Why is Curiosity Important?

Everyone has probably heard the familiar expression at one time or another,
“Curiosity killed the cat.” This popular statement tends to incriminate the act of
being curious as negative or potentially dangerous. Yet, the art of being curious is
essential in the field of counseling/therapy. Being curious with clients often opens
the door to deeper understanding of core wounds, core desires, and possible
goals a client may not even be consciously aware of. Within therapy, being
curious can be fundamental in helping clients uncover a pathway for healing.

In an article by Psychology Today,
our-superpower-just-about-everything) researchers discovered two types of
curiosity that essentially were labeled as “Pleasant” or “Unpleasant.” The article
explained pleasant curiosity as more of a desire to learn and enjoy the process,
whereas unpleasant curiosity is simply more for reduction of negative emotions
or anticipated fear. Both can be relevant when working with clients and sorting
out pleasant from unpleasant curiosities within a client might be an
insightful/experiential activity to do within the therapy room. Knowing when to
ask pleasant or unpleasant questions is an entirely different matter. Most
therapists can tell when working with a client when enough trust is present for
“curious” questions to be asked.

In another article of Psychology Today
help-you-cope-with-uncertainty) Curiosity is described as a tool to help us
become less anxious. This is a common approach therapists use when asking
clients simple clarifying questions. Using curiosity can also be used specifically
with clients who struggle with anxiety. Therapists can ask questions about specific
fears or situations and walk a client play by play through a distressful scenario.
They could also brainstorm possible coping skills or strategies for a “worst case
scenario” actually happening. As the therapist continues leading a client through
these steps curiosity can be used to explore a client’s emotions, past experiences
and finding connection between past traumas and present fears. Sometimes
when therapist can point out these connections to a client then the anxiety can
be relieved.

Curiosity also promotes learning and we know learning can promote
goodness, education and growth. In the following article;
child/202305/curiousity-is-the-key-to-learning) researchers discovered pleasure
can also be associated with curiosity and even parts of the brain responsible for
rewards become activated when a person is piqued by curiosity. Therefore, when
a therapist shows genuine curiosity, it can be a healing experience for a client.
The ability to have someone showing interest in them and curiosity about what
makes unique from everyone else in the world can indeed be an incredible

Curiosity is a motivator of creativity as well. While children may express
their creativity in playing pretend, painting or mixing weird foods together, a
therapist may motivate creativity differently. And yet, using the play of a child
may be one more method to help clients connect to becoming more curious
about themselves. Consider the “House Tree Person Projective Test.” By utilizing
this test in a therapy session, therapists have a wide-open arena to ask so many
open-ended questions and based on a client’s answers, possibly go somewhat

In conclusion, there are many benefits to utilizing the art of curiosity. Most
therapists will utilize curiosity in some format with their clients. But, knowing the
importance of curiosity is a skill I believe every person should learn before
reaching full adulthood.

-Susan Steier

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