Whether a society is feudal, capitalist, or socialist, it needs the glue of shared values and ideas in order to coalesce and continue functioning. And it needs novelty in order to evolve. Novelty has its roots in subjective particularity. Specifically, in order to evolve society needs individuals who see what hasn’t been seen before and follow that vision.
Each psychotherapeutic modality is the result of an individual expressing their unique take on human consciousness. It’s the result of a subjective particularity that saw what had not been previously seen.
We can think of these systems/modalities as providing us with tools that guide us in our work. Our particularity encounters those who preceded us and developed these systems.
My suggestion is that as psychotherapists we consciously choose the approach that best suits our particular pattern of strengths, values, and interests. That entails acknowledging and appreciating what our unique pattern of strengths, values, and interests is.
Trying to exactly match our theoretical and tactical positions with those of the innovator runs the risk of ignoring facets of our own pattern, thus rendering our work less authentic and potent.
Currently each psychotherapeutic modality comes with the baggage inherent in its medical, academic and scientific background. That baggage is the expectation of discovering the right way to do therapy.
Consciousness is perhaps the most complex entity on the planet, and to imagine that we can find a singular answer of how to perceive and work with it is plainly a delusion.
I suggest that we put aside the medical/academic/scientific model when we think about choosing the psychotherapeutic modality we wish to align with.
Instead, consider the model provided by Schools of Art. Wikipedia lists 43 Modern Schools of Art (Cubism, Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, etc.). Fancher, in his book “The Cultures of Healing,” lists 50 psychotherapeutic modalities.
Artists formed Schools with other artists that shared their vision of art and its relation to the society of their time. They influenced, but did not try to copy each other. Each artist developed their own take on the principles that the School followed. The idea was that they would encourage each other to express their unique way of representing that particular School.
So, for the vast majority of us who are not going to develop yet another eponymous form of psychotherapy, I suggest we evaluate our strengths, interests, and values and join with others in learning and practicing a form of psychotherapy that uniquely and personally speaks to us. If that choice is Gestalt, then let’s encourage each other to be the particular kind of Gestaltist we wish to be. When we do so, we add something new and uniquely ours to the mix - something of benefit to the larger community that contributes to the evolutionary flow of our species.
Frank Rubenfeld, Ph.D. is a BAGI Trainer and Faculty Member www.frankrubenfeld.com