During psychotherapy, clinical intuition plays a critical role because it fills the gap that exists between theory and practice. Simply put, clinical intuition is what represents the self-organizing, emergent as well as dimensions of psychotherapy, which matches moment-to-moment intervention with the response.
If approached from a dynamical point of view, then the combination of a therapist and a patient is able to organize itself even to the edge of chaos; a point where the dyad normally faces the real threat breakdown to allow for the navigation of the spontaneous breakthrough very complex structure.
It is important to understand the interpersonal neurology of hidden relational knowing, which originates from the basic foundations of your sensation, imagery and emotion.
Typically, clinicians normally possess two basic modes during the moment-to-moment dynamics of any psychotherapy session with a patient. In fact, it is these two primary modes – clinical deliberation and clinical intuition – are what enable clinicians to perceive and respond to their patients.
Yes, it is true that clinical research as well as theory and didactic teaching techniques are appropriate to clinical deliberation. However, only direct relational experience, particularly clinical immersion with patients helps when it comes to accumulation of clinical intuition.
Even though the topic of clinical intuition is seldom researched or discussed in colleges and university settings, the very topic usually emerges at some stages in supervision, and in more often than not, it is discussed using hush tones. According to Goleman, 1997, clinical intuition is simply a form of emotional and social intelligence, which leads to a very strong, lasting working alliance.
If you are a clinician then you need to know that it is through clinical intuition that you will be able to detect the relational patterns in your patients and respond to them appropriately. Furthermore, you will be able to see the relational patterns in yourself so that you can be able to respond to them as well.
As a clinician, you need to be able to know and feel into other people’s mind. In this way, you will be able to perceive relational patterns very easily within a healing context. Like all other mammals, we have the instincts to not only bond and nurture other animals, but also to care for others through emotional circuits. Such ability gives you the empathetic tools to enable you think and even feel your way into your patients’ minds. In fact, clinical intuition is not separable from parental instincts, which is usually shared by all social mammals. So, it is very necessary that all clinicians train their intuitive skills.
Clinical intuition is totally attuned to the autonomic nervous system of the body, which usually regulates a person’s arousal that is responsible for reading the internal states of the body. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that clinical intuition is able to reach the form of both gut feelings and empathy.
A clinician usually looks for somatic signals that can clue them into the insight of other people’s consciousness. For instance, a knot in a patient’s stomach might signal a psychotherapist that the patient is experiencing dysregulated anger or an ache in his chest. Furthermore, this can also signal dysregulated grief. If you ask any professional psychotherapist who has plenty of experience in clinical intuition, they will tell you that somatic symptoms like the ones I have mentioned are usually common in cases of a patient’s unconscious emotion that patients cannot get access to yet.
If approached from brain’s perspective, there are two aspects of empathy. First, there is the emotional aspect of empathy. This aspect mainly involves cognition effect. In other words, it is where a therapist shares an attenuated version of how the patient feels and vice versa.
Secondly, there is the cognition effect. This aspect simply involves mentalizing. In simple terms, it is where by a clinician and the patient understands each other cognitively. This ensures that there is a mutual cognitive understanding of the mind of a patient, while you simultaneously pay attention to the difference between you and the patient. In fact, balancing the understanding and the differences is very important. Otherwise, emotional resonance might run too high, which might result into personal distressful. When this happens, it will interfere with the capacity of true empathy (Decety, 2011).
Sometimes, a clinician burnout coupled with compassion fatigue shows that there is imbalance, especially where a therapist’s body becomes very highly resonant for the sake of a patient’s own health. Because the guts have their own brains, it is very necessary that we pay much attention to gut feelings, especially during a successful psychotherapy.
Clinical intuition is one of the most important ingredients for a great change during the sessions of psychotherapy. Actually, it is a very important element for change. Furthermore, it is a two-way traffic that not only exists, but also becomes activated in both clinicians and their patients, especially during successful therapy. Unlike theory that is normally static, clinical intuition is usually alive. It is worth noting that clinical intuition is what actually fills the gap that exists between practice and theory.
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