What Is the New Wisdom?

When you ask a therapist about the single quality that distinguishes the young clinician from a weathered old pro who’s seen and heard it all, the answer is likely to have something to do with wisdom. It’s a word with enormous resonance that seems to get at the heart of what psychotherapy is all about. But what do therapists actually know about wisdom? Clinical theories, techniques, how to fill out insurance forms—sure, we know a lot about those things. But wisdom?

As usual, consulting the dictionary is of little help in clarifying matters. It tells us that wisdom is “sound judgment.” When we conjure up an image of the truly wise, however, we usually put together a set of related characteristics that go beyond that, like patience, understanding born of experience, long-range vision, and the capacity to put aside personal desire in the interest of the greater good. Truth be told, those qualities aren’t something most of us encounter regularly. After all, if you look at the state of our world today, an oversupply of collective wisdom doesn’t rank high among our global traits.

Despite the discouraging state of affairs in the world at large, at the Networker, we’re convinced that a New Wisdom is emerging in our field—a convergence of ancient knowledge traditions and modern science that’s extending our understanding and skills in ways that few of us could have envisioned not so long ago. What was once merely “the talking cure” has been deepened and enriched by developments in brain science, somatic psychotherapy, mindfulness practices, human-performance research, the coaching field, and the systematic study of the role emotional connection plays in our lives. We’ll be exploring this new vision of what Andrew Weil has called Integrative Mental Health further in future blogs, but for now, I just want to list some of the key questions shaping the psychotherapy of the future, which we’ll be exploring in 2012 at this year’s Symposium, in the Networker magazine, and in our upcoming webcasts.

--Does our expanded understanding of the brain make us any wiser? 

--What role, if any, should spirituality play in psychotherapy?

--How is our increasing appreciation of the mind-body connection changing the skills required of a good psychotherapist?

--How can the science of expertise teach us to be more effective?

--What have we learned collectively about the art and science of optimal well-being and how best to apply it in our practices and in our lives?

As our various anniversaries approach this year—35 years for the Symposium and 30 for the Networker magazine—we look forward to exploring with you these and other key issues shaping our profession. To be sure, one of the consolations of aging is the knowledge that you’re not only getting older, but wiser.  It also helps to not have to do it alone. We look forward to your company as we explore throughout the coming year the growing evidence that our profession is gaining in wisdom.
01.17.2012   Posted In: Symposium 2012   By Rich Simon
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  • 0 avatar neil mulholland 01.17.2012 15:02
    Dear Folks
    Where in this 'new wisdom' paradigm of psychotherapy is the importance of what the research states as most important:
    the enhancement of the therapeutic relationship?
    Thanks, Neil M.
  • Not available avatar Mary Workman, LPC 01.31.2012 14:06
    With all due respect..It feels quite disrespectful to the profession to announce, "Thank goodness, a "New Vision" from Dr. Weil" that is going to bring about more productivity and successful treatment options for example, depression and anxiety. These are not new and not only known to Dr. Weil. In fact, a great deal of decade after decade of "new thinking", "new ideas" from many, originate back to Aristotle's time period. How about focusing on the value for example of multi-disciplinary approach programs. Also, techniques and skills to succeed in reaching through all political barriers to obtain support and funding for such. Or, how about education of those who have control of the funding by packaging all Dr. Weil's new visions, and selling them to community, government, insurance company programs to create their belief and commitment to the power of early intervention and prevention for families and their collaterals so we can do our work. Again, all due respect for Dr. Weil. However, folks need an easier pathway in which to gain and maintain access to all health programs....medical, mental, physical, wholistic, spiritual, etc.; a sustaining relationship. Rather than "new visions" which will spin the wheels deeper with no more progress, we need to focus how to successfully get HUGE obstacles out of the way so folks can get to us and we can do our work long term. M. Workman, LPC
  • 0 avatar Carson Boston 12.07.2017 09:21
    Thanks a lot for this article and I certainly want to Read more about the entire concept. Wisdom is certainly the ability to make a sound decision without one having to second-doubt his abilities.
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