I actually hate the stereotype that “therapists are therapists for a reason” indicating likeness of past issues and struggles with mental health. It actually makes me cringe a little when I hear that….. What I can tell you, though, is – it is a good thing if your therapist has been in or is currently in therapy.
Not all colleges require their graduate students to receive therapy, but it is often highly encouraged. Honestly, I would like it if social work/psychology/counseling programs to push it more and describe why it is necessary (in my opinion) in becoming a therapist. In addition to all the papers, graduate school is 2 years of extensive self examination, assessment and reflection. I thought nothing was going to make me grow and challenge me as much as grad school did….. and then I opened a business. Oye Vey!
We have often worked and trained very hard to understand what it is like to sit in your seat
We know it is uncomfortable, we know what it is like to want to dig your heals in, and know how it feels to be challenged or called out on something. It is my belief that by revisiting the experience in your seat, we are better in tune to how to respond and best promote growth, while being compassionate, empathetic, and challenging all at the same time.
I actually spent a part of my life wishing something was wrong with me so that I could go to therapy. Silly right? Or does that alone qualify as a need for therapy? In High School I had a friend that went to therapy but never opened up and it didn’t help as a result, and I wished I had that because I wanted to open up. I had so much to let out that I never wanted to tell my parents, and even my closest friends. I didn’t even want to think the thoughts. I wanted an outlet and I couldn’t have it, because there was nothing “wrong” with me. I was a high achieving student with an amazing family and support system. No one knew I wanted this. I’ve never told anyone.
I finally was able to get myself in therapy in graduate school. I was paying for it as it was included in the cost of the program, so I finally marched my butt down there. This was a good decision. I was nervous to go. I also didn’t want my classmates who were interning in the counseling center to see me, even though I was open with my friends about going. This helped to break the stigma barrier and to allow the permission to seek out therapy whenever I wanted it.
I realize as an adult, and as a therapist, I can go to therapy whenever the hell I want to
I didn’t need to have a horrible upbringing or experience a massive trauma. I can have little problems; I can have big problems. Therapy has helped me understand things about my upbringing that I didn’t realize were affecting me in certain ways. It doesn’t mean it was a bad childhood, but our childhood shapes us, and understanding it can help to figure out how to tackle current problems and to really understand and know ourselves. Therapy can also provide an unbiased supporter to really reflect on feelings without worrying about the reaction of someone else. It’s a great gift, therapy is.
Have I worried about therapists with a lot of issues serving other people with a lot of issues? Yes, I have, and I do. I mainly worry when they are not getting the help that they need as that leads to projection and a whole sort of issues that makes me worry for the client.
I believe that the therapy we provide can only go as deep as we are willing to go with ourselves.
I really value going deep and bringing myself to those places for my own well being and to be able to tolerate and provide the space needed for my clients when they go there too.
Do therapists have to always be in therapy? No, not all the time. But it’s super great, especially when life throws curve balls.
When I reflect on the colleagues I have and who I am most likely to refer a client to, that person is in or has been in therapy. They are often the colleagues I see to be most competent in their job. In my opinion, personal growth is an essential part of your therapist resume.
I wanted to share this with you today because my clients often find it comforting to know that therapists go to therapy, and not because they are crazy, and not because our clients drive us crazy, but because we value knowing ourselves, going deep, and becoming the best therapists we can be.