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Current Update as of October 29, 2002

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Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.

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Finding Our Balance

Bayard Dodge Rea

 Summary by Ruby Gillion,
Edgar Cayce Institute of Intuitive Studies

Although intuition is a difficult subject to study and validate, recognition of the benefits have overridden this aspect. Two prominent fields that have taken advantage of these benefits are medicine and business. Clinical psychology, a profession that one might expect to embrace the use of intuition, seems to have ignored, or at least failed to acknowledge its use. One reason for this lack could be the desire of psychologists to be viewed as a part of the “serious” scientific community. For whatever reason, most psychologists seem to prefer methods of therapeutic intervention learned through years of study--methods that have been studied and proven to be effective. These methods, however, have in some cases led clients to view their therapist’s behavior as an automatic response to their issues, or to see the therapist as either arrogant or critical at the same time stating their preference for someone who is supportive and empathic. 

Unconscious means of receiving information is a basis part of being human. Cognitive functions that are used in everyday life such as making an assumption, playing bridge, or interpreting dream symbols draw upon unconscious resources--the same unconscious resources responsible for intuitive information. Combining intuition with the clinical methods now in use would not only assist in changing the way therapists are viewed but could result in achieving clinical goals more quickly.

Research has been done which indicates that intuition is an unconscious process that it is faster, more accurate, and more complex than analytical thinking. Although therapists may have “gut feelings” when working with clients, many times they don’t know how to apply these feelings in the therapy setting making it easier to ignore them; or they choose not to recognize the feelings as being separate or different. This is a one of the many reasons that recognition and use of intuitive information are important. However, along with learning to recognize and use this extra sense, there is also a need for awareness of things that can interfere with the process.  

Two of the research projects that were used to study unconscious processes were indicative of the complexities involved with this type of functioning. These projects were the matrix scanning procedure that identified patterns and the artificial grammar study that dealt with learning rules of communication. Both of these studies indicated that unconscious processing is not only faster but weaves interconnected information together to produce a result that is superior to those produced through conscious means. In the artificial grammar study, the determination was made that results from the unconscious processing could be expressed but not as quickly or with the depth as the knowing itself. Also, this study found that talking about the impressions as it appeared interfered with processing intuitive information.

As mentioned previously, research has been done which verifies that intuition does exist; but the disadvantage to this type of research is an inability to recognize intuitive information when it is being received as well as not knowing how to implement recognition and methods to improve access to intuition. A research project by Claire Petitmengin-Peugeot addressed these issues. Twenty-four participants, including eight psychotherapists, who had intuitive experiences in the past, were involved in this study. One outcome of this project clearly indicated that intent to be open to intuition does enhance one’s ability to use this sixth sense. Four phases were identified by Petitmengin-Peugeot as being common elements in the intuitive process of the participants. These phases were: letting go, connection, listening, and the intuitive moment:

(1) Letting go is a method of quieting the mind, slowing the breathing, and releasing tension in the body; in addition to these characteristics, the participants noticed a shift in focus to the back of the skull. A feeling of unity and receptivity was also described.

(2) Connection comes from the feeling of unity and a sense of joining with the object of the intent whether it is a person, a question, or a situation. The participants reported experiencing this connection through the heart, hands, stomach, or the spinal column. This connection was perceived through seeing, hearing, and sensing.                                                     

(3) Listening was described as turning the attention inward to become aware of what happenings within the self in regard to the thoughts and feelings connected to the other, whether the other is a person, a question, or some other type of objective. Being receptive to information coming in is the key rather than consciously seeking to find a solution. 

(4) The intuitive moment describes the manner in which information is received. Intuition was found to come through one of the senses--images, sensations, sounds, tastes, or smells. It was perceived either with only one sense or a combination of the senses. One common element reported by all twenty-four participants was a feeling of being receptive and/or passive during the process. Prematurely “trying to figure out” the message interfered with the its development.

According to this study, participants responded in three different ways to intuitive impressions. They reported repressing the impression because of fear or doubt, instantly attaching some emotion or meaning to it, and patiently observing the intuitive process as it developed without attaching emotion or judgment to the impression. Of the three responses, only patiently waiting for the outcome produced valuable insights.        

Some of the more experienced participants stated the belief that intuitive information is present and available at all times that only inattentiveness kept it from being perceived. Petitmengin-Peugeot’s conclusion as a result of this study was that the intuitive process is an internal one and by quieting the mind and allowing the sensations to surface without premature analysis, one can stimulate the perception of unconscious information. 

Conclusions drawn by the author of this article concerning the use of intuition in a clinical setting were: 

1. Intuition can be studied using both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

2. Intuition is quicker and more complex than conscious reasoning.

3. Intuition is especially suitable to some cognitive tasks.

4. The conscious mind can interfere with the intuitive process.

5. Intuition can be learned and applied.

Unconscious processing goes on in the therapeutic setting even though most clinicians may not be aware of it.This article indicates that use of intuition along with the conscious methods used by psychotherapists would be beneficial in the therapeutic process. In order to affect this change, three assumptions must be held:

1. Each client is unique and treatment should fit the needs of that client.

2. A therapist is more than an individual who follows the rules of a theory.

3. Therapy is an interaction between two people, not between one as a “fixer” and one needing “fixing.”

If intuition is to be incorporated into the clinical setting, some basic guidelines must be instituted. A therapist’s mind is very active during a clinical session trying to understand and evaluate the client and identifying the method of intervention needed. According to the research, this type of mental activity interferes with the intuitive process; therefore, it is necessary that the therapist learn to quiet the mind. The therapist will need to feel “in tune” with the client, carefully observing not only the words used, but the tone of the words, and the body language of the client as well as the therapist’s own internal processes.

In order to be aware of any influences that could color the perception of the therapist, it is imperative that s/he has a thorough knowledge of him/herself. In order to use intuition in combination with cognitive methods of therapy, comprehensive knowledge of psychotherapy is necessary. Finally, if the client is viewed in a holistic manner and the therapist is open to unforeseen developments, intuition can enhance the interaction and outcome of therapy.

According to the author, intuition is not only underrated; but the clinical profession seems to have no interest in learning to use this valuable tool. Is this because most psychotherapists do not understand intuition; or if they are aware of and do understand the nature of intuition, they do not know how to incorporate it into the therapeutic practice?

The time has come to find a way to balance reason and intuition in psychotherapy.

This article appeared as "Finding our balance: The investigation and clinical application of intuition." Psychotherapy, 2001, Volume 38, No. 1, Spring, pp. 97-106.

Correspondence regarding this article should be addressed to

Bayard Dodge Rea, M.S., 4141 Woodlawn Drive, Apt. 19, Nashville, TN 37205 Email: wizardrea@yahoo.com


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