Okay so I don’t know who started this rumor and I’m sorry to have to break it to you, but therapists do not have the “perfect all put together life”. In fact, if anyone knows of a secret to being exempt from mental health, please let me in!
As therapists, we are in the helping field; our job requires us to listen to others’ problems and support them navigate life. Woah talk about high expectations huh?
As I think back to my journey of becoming a therapist, there are a few things I wish that graduate school would have taught me. My master’s program did a great job on teaching me client care, theory, law, and ethics (of course) and more but all these factors are learned to benefit our clients, and we can get so busy attending to others that we forget about ourselves in the process.
We can’t give our best to our clients if we are not at our best. With that in mind, you know what I wish would have also been incorporated? Tools to navigate my own stress, skills to utilize in the workplace, how to recognize my own strengths, and the fact that we need community in this field.
So back to my question, do therapists go to therapy? Although it is not necessarily a requirement, I personally think part of being a great therapist is knowing what it’s like to be a client. Imagine being able to genuine relate on what it feels like to be on the other side of the couch/screen when your client comes in for the first time feeling anxious and uncertain. To be able to say- I know what you’re feeling, I’ve been there too.
Let me let you into a little secret... interventions are great and helpful. But you know what I’ve seen over and over that truly makes a difference? The therapeutic relationship with the client, and to show up for our clients, we have to show up for ourselves also.
Here are my lasts thoughts, if you are starting your journey as a therapist know that the first few years can be tough! Make sure you reach out for support as necessary, by joining a group, seeking your own therapy, building community. If you have been in the field for some years, the same still applies because we know burnout and compassion fatigue is real.
If you are looking for a group, I know of one that will be starting very soon! In fact, I will be co-facilitating it and discussing the tools I wish I would have had. Check it out on our K&B website, and then you can also say “this therapist goes to therapy”.
All the best,