Developing a methodology exploring the unknown in the acquisition of therapeutic knowledge
The aim of this study is to develop a methodology, through phenomenology, for exploring the unknown in the acquisition of therapeutic knowledge. An exploration is made of the way various writers attempt to explain the unknown, raising a problematic about how the unknown can become defined as if known, whereas others attempt to hold open the question of the unknown of the unknown. It is argued that learning places emphasis on knowing whereas in psychotherapy, there is increasing interest in learning to tolerate doubt and uncertainty. Ten participants were interviewed in terms of the question ‘how do psychotherapists learn about the unknown?’ An empirical phenomenological method was utilised to translate a general descriptive structure of the phenomenon. Findings suggest learning about the unknown as acquired during a process of lifelong enquiry through interrelated experiences, including: the known, training, therapy and supervision, practice and just living. Furthermore, immersion in experiences and relationships highlighted recognition of the spiritual or mystical, opening up hope in the face of fear of death and repeated disillusionment, with realisation that no single theory explains everything. In de-translating findings, examples of a second analysis suggested that reverie seemed more helpful in researcher and participants was disrupted, compared to empirical psychological phenomenology which separates phenomenology from philosophy. Reverie was explored as an approach, which can attend more to aspects where something other than dialectic of birth and death has possibility, and the unknown emerges when one disrupts the intentional position of the other.