The benefits of doubt: New research on becoming a more effective therapist

Posted on December 12, 2015

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Researchers are finally beginning to understand what it takes to improve the effectiveness of psychotherapy. Shifting away from the failed, decades-long focus on methods and diagnosis, attention has now turned to the individual practitioner.

Such efforts have already shown a host of factors to be largely ineffective in promoting therapist growth and development, including:

Supervision. Supervision is at the top of the list of experiences therapists cite as central to their growth and development as practitioners. By contrast, the latest review of the literature concludes, “We do not seem to be any more able to say now (as opposed to 30 years ago) that psychotherapy supervision contributes to patient outcome”.

Therapist personal therapy. Therapist personal therapy is ranked as one of the most important sources of professional development despite there being no evidence it contributes to better performance as a clinician and some studies documenting a negative impact on outcome.

Continuing education. Although most clinicians value participating in continuing education activities—and licensure requirements mandate attendance—there is no evidence such events engender learning, competence, or improved outcomes.

But there is hope yet: Doubt, it turns out, is a good thing–a quality possessed by the fields’ most effective practitioners. Possessing it is one of the clues to continuous professional development. Indeed, several studies now confirm that “healthy self-criticism,” or professional self-doubt (PSD), is a strong predictor of both alliance and outcome in psychotherapy.

The “over-claiming error” - a type of confidence that comes from feeling that one has seen something before when in fact untrue - is subtle, unconscious, and fantastically easy to succumb to and elicit. In essence, feeling like an expert actually makes it difficult to separate what we do and do not know. Interestingly, people with the most knowledge in a particular domain (e.g., psychotherapy) are at the greatest risk. Researchers term the phenomenon, “The ‘Earned Dogmatism’ Effect.”

Read the full article by Scott D. Miller at the link below.


Category(s):Mental Health Professions

Source material from Scott D. Miller


Mental Health News