In his TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson explains the difference between industrial versus agricultural models of education: In industrial models, education is goal oriented and outcomes are measured against the goal. In agricultural models, education is nurtured based and outcomes are not necessarily known in advance. When you plant a seed and water it, you are not controlling how the plant develops and grows, you are simply providing the nurture that allows its natural growth to unfold. This model can be applied to all human development and therefore to therapy which is a form of development.
There has been much emphasis recently on having goals, having timelines for goals, and so on. Goals can be useful for concrete, definable tasks, but they are way too limiting for developmental processes. In the course of a lifetime, a person moves through many opportunities and choices, and with each bend in the road, new directions become visible. With ongoing encouragement, resources, and sustaining relationships, human development takes courses we can only appreciate and understand as we go.
Part of the task of allowing development to unfold naturally is the need to trust the organic process of growth itself. Without support, organisms cannot grow to their optimum manifestation, but at the same time, with nurture, we can rest assured that nature wants to move in directions of growth. In other words, each organism contains within itself the natural tendency to move toward its optimal expression given sufficient resources. This holds true for people and their minds as well.
The trick is, we have to do our best to create an environment that promotes that growth, make resources available, and provide encouraging and supportive relationships in order to facilitate the best possible developmental process, while, at the same time, relinquishing our need to control its outcome. When we are in the position of nurturer–parent, teacher, physician, therapist–all of our knowledge, experience and empathic understanding is called upon, and we still need to let go and allow the natural process to work. It is at once a trick of engagement and humility that requires a continued re-dedication.