What is Insight? Many theorists from a variety of psychotherapy perspectives - psychodynamic, attachment, humanistic-experiential, cognitive-behavioral, family, and integrative - all contributed chapters to the book entitled Insight in Psychotherapy (2007). Then the various chapter authors came together to see if they could arrive at a common definition, in spite of their many differences. They did so. They agreed that insight is "a conscious meaning shift involving new connections" (p. 442).
Why foster it? Although certainly not the only avenue toward psychological change, it is an important one. Basseches (2015) termed insight emancipatory because it can lead to personal freedom. My experience has shown the insightful shifts and connections, as they are occurring, are very invigorating to clients and myself as well. As Carere-Comes (2015) observed, "We - and our client - are specially satisfied when an insight arrives that collects all or most of the relevant material in a coherent whole " (p. 318).
Insights can lead to transformational outcomes such as:
- Reduction in symptoms
- Preparation for behavioral changes
- More complex emotional and cognitive experiences
- More accurate understandings of others
- Increased self-esteem
- More confidence in oneself as an active agent
- Decisions that take more information into account
Insight can indeed be the gift that keeps on giving. Insights now can promote even more accurate and comprehensive insights later on, both during the course of therapy and after it is done. Self-generated post-therapy insights are, in my opinion, one of the main reasons clients can keep improving after psychotherapy has ended. Insights are both the cause and the result of change.
Basseches, M. (2015). Interdependence of technical, practical, and and emancipatory inquiry in psychotherapy practice and research: A commentary on Carere-Comes' "one or two psychotherapies?" Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 25 , 325-337. doi: 10.1037/a0039598
Carere-Comes, T. (2015). One or two psychotherapies? Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 25, 313-324. doi: 10.1037/a0038133
Hill, C. E., Castonguay, L. G., Angus, L., Arnkoff, D. B., Barber, J. P.. Borkovec, T. D., Wampold, B. E. (2007). Insight in psychotherapy: Definitions, processes, consequences, and research directions. In L. G. Castonguay & C. E. Hill (Eds.), Insight in psychotherapy (pp. 441-454). Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.