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Home  >  Medical Research Archives  >  Issue 149  > Clinical Intuition and Working Memory: Implications for Training and Supervision
Published in the Medical Research Archives
Feb 2023 Issue

Clinical Intuition and Working Memory: Implications for Training and Supervision

Published on Feb 28, 2023




Competence with emergent intuitive awareness, from fringe-of-consciousness hunches to compelling difference-in-kind realisations, is an imprecise qualitative skill and, on this basis, one generally overlooked in clinical psychology training and supervision. This situation is at marked odds with an expanding literature highlighting that intuitions emerging from unconscious inferential cognition serve as a primary resource in the decision-making of expert practitioners across a dissimilar range of professions. Additionally, (i) over forty years extensive and distinct research into working memory conclusively demonstrates that System 1 autonomous inferential reasoning is the mind’s powerhouse, yet moreover (ii) plays a determining role in attention allocation and thereby meta-level reasoning processes (i.e., System 2; cognitive control/metacognition), the very constituents of reflective practice. In short, the case appears overwhelming for clinical intuition competency training. Additionally, a substantial reflective practice training literature which could readily be modified to include clinical intuition considerations sits immediately at hand. One difficulty, however, is that an accommodating model which will seamlessly link, firstly, difference-in-kind S1 emergent awareness, and, secondly, meta-level reflective practice, is yet to be highlighted. Remarkably, coherence-based reasoning sits in plain sight as a potential bridging position. Finally, expanding upon elementary suggestions in the literature, the toolbox skills ‘slow-onset speech’, ‘affective inquiry’, and ‘therapeutic presence’ are put forward as therapy technique functional for enhancing a clinician’s intuition sensitivity.

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Michael John

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