Here is Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, on the importance of what’s not going to change:
I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one…
I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time…
While Jeff Bezos  is talking about business in his example, let’s extrapolate the principle and make it relevant to our field of psychotherapy. In this article, I’m going to talk about
1. What is Changing,
2. What is Not Changing, and
3. A Crisis Requires Us to Be Reliable.
What is Changing.
A crisis doesn’t necessarily change everything; A crisis accelerates the future and highlight humanity’s pre-existing needs.
All of us in the helping profession and other professionals are doing our best to adapt to this new COVID-19 era. We figure how to use Zoom, how to engage with clients on the phone without visual feedback, etc.
While we adapt to the sea-change, we need to keep our eyes on the long view. We must figure out a way to support people through these precarious times, but we must also begin this contemplative process of reinventing our roles—without losing our souls—that is called for in this accelerated future brought forth by this crisis.
Will we simply continue only see people in the comforts of our office because you can’t do play therapy over Zoom, or you can’t do EMDR over on teleconference? Will we now only see clients via video conference? The real question is, will we be willing to redefine our role and contribution to the larger society, and not just for the ones who show up for individual therapy? Where is our place in this world?
What is Not Changing.
When we are bombarded with ads on social networks by on what’s new and changing in psychotherapy land—what’s the latest and greatest—therapists are more likely to attend workshops and training about the latest neuroscience, trauma-focused or mindfulness approach, and less likely to attend a workshop on say, improving engagement, even though piles of evidence show factors like goal consensus, feeling understood and tapping into client’s existing resources are more potent in reaping better outcomes with our clients than the typical stuff we spend our money on. Now, we might be wrong about some of the theories we have today . But let us not lose our gaze on the perennial matters, the stuff that will stand the test of time.
That said, we are seeing more and more therapists paying attention to their own intuition—and their own clinical data— of what they need to work on. These minority of therapists are going to lead the majority of us to a better place, a place with better yield of our efforts translating into better outcomes for our clients.
- Pour your efforts into your development vessel on elements that will actually move the needle on your outcomes, and not on your preferred solutions.
- Pour your energy on the timeless factors that matters to people seeking your help. (read the following posts to get an idea on what might be the key factors to work on to improve your effectiveness, and how to identify your growth edge.)
Mastery Learning for Therapists: Figure Out the What Before the How
A System of Practice
6 Visuals About Our Progress
The Music of Psychotherapy: Learning in a Wicked Environment
Circle of Development
- Don’t pour away your efforts just on the “timely” stuff. Stand firm, and play the long game; drip by drip.
- Don’t squander these times away. Seize it by taking a moment to contemplate your reimagined role as a therapist in your community. You don’t need to be that fireman that runs up the stairs to saves lives and lose your own. But we certainly need to think about what we can bring to the table for people who can benefit from your unique, and maybe even idiosyncratic gifts. The world doesn’t need another off-the-shelf therapist. The world needs you, who is a therapist.
A Crisis Requires Us to Be Reliable
Rebecca Solnit’s book “Paradise Made in Hell” reminds me that we have the capacity to come together in times of devastation. (Also look up the Facebook, Kindness Pandemic).
I can still see this picture vividly in my mind. It was a picture of one person. Against the backdrop of people running down the stairwell, a fireman was running up in the opposite direction. He was in one of the twin towers on 9/11.
You don’t necessarily need to be that fireman that runs up the stairs to save lives and lose your own. But we certainly need to think about what we can bring to the table for people who can benefit from your unique, and maybe even idiosyncratic gifts.
While we adapt to the current changing landscape, we must also keep our eyes on what’s not going to change.
The words of German philosopher Hannah Arendt regarding the ethnics of doubt matters in these times:
Even if there is no truth, man can be truthful, and even if there is no reliable certainty, man can be reliable.
May you experience in the coming future, the pay-off of your deliberate practice efforts as you work on the timeless factors of therapy. Don’t go it alone. Reach out.
 For more, watch this interview with Jeff Bezos.
 Half-Life of Facts by Samuel Arbesman.