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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

The Pressure We Put on Ourselves as Therapists

People come to therapists to feel better. As therapists, we naturally want that to happen for our clients as well. We walk the line between doing our clinical best as therapists and knowing that a client’s outcome is ultimately out of our control. It is the client’s choice whether they want to face things in their lives and implement change.

Even though I know the therapy outcome is out of my control, I sometimes slip into putting an exorbitant amount of pressure on myself.

As a therapist who charges a premium fee ($300/80 min), I sometimes feel pressure to make sure my clients feel they “got their money’s worth.”

I want every session to feel magical. It’s part of my roots as an art therapist, where the art often ushers in great insight and realizations. I want that every session.

I want to see change faster.

I want my clients to feel that therapy changed their lives.

A continuous line drawing of a face that looks distressed. Made by art therapist Jackie Schuld.
"Losing Connection with Myself" Illustration by Jackie Schuld

The irony is that the more pressure I put on myself, the less effective I am. I fall into a fault-proof mindset and strive for perfection. I become so controlling that I forget to trust my intuition and that it leads me to the next best step in therapy.

I also forget to trust my client and that their own bodies also yearn for change and will lead us where we need to go.

Lastly, I forget that the ecosystem is at play. While I am not a religious person, I believe our lives are like the ecosystem of a forest. There are factors at play that we are not even aware of, like the roots of trees talking to each other through fungus.

I know this seems like a leap, but I believe the ecosystem is working together for the good of humans. A therapy session is not the only thing that will usher in positive change for a person. It is a compilation of things - perhaps a conversation with a close friend, a serendipitous moment when the client reads someone that resonates with what we’ve been talking about, or they hear something on the radio. Everything is working together.

When I remember that, I know all of the pressure is not on me.


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