Therapy for Therapists
One of the most common questions that is often asked of me in therapy sessions by clients are “have you ever seen a therapist yourself”, and to this question, I always answer truthfully “yes”.
Then they normally follow it up with another question “for how long?”
Therefore, in this blog, I want to be as honest and truthful as I can be about my own journey into the world of counselling.
My belief and experience are that many people enter therapy when there seems to be a problem or a dilemma in their life. Such as a loss of a loved one or a conflict in the workplace. They may be coming for self-esteem issues or a breakup of a relationship. However, for me, this answer is very different. Yes, I did originally start my journey into therapy because I had experienced a sudden loss in my life; however, since then, it has progressed much further than that.
For me, I now find therapy is an act of curiosity about myself in gaining a deeper understanding. When I am feeling something inside myself that I do not understand, I have a great sense of wonder. I like to find out more about my body processes and why I have developed certain defence mechanisms.
Why pick a therapist than a friend
The difference in talking to a therapist for me than choosing a friend or a family member is that the therapist is objective. They are not in my world so they do not have any hidden agenda; they are experienced and knowledgeable of their craft and are a trained observer and listener of all the material I bring to our sessions.
Their job is to help me gain a clearer understanding of my patterns throughout my life and picking out the themes that occur. Which means joining all the dots together in a non-judgmental, empathic way.
My first experience of counselling was a psychologist who specialised in psychoanalysis. When I was in my twenties and had just experienced many losses in my life to the point of losing sight of who I was. I was very confused, angry and in utter despair of where to turn or what to do. Since then I have gone to experience many different types of therapy from transactional analysis, person-centred and gestalt. I have learned so much from the different types of therapy but most of all I learned the vast majority of therapists are all trying to achieve the same goal. Helping me gain a great insight into myself and living my life as a fully functioning individual.
When starting my counselling training, I expected to learn the right things to say at precisely the right moment to help people to feel better and to allow them to reach their full potential. I believed that there was some magic formula, which I would be able to learn and master so that each of my clients would go away feeling happy and looking forward to their future. Additionally, I knew that there was a strong emphasis on self-awareness in many of the courses, so I was anticipating years of learning to know myself better and consequentially growing as a person. By the end of the first week, I realised that part of my expectation was right on the mark, and that part was wrong. We would certainly be doing quite a lot of work on self-awareness, but learning the magic formula was out of the question.
The emphasis on self-awareness and personal growth not only challenged my expectations about the content of the counselling program but, more importantly, it changed my entire perception of how I view the counselling profession. My belief that the counsellor as an expert and will have the answers to the client’s concerns was also dismissed by the famous psychologist Jung who said “If I wish to treat another individual psychologically at all, I must for better or worse give up all pretensions to superior knowledge, all authority and desire to influence”.
For that reason, counselling has become more a way of life for me. Just as some would choose to visit the hairdresser or have a drink down the pub. I have choosen to learn more about myself and continually strive to be as self-aware as possible.