Interact Journal Integrative Ideas for the Process-Oriented Psychotherapist

Categories Supervision Dialogs

On being dumb

I hate being a slow learner. I feel so dumb.

Accept that you are dumb. We are all dumb. The sooner you understand that you do not know anything, the better psychotherapist you will be.

As far as I know, wisdom is knowing that you do not know. The more you understand you know almost nothing, the more competent you will be. You will not spend your time trying to understand everything. You can let go of thinking that your knowing is important and instead, invite the client to discover whatever there is to know.

But if I don’t know anything, how can I know what to do in session?

If knowing what to do means being sure that what you are about to do will create positive change, you cannot. You cannot change people; you cannot fix them. You cannot know what is right or wrong for them or why their life is working or not. You can only make guesses. Once you have accepted that you do not know anything and that you cannot know, with certainty what to do, here is what to do in session:

Direct their attention back to themselves.

For example if someone says, “My mother hates me, I lost my job, my dog died and nobody likes me, what should I do,” shrug your mental shoulders, think, “I don’t know,” and say,

“Pay attention to your body right now, what do you notice? (What’s going on?)”

“Listen to your internal dialogue. What are the different parts of you saying you should do? Let’s explore that. I suspect that when these parts agree on a solution – that’s what you should do.” ¯

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