When doing therapy I sometimes imagine this massive invisible library behind my chair. It is full of theories, models, and ideas about helping my clients. And the bookshelves are stuffed with all experiences my clients have shared with me over the years piled on top of my personal experiences. It is a messy but useful place.
As I engage in the conversation with a client, I am able to select any reference necessary from the bookshelf behind me. I use what I have selected for the benefit of this particular client at this particular time. It is a creative and exciting process of interacting with my client and the “library resources” at my disposal.
When I have shared my invisible library image of therapy with some of my graduate students they sometimes look puzzled or even sad. They tell me that their own library is so small. The shelves are there, but they look pretty bare. But I believe that they are more than adequate for the task. And fortunately, their library will continue to grow. Whatever gaps they now have will fill in with their own life and clinical experiences. That is why licensing laws require the completion of a graduate degree and some supervision and work experience. These are the foundations for a full library.
Every experience a therapist has is preparing the therapist for the current moment with the client.