Clinical Practice vs. Deliberate Practice: Why Your Years of Experience Doesn’t Get You Better
In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
– American moral and social philosopher, Eric Hoffer (1973, p. 22)
Question: Would you hire this guy? Imagine an NBA basketball player decides that he doesn’t need training outside of competitions, because he has gotten so good at his game, and all he needs to do is
Many mental health professionals,
It is crucial to make a distinction between
In a study of psychotherapist practice activities, we were able to demonstrate that the among of time therapists devote to serious engagement in
Note. Error bars = standard error of the mean (SE); due to small sample size at some of the data points, the error bars are not so visible in the graph for the 2nd and 3rd Quartile
Based on the current engagement in deliberate practice, if we divide the group of therapists into four parts based on their effectiveness levels, the supershrinks (i.e., top quartile therapists) spent almost twice as more personal time than the second quartile, and 3.7 times more than the third quartile group. (We weren’t able to reliably compare with the least effective group, simply because we only had one therapist in that group who responded to the questionnaire. But just so you are curious, take a look at the table below).
Although new to the field of psychotherapy research, the mediating impact of deliberate practice has also been replicated in a variety of other studies conducted in different professional domains such as music, chess, sports, and medicine (e.g., Cote, Ericsson, & Law, 2005; Ericsson, 2007b; Ericsson et al., 1993; Gobet & Charness, 2006; Krampe & Ericsson, 1996; Mamede, Schmidt, Rikers, Penaforte, & Coelho-Filho, 2007; Norman, Eva, Brooks, & Hamstra, 2006; Schmidt & Rikers, 2007).
What’s intriguing about this study of psychotherapists is that the among of time
In case you are wondering, did the among of time spent in clinical practice predict outcomes? The answer is no. Years of clinical experience, alongside with other demographic variables such as age, gender, profession, highest qualification (that’s right) did not impact outcomes.
How do we discriminate between clinical practice and deliberate practice?
It is not a practice per se. It’s the cumulation of all our efforts to be helpful to our clients. It’s the performance part of the equation. It’s the music performance of all that deep practice.
Deliberate practice is aimed at improving your skills in a defined manner. It takes a lot of focused and deep work, but it’s designed to help you get better at your clinical practice. Here are four elements that promote deeper learning (Lehman and Ericsson, 1996):
1. Design an
2. A coach/clinical supervisor to assist you in your professional development, thus providing you an “auxiliary mind”;
3. An environment of immediate feedback, &
4. Repetition/successive refinement.
I will be talking about each of these in future posts.
Do not get confused when you work hard at your clinical practice as a short-hand for working hard at deliberate practice. I do subscribe to Donald Schon’s seminal idea
This is the cycle of clinical practice and deliberate practice. You learn all that you can, and when you enter into the therapeutic realm, you let go all of that. Let you and your client get entranced by the meeting of minds.
Make no mistake about it. Compared to being a “Learned” person, it’s a tough road being a “learner”.
Clinical Practice vs. Deliberate Practice.
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