Challenging What You Believe
Last night I had the pleasure of attending a group meeting at which Martin S. Taylor was the guest speaker. Martin is famed for having taught Derren Brown in the art of stage hypnosis in his early years and from hearing his story, is one of the few people I know in the business that hasn’t come into hypnosis as a second career.
One of the over arching things to come out of the couple of hours we spent with Martin is that we must continue to challenge what we believe. Martin used a couple of somewhat humorous examples to illustrate this philosophy. In the middle ages, farmers believed that they must go into the fields in Winter and by the light of a full moon, spread ox blood on their fields. Without it they believed that their crops would fail. In Victorian times, clinicians believed the best treatment for anaemia was blood letting. Of course both examples we would consider to be barking mad today. But, taking the first example, someone, somewhere had to have said “What if I don’t spread the blood”? Perhaps it was a farmer that hadn’t been able to get into his fields through ill health or perhaps it was someone who couldn’t get hold of any ox blood. When the crops subsequently failed to fail, that would have led to that individuals belief being challenged.
Challenging one’s beliefs is a subject I’ve posted on before. Any course of psychological therapy involves change of one sort or another, thus must challenge the beliefs of the client. But, what last night’s presentation highlighted very eloquently that we as therapists must continue to challenge our own beliefs! We must be prepared to listen to the ideas of others in our respective fields and ultimately be prepared for beliefs we hold dear to be proven wrong. Becoming entrenched in our own beliefs leads to a certain rigidity in practice and certainly one becomes rather stale in one’s approach tot he various presenting complaints we are asked to address in our daily practice. Certainly, we have trained to a high degree, but should we take what we learnt in training as read just because that was the perceived wisdom at the time? Certainly not. If we notice that something doesn’t sit quite right with what we have been taught then we must be prepared to investigate further and find out why.
We learn and progress from our mistakes. So too, do we learn and progress from constantly challenging what we believe in.