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Without clarity of direction, we wouldn’t know if our efforts amount to much. It’s like rolling a bowling ball towards the 10-pin covered by a veil. You can only hazard a guess for a strike.
More problematic, while we are trying to sort out which way to “go” in our professional development efforts, most of us don’t even know where we are to begin with.
Try giving directions to someone without knowing where they are.
When I was in the army (a 2.5yr mandatory service for all males), we had to go through a topography/navigation course. Basically, they taught us a bunch of stuff while we were half-asleep from exhaustion, and then the officers took us into the jungle to flex our skills. Armed with a bottle of water (and other unnecessary weaponry), a complicated topographic map and a compass, we were given the following mission: Get from point A to Z before sundown. Much to my embarrassment, I didn’t know how to use a map with a compass! I knew where’s North from here…but where the heck am I?
In order to know which way to go, we need to know where you are at. And when someone needs direction, don’t give the person a map. Our field is infamous for giving people all kinds of maps. Teach a person how to navigate.
If you have your fingers on the pulse, you’d know that there’s been a rise on the topic of deliberate practice in psychotherapy. This may be a good thing. But I worry that supervisors and therapists alike might think that all they got to do is “deliberate practice” in the specific models that they are aligned with. Worse, I worry that DP becomes another “silver bullet” method.
The truth is, when we surveyed therapists, many admittedly feel embarrassed for not knowing what to do in order to improve. There isn’t one map for deliberate practice. In a sense, we need to learn to be cartographers, and shape our professional development landscape, based on our personal learning needs. It takes a certain fierceness and focus to confront this reality, and move towards the pathway of professional development with compassion.
To get to point A to Z, the most important step is to figure out how to get from Point A to B. And what’s that? That’s to ask ourselves some important and personal questions:
“How do I begin to measure my effectiveness?”
“How effective am I?”
“What does my current baseline hint at what I need to do to get better?”
Begin with these questions with you and your supervisees. This is a good place to begin your deliberate practice plan.
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