Academic journal article TCA Journal

Intuition: The Other Way of Knowing

Academic journal article TCA Journal

Intuition: The Other Way of Knowing

Article excerpt

The counseling literature has devoted little attention to discussion of the function of intuition in the process of therapeutic work. In this article, we explore intuition and encourage greater awareness of its place and role in counseling. We also provide an outline for a structured atmosphere which may invite intuitive discovery for both counselor and client.

Material-focused, extraverted, and object-acquisition driven societies such as mainstream North America place emphasis on the faculty of sensation (i.e., perception by way of the five basic senses) as the primary functional human mechanism for data intake relative to negotiation of the objective environment. In other words, how something looks, sounds, smells, tastes, and/or feels constitutes the first and most relied upon indication as to its nature and immediate available utility. This is an understandable outgrowth of a long-standing hunter-gatherer civilization.

Even though counseling is a direct derivative of Parson's social activism and Roger's non-directive humanism, it remains entrenched in European intellectualism (most especially psychology), American rugged individualism, and the desire for personal control of destiny based on perceived information from sensationally observed factual (empirical) data. Nonetheless, most persons, and perhaps, especially counselors, also find themselves organizing and comprehending their immediate experience by way of another faculty: the lesser understood mechanism of data-intake and construal known as intuition.

The Oxford English Dictionary (1989) defines intuition as "the immediate apprehension of an object by the mind without the intervention of any reasoning process" (p. 30). According to Jung (1981), intuition is "a function of perception which includes subliminal factors, that is, the possible relationship to objects not appearing in the field of vision, and the possible changes, past and future, about which the object gives no clue" (p. 23). Vaughan (1979) describes intuition as "knowing without being able to explain how we know" (p. 46). While less emphasized and apparently less valued than sensation by the mainstream society, intuition constitutes a continuously powerful presence in our daily personal meaningmaking as well as in therapeutic work. The purpose of this article is to foster an increased discussion of the subject of intuition in the counseling literature and to encourage further efforts to better understand its nature as well as its unavoidable and important place in counseling.


Counselors are called upon again and again to actively listen to a client's narrative and use their perceptive and comprehending faculties to mentally crystallize a therapeutic framework from which appropriate interventions may be issued (Malan, 1976). Now, with the reality of managed care and thus briefer and more limited numbers of sessions, this "knowing" must occur quickly. Since the content of the narrative is only as potentially helpful as the counselor's understanding of the context in which it is set by the client (Rogers, 1957), more than simple sensory perception, no matter how keen, is necessary for effective therapeutic assessment and intervention. Every practicing clinician can attest to reliance on some mode of "knowing of" an experience beyond the five senses. This indirect knowing may be referred to as clues, hunches, guesses, glimpses, gut feelings, inklings, and so forth. While these awarenesses may be supported by rational thought and concrete data gathered via sensory means, genuine intuition is distinguished in that it occurs apart from logic and from significant amounts of units of information. As Shirley and Langan-Fox (1996) have observed intuition is "a feeling of knowing with certitude on the basis of inadequate information and without conscious awareness of rational thinking" (p. 564). Westcott and Ranzoni (1963) wrote that intuition is "the process of reaching a conclusion on the basis of little information which is normally reached on the basis of significantly more information" (p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.