Change: The Carpenter, the Tools and the Wood
In some ways, the analogy of a carpenter using his tools to shape wood is a good analogy for the process of psychotherapy. It also brings out some of the important relationships between psychotherapist, client and the person the client wants to be, and perhaps shows them in an unexpected way.
To expand further, a carpenter sees the wood and sees the way that he or she would like to shape it. He imagines it different and he takes his time to imagine how he could transform it into something different; something functional, something purposeful, perhaps something beautiful. He hopes that he has the skill to do this, and he takes the time that the work needs, and resists the impulse to rush and do a poor job of it.
The tools that the carpenter will use for the job are prepared, oiled and sharpened. He wants to make sure he uses the right tool for the job, shifting tools as appropriate and in response to what needs to happen next. The carpenter trusts his tools, but he also knows that they're only as good as is his ability to make use of them. He respects them, but he knows that they have their limitations.
The piece of wood has been selected, from all the other possible pieces of wood. Like all pieces of wood, it has knots and the grain runs in distinctive ways. Even when the work is finished, it will still have knots and the grain will still run in distinctive ways. But the carpenter knows this before he starts and factors this into the final look of the piece; in the end the knots and the distinctive grain are part of it. Without them, it wouldn't really be wood.
The client is the carpenter, not the therapist
It's important to understand that the carpenter isn't the psychotherapist but the client. It isn't the psychotherapist’s vision being created, but the client’s. Instead, a psychotherapist is the tool that the client wields; the carpenter’s strength and the therapist’s edge work as one to shape the client as he takes himself closer towards the ultimately unreachable goal of perfection.
– Tim Hill
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