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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

Shifting Away from a Fault-Proof Therapist Mindset

The work we do as therapists is deeply healing and transformative.

Every therapist I have ever met is aware of the sacred trust and duty we have to our clients.

In fact, most therapists are HYPER aware.

This is due to a combination of factors.

First, the therapy field attracts individuals who want to “help” people.

Second, we are taught in graduate school to not harm anyone and continuously look at ethics.

Third, ethics and self-monitoring are reinforced in our internships, jobs, and overall field.

Fourth, we operate in a field that is monitored by a governing board that has the right to revoke our ability to work in the field.

Illustration of a person getting sucked into a fault-proof therapist mindset. Illustration is for an article on fault-proof thinking in therapists by Art Therapist Jackie Schuld in Tucson, AZ.
"Getting Sucked In" Illustration by Jackie Schuld

All of these factors can create a hyper-focus on being perfectly ethical, “doing it right,” and not harming anyone ever.

I’ve named it the fault-proof therapist mindset.

When a therapist becomes trapped in a fault-proof mindset, it can lead to unrealistic expectations and relentless monitoring (of both self and others).

It can cause therapists to ruminate over the quality of their work (wondering if they’re ever good enough), their previous sessions and current clients, and any perceived mistakes.

A fault-proof mindset can cause therapists to live small and not take professional risks (such as opening a private practice), fearing they might make unintentional mistakes that cost them their license.

A therapist wanting more safety, control, order, predictability, can easily fall into a fault-proof mindset, hoping it will give them the things they seek.

However, a fault-poor mindset can never do that because it is rooted in false assumptions:

  • We can avoid making mistakes

  • There is always a right/wrong way to do things

  • We can avoid all harm

  • The most ethical action is always clear

  • A mistake will irrevocably damage the therapist, their career, or their clients

When we put a name to what is hindering us (the fault-proof therapist mindset), it means we can identify it and make a choice.

We can choose to take back our power.

We can remind ourselves:

  • We are human and will make mistakes

  • Even with our best intentions and actions, we may unintentionally harm someone

  • We cannot control how others feel or think in response to our words or actions

  • We practice within a field that is multi-layered and complex, and there may not be simple answers

  • The standards and expectations of our field are constantly changing

We can also claim our power by knowing:

  • If the worse case scenario happens, we will figure out a way to move forward, or seek help to do so

  • We can grieve, learn, repair, and continue thriving within the face of mistakes

We can set aside our armor of the fault-proof mentality, and choose to rely on our experience, skills, and intuition.

When powered by our intuition, we make choices that empower us and allow us to live more fully - which also leads us to being better therapists.


If a fault-proof therapist mindset is holding you back from starting a private practice, I provide consultation for therapists wanting to create their ideal private practices.


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