Wisdom in professional knowledge: Why it can be valuable to listen to the voices of senior psychotherapists

To explore the nature of professional wisdom, through learning from the experiences of a group of highly experienced senior therapists


Method: Twelve senior psychotherapists took part in qualitative in-depth interviews about their professional role and their views around a range of aspects of therapy theory and practice. Interview transcripts were subjected to thematic analysis.

Results: The analysis yielded nine wisdom themes, clustered within three domains. Each domain represented efforts to resolve dilemmas arising from the experience of being a therapist, around the use of theory in psychotherapy practice, the type of therapeutic relationship that is most helpful for clients, and the experience of therapeutic failure.

Conclusions: Therapist wisdom can be viewed as a form of contextualized knowledge, which functions as a source of emergent insights that arise as responses to the limitations of prevailing ways of thinking. Research into the nature of therapist wisdom draws attention to sources of knowledge within philosophy and the humanities that have the potential to enhance therapy practice and contribute to our understanding of therapist expertise.

Psychotherapy Research, 2017, 1-17,  doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10503307.2016.1265685

Published Jan. 23, 2017 7:00 AM