A Short List of Virtues Recommended For Psychotherapists
Mic Hunter, Psy.D,
William Percy, Ph.D., and
Charme Davidson, Ph.D.Some are not born hard.
A true psychologist,
like an artist,
must love his palette.
Perhaps more kindness,
more patience was needed.
Do I strip before teaching how to weave new clothing?
Have I taught him "freedom from"
without teaching "freedom for"?
(Yalom, 1992, p. 253
Clinical practice involves spending hour after hour in the presence of the wounded of our society. Each day a parade of the depressed, anxious, anguished, bewildered, distraught, and disturbed pass by. How is one to cope with witnessing this stream of misery year after year? Each year dozens of books and hundreds of articles describe and advocate various techniques and types of psychotherapy. It seems that with each year that passes a "new" therapy is created. In 1960 we managed to survive with a mere sixty different forms of psychotherapy. During the next fifteen years the National Institute of Mental Health (1975) identified 130 different forms of therapy. It took only five more years till Herink (1980) noted there were over 250 different therapies. A mere six years later there were over 400 available therapies, which prompted Garfield to jest, "Needless to say, if this rate of increase continues, at some point we will have a different form of psychotherapy for every person in the United States" (1989, p. 19).
Rather than propose a "new" school of therapy or even technique we shall examine those virtues that we believe are necessary for the psychotherapist who desires to be an effective agent of change, as well as a person who is able to obtain satisfaction from interactions with even extremely troubled patients.