Editor's Note

Editor's Note

Are Supershrinks Born or Made?

By Rich Simon

November/December 2007

For much of psychotherapy's history, clinicians have worshiped at the shrine of the field's superstars, the charismatic "masters," who were revered as much for their outsized, often theatrical, personalities, as for the inborn therapeutic wisdom they seemed to exude from every pore. It was these paragons who inspired many of us to enter this often puzzling and frustrating field in the first place. In the secret recesses of our hearts, we might even have dreamed that we, too, would one day join the ranks of what the authors of the lead article in this issue call the "supershrinks." According to the mythology of supershrinkdom, once we spent enough years getting the requisite training and experience under our belts, the mysterious "it" factor that we knew all great therapists must have would surely kick in. Failing that, we'd discover the magic approach or technique that would launch our practice to the super level.

Well, leave it to empirical science to burst another beautiful bubble! As Scott Miller, Mark Hubble, and Barry Duncan report in their article, "Supershrinks," the incontrovertible evidence is in: studies of the top 25 percent of therapists—those whose success rates are at least 50 percent better than the average—show unequivocally that neither training, experience, personality style, theoretical orientation, nor (get this) innate talent—has anything much to do with what makes the greats better than all the rest. So, what is the elusive…

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