Yes, you are right. There are no infallible therapists. In fact, a high tolerance for failure may be a prerequisite for being a clinician.
In my teaching, I use an analogy from baseball. If you miss six bats out of ten, you are an all-star for the ages. If you miss seven out of ten, you are still an all-star. If you miss eight out of ten you can play in the major leagues. I think our "batting average" in therapy is much, much lower than these numbers.
Erickson was an all-star for the ages. He still missed a lot. In Experiencing Erickson (Brunner/Mazel, 1985), I reported my first experience with Erickson. The first three cases he discussed with me were not successes: One patient was able to leave his hospital room. The other two made no changes. In The Teaching Seminar (Brunner/Mazel, 1980), Erickson provides a letter from a patient that he does not help. In my chapter in Ericksonian Approaches to Psychotherapy and Hypnosis (Brunner/Mazel, 1982), I describe a case where I succeeded after Erickson had not.
Erickson believed that some patients do not benefit from therapy. Not every cancer can be cured. Neither can every arthritis. Every therapist has a range of patients with whom s/he can be successful. Erickson had a wide scope. I study his work intently because it helps me expand my range.
If you care to send your term paper, Benjamin, I would be glad to read it and learn from your findings.
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