The benefit of not knowing.

Most therapies call for the client to ‘transcend their ego’ in some manner. The psychoanalytic schools also invite the therapist to transcend their own knowings by inviting them to embrace a ‘not knowing’ stance 

The not-knowing stance is not a denial of the therapist’s knowledge but a bracketing of its certainty; it is a respectful tentativeness that assumes that the client, and not the therapist, is the foremost expert on their own life. The therapist is free to bring their thoughts and ideas to the conversation but always offers such comments as food for thought.

The not-knowing position entails a general attitude or stance in which the therapist’s actions communicate an abundant, genuine curiosity.  That is, the therapist’s actions and attitudes express a need to know more about what has been said, rather than convey preconceived opinions and expectations about the client, problem, or what must be changed. 

This comes in contrast to the social and cultural pressure to pursue certainty at the cost of our sense of self and personal growth. The desire for certainty can feel like a dangerous addiction. Like alcohol, it may make us feel safe, but it is also creates a form of numbness, and detachment from our environments.

Few notions have become as deeply embedded in our culture as the belief that there is a perfect certainty to be had – and the desire to have it. This can prove to be tricky in the not knowing space we might try to explore in therapy – but siting with our thoughts in a non judgmental space can allow us to find a more authentic form of thought and the freedom to be ourselves without the constraints we may have enforced on our lives.

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