Shame (noun \ˈshām\): Consciousness of shortcoming, guilt, or impropriety.
Turns out, for many therapists, this powerful and painful emotion is a significant barrier to professional development.
Doing psychotherapy is challenging in the best of circumstances. As many as 25% of clients drop out before experiencing a measureable improvement in their functioning. Of those who do continue, between 40 to 50% will end no different than when they started. And finally, 8 to 10% deteriorate while in care.
Faced with the realities of clinical practice, it’s easy for practitioners to feel they are forever falling short of their own and others hopes and expectations. Some respond with self-serving resignation: “It’s just not possible to help some people.” Others, research indicates, deceive themselves, either seeing progress where there is none or overestimating their effectiveness. Most, it is clear, struggle with the deep sense of responsibility they have assumed for relieving mental and emotional suffering.
As just one example, consider psychologist Tony Rousmaniere. Early on in his career, Tony started using a couple of simple tools to track the quality and outcome of his work. The data he gathered shook him to the core, “I was helping far fewer people than I’d thought–50% fewer!” And while his results were no different than the outcome of most, he recalls instantly thinking, “I can’t let anyone know this!”
“If you want to improve,” Tony says, “You have to embrace the facts. It’s not about humiliation, but rather humility. Simply put, we are not as effective as we think we are. Even the most effective among us, fail about a third of the time. But, in those failures lies the key to success.”
In his new book, Deliberate Practice for Therapists, Tony describes, in deeply personal and moving terms, his efforts to become a more effective therapist. He draws on the latest research on expertise and expert performance, providing a blueprint all clinicians can use to improve and fine-tune their performance via deliberate practice.
Earlier this month, I interviewed Tony about his journey and the new book. His honesty, transparency, and sage advice are inspiring. You’ll find the video below.
In the meantime, get hands on experience with deliberate practice this summer by signing up for the FIT Professional Development Intensive. For more information or to register, simply click the icon under my name. Hope to see you there!
Until then, best wishes,