Are You a Psychotherapy Technician or an Artist? — and What’s the Difference?

Janae B. Weinhold, PhD LPC

There’s a big difference in psychotherapy between working as a technician vs. as an artist. Technicians focus more on the short-term and treating symptoms using “formulas” designed for a specific group or population. Artists focus more on the long-term and use a healing model to address the underlying issues. They use themselves and the therapist-client relationship to bring about lasting changes that transform people.

Is it the question of technician vs. artist an “either/or” issue, or is the best solution “both/and?” And if it’s “both/and,” then when to do what? These are the kinds of issues that most mental health professionals lack support in sorting through—the kinds of things that our Trauma-Informed Care Trainings address. See more about them at the end of this article.

Most psychotherapists are trained in the treatment model, without ever learning about its shortcomings. They get virtually no exposure to the healing model—most don’t realize it even exists!

I see the artistic, healing model of psychotherapy as an “archeological” process in which clients systematically work through their issues and problems. This process requires attunement, time, skill, and patience.  It allows clients to gradually change their neurobiological, relational, behavioral, and body structure patterns by gradually opening the heart; rewiring their brain, heart and nervous systems; by releasing stored emotions through deep process work; by breaking free of double-bind dilemmas; and by building a stronger sense of Self.


The treatment/technician and artist/healing paradigms are about as far from each other as the sun and the moon—as are their underlying assumptions, goals, orientations, outcomes and the role of the therapist. Psychotherapists who treat are also very different from those whose intent is to heal. Healers tend to me more client-centered, heart-centered, and intuitive, while those who treat tend to be more diagnostic, intellectual and mechanical in their work. The chart below illustrates differences between the treatment model and the healing model of psychotherapy.

Treatment vs. Healing Model

Treatment vs. Healing Model

The Explosion of Awareness About the Healing Paradigm

Awareness about the healing paradigm has been growing exponentially for several reasons. The first is due to the rapid growth in the field of traumatrology, particularly relational/developmental trauma. Symptoms such as anxiety, depression, panic disorders, and freak-out episodes are NOT diseases or mental illness—they are symptoms of unhealed developmental trauma!

From a trauma-informed care perspective, healing is about “what happened (or didn’t happen) to you as a child” rather than the diagnosis-focused “what’s wrong with you.” It avoids shaming, diseasing and stigma—and focuses on the need for support and caring. It provides targeted support that helps clear the trauma from the nervous system, rewire the brain and move people from trauma’s wounds and towards true healing.

The second reason for the expansion of the healing paradigm is the growing number of effective Mind|Body|Spirit healing modalities, particularly the somatic therapies, that can truly clear trauma from the nervous system and rewire the brain. A third reason is that the new research clearly shows relational trauma as the primary cause of chronic mental and physical health problems that are occur during the first three years of a person’s life.

The growing acceptance of attachment research in the field of mental health emphasizes the importance of the client-therapist relationship in the healing process. This shifts the focus away from tools, techniques and other more mechanical approaches, and towards the relational component of psychotherapy. This is not just a shift in focus, but a total paradigm shift—one for which most practitioners are not prepared.

“Performing” as a treatment technician is very different from “being present,” and relating to clients from a strong sense of Self. The shift from Technician to Self is something that traditional counselor education programs does not prepare students for, and is missing in continuing education and professional development trainings.

Helping psychotherapists make this shift from technician to artist, from treatment to healing, is a primary focus of the Colorado Professional Development Center’s programs. Our participants describe our Trauma-Informed Care Training as “profound,” “transformative,” “relevant,” “integrative,” and “interactive.”

For more information about our TIC trainings, follow the link below.

Trauma-Informed Practitioner Certificate

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