Is counselling an art or a science? Or perhaps both? Over the last few years there has been an increasing trend for counsellors to adopt ‘evidence-based practice’ and to use research studies to inform our approach. That’s all well and good, but we know that research papers can be quickly superseded and that what’s ‘flavour of the month’ one year can be old news the next. As a counsellor, where do I sit on the science or art spectrum? Well, it can be useful to know the most recent statistics and to be challenged by new findings. Certainly, it’s never good to become complacent. But, personally, apart from learning through experience, I believe I gain the most insight from art. Surely it’s impossible to read a classic novel without being drawn into deep reflection and contemplation, or to listen to the work of a great composer without connecting to a deeper sense of being. Art can give insights into something outside of our cognitive reasoning, into something bigger, deeper, more profound. Of course, it’s hard to quantify the benefit art provides, but if I can tap into the collective wisdom contained in books, paintings, music, sculptures and all the other creative endeavours, I’m convinced I will become a better, wiser, more creative and more insightful counsellor. I just don’t know how to prove it through Randomised Controlled Trials!
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