Most of us find it easier to question ourselves on those intriguing topics we know we don’t understand, that we stumble onto with confusion, uncertainty, and doubt.
The harder but more helpful work is to question ourselves about our casual certainties. What have we taken for granted and accepted without challenge? Nothing can be placed off limits for this questioning. Certainties are hard to give up, especially when they feel like they are part of who we are. They become landmarks, helping us make sense of the world, guiding our steps. But perhaps an always-reliable theoretical orientation begins distorting our view of a new patient, leading us to interventions that make things worse. Or having always prided ourselves on the soundness of our psychological evaluations, we keep rereading our draft report in a case in which an unbiased description of our findings may bring about a tragic injustice, harming many innocent people, and begin to wonder if our feelings for the client led us to shade the truth. Or the heart of our internship has been the supervision, and we’ve made it a point to tell the supervisor everything important about every patient, except about getting so turned on with that one patient, the one who is not very vulnerable at all and does not really need therapy, the one we keep having fantasies of asking out after waiting a reasonable time after termination and then, if all goes well, proposing to. Questioning our certainties means seeking out and listening respectfully to those who disagree with us and engaging them in openly exchanging views. It means actively searching out articles and books that challenge– and sometimes attack– our assumptions, beliefs, and practices. We must follow this questioning wherever it leads, even if we venture into territories that some might view as politically incorrect or– much harder for most of us–“psychologically incorrect”