About Epistemic Humility

by Lise Liv Skovgaard, MA in Psychology

When a therapist enters the field of psychotherapy, the degree of theoretical knowledge is high on top of that there is demand for being adaptable,  flexible, creative and accepting of complexity, which is considered to be knowledge that the therapist gains through many years of practice, knowledge that enables the therapist to be present with the client and the theoretical knowledge in a balanced way. It seems that being present increases with the the acceptance of the complexity of the clinical reality. Complexity is here to be understood as every meeting between client and therapist being a unique one. It seems that  the acceptance of complexity is more likely to be a part of the therapist´s understanding as the therapist integrates a personal dimension into a professional one. The personal dimension is often referred to as interpersonal skills or the nonspecific factors. Nonspecific factors are of great importance to the interaction between therapist and client and of importance to presence. An existing understanding of the development of therapists argues  that a personal dimension is gradually integrated into a professional dimension as the experience of a therapist grows. As the therapist experiences the complexity of the clinical reality, humility towards the field increases, which makes the therapist accept the complexity as a condition and thereby the therapist becomes more present. Combining a philosophical hermeneutic and developmental perspective with wisdom theories a theoretical therapeutic knowledge ideal that combines a personal and a professional dimension at an early  stage of therapist development is produced and though that understanding we can practise epistemic humility as a tool for being present. The presentation is a theoretical and practical presentation on how to use the understanding of epistemic humility as the understanding that provides a possible balance between knowledge and an accept of the complexity of the clinical field. The presentation will be a mix of theoretical perspective and exercises in how to work on presence through the understanding of epistemic humility.