional growth.

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