Sunday, April 26, 2009

More on "not knowing"

I have been slowly making my way through Mindful Therapy: A Guide for Therapists and Helping Professionals by Thomas Bien. I have mixed feelings about the book, but every so often I come upon some passages that seem quite relevant to me. This is one of them:
An attitude of not knowing is, I believe, extremely valuable for the mindful therapist, as it is in Buddhist practice. When you think you know, you stop being open. Not knowing helps us remain open to the patient before us, seeing this person as a unique individual in a unique situation rather than another 'case' of depression, or anxiety, or marital difficulties. Not knowing, while the opposite attitude from what we learned in our education, is our best friend in the therapy room. The wise therapist respects not knowing, is comfortable with it, and even cultivates it. We cannot understand if we think we already know. And to know you don't know, taught Confucius, is the beginning of knowing. (p. 138)
I write a lot about uncertainty. It seems an integral part of my work. I've also written about the state of "I don't know" and about getting lost

I suppose it all boils down to different ways of acknowledging, with some humility, that we music therapists often don't know, in a session, what's best, what's going on, and how to proceed. But we are present, and we trust the process and the music.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Right on, Roia. Too much certainty makes me suspicious. I wouldn't know how to relate to someone who has it all figured out!