Shaking the Tree of Psychotherapy – On Intuition and Spontaneity


I am both pleased and surprised that “throw-ins” are confirmed as the metaphorical bread and butter of the counseling profession.  (Corsini & Wedding, 2011)  I am a huge proponent of both intuition and spontaneity.  It feels more genuine than the robotic process that strictly “following the plan” requires.  It reminds me of my experience in the Intensive Residential Treatment Center (IRTC) at a local hospital.  Their process, while proven, is totally scripted.  Ideally, there is no deviation from the process… there is consistent treatment of every youth regardless of their current situation, condition, or circumstance.  The process left very little room for interpretation, and even less room for “throw-ins.”  To the point, I can’t work like that.

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There are some helping professionals who prefer to work in a structured environment like that… I would compare them to members of a symphony orchestra.  They read the music off the sheet, and when it comes together… it is a work of art.  I, on the other hand, am more like a jazz musician… give me a beat and let me improvise… you can keep your sheet music.  Although having a theoretical base is as important as knowing your scales and arpeggios (to continue the music analogy), I would much prefer to make use of that technical knowledge on the fly.  I left that position feeling like a jazz musician in the middle of a symphony… I just didn’t fit.  It would suffice to say that I am impressed that Corsini and Wedding (2011) can appreciate that perspective.

From my perspective, psychotherapy is an art with scientific roots.  Of course research is needed and appreciated… but someone has to apply it, or customize it, to individual circumstances.  Of course, when my approach fails (and inevitably it will) I will need to go back and shake the tree of science to see what fruit it yields.  In the end, I am perfectly content with deciding how I eat the fruit, and when.

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Reference

Corsini, R. J., & Wedding, D. (2011). Current psychotherapies (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

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