I grew up practicing Kempo Karate. A lineage called Shorinji Kempo. Which is a traditional Japanese karate system that had direct roots to Shaolin Kung Fu. But it was much more direct and practical than the traditional animal styles of Kung Fu. My system moved even further away from tradition. We had a way of cutting out what was ineffective and innovating precision to an almost obsessive level.
Even a step further than breaking away from traditional Shorinji Kempo, we were highly integrative and learned/stole from every other way of self-defense and martial arts that was possible and effective.
I was taught that since we were an integrative and non-traditional system, we had to know our identity as Kempo martial artists. That was our core, our jumping off point. Our ability to tactfully integrate other systems and techniques was predicated on knowing our primary art, first and foremost.
In the field of therapy and especially Social Work these days, it is highly valued to be eclectic. To take from every approach that works. And for right reason. In the past many therapists had trapped themselves in one bubble, creating what I would call cults of therapy.
The problem with this is obvious, that a therapist would lack outside counterpoints and checks and balances and innovations coming from outside sources would be missed. The cult of the given mode of therapy would reinforce its own hubris and clients would not be served well in the end.
The other extreme, what I call the “hodgepodge” therapist, is a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. Many therapists these days may train this way. Going from one continuing education training to another, never landing anywhere with no core integration point or identity to make sense of the various techniques and schools of thought.
These days many schools of therapy are focusing more on in depth education as the problem from the last paragraph has created many therapists who know a little bit about a lot and hope that experience in and of itself will make them effective. Of which it doesn’t as often as you would think.
Consider the difference between learning from the best in a given field, vs figuring it out by oneself. Which therapist would you choose to trust?
I once heard a talk by a psychotherapist who described a theory out there about what makes the top 20% of therapists different from the other 80%. Off the top of my head: they believe in the possibility of change and will pursue it tenaciously, they are flexible and will change their approach and stance as need be, and they are well trained in their particular orientation. Another facet may have something to do with the relationship but I’ll have to find the talk again.
So the truth always comes to be somewhere in the middle. This is why I have a primary approach but will use every other form of therapy and human potential that I know of to get to change.
This fantastic primary approach integrates all the secondary stuff I work with and have studied.
For example: mindfulness, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Schema Therapy, breathwork, somatic therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Focusing, and so on…