A SHAMANIC TAPESTRY
My Experiences with Individual, Marital,
and Family Therapy
William M. Pinsof
The tradition of psychotherapists in psychotherapy is as old as the human species. The first psychotherapists were the shamans, who were chosen for their profession by virtue of their disorders, and who learned the secrets of their own underworld in order to cure their fellow tribesmen (Eliade, 1964; Lommel, 1967). In line with this ancient tradition, who I am today as a clinical psychologist and integrative psychotherapist is the product not only of my education, training, and personality but also, perhaps even more important, my experience as a patient in various psychotherapies over the course of my life. All of these experiences have become interwoven strands in the tapestry of my professional self.
Without failure, there is no growth. Learning and failure are inextricably bound to each other in the evolution of our species, in the development of a person, and in the development of a psychotherapist. Failure drives the development of integrative psychotherapies. It also drives innovation within the therapy of any particular individual or family. In addition, the repeated and manageable failures of the therapeutic relationship drive the development of the selves of our patients. Embracing and understanding our failures is the key to the growth of our field, our therapies, and ultimately, our selves.
Resolving psychotherapeutic failures has been the key to my growth as a clinician and scholar. Integrative problem-centered therapy (Pinsof, 1983, 1995, 2002), a therapeutic model for integrating family, individual, and