Therapists Need Their Own Therapists
Providing therapy is emotional and mental labor.
As therapists, we sit with distressed clients, silently observe, modulate ourselves, maintain intense presence, listen to difficult and painful experiences, dialogue around challenging topics, and help guide clients to reconnect with themselves.
The work we do as therapists is wonderful, life-changing work.
AND it takes a lot to operate at that level day after day.
It’s why therapists need their own therapists.
We need a place where we can share what comes up for us in a therapy session. A place we can discuss how challenging it was to hear particular experiences or witness someone in such pain.
Therapy can also be a place to discuss why certain topics are so difficult for us. A place where we can discern when we need to lean into a deeper conversation with the client or within ourselves.
Therapy also lightens our emotional load so that we can maintain full presence and not be lost in whatever thoughts the client activates.
Most importantly, it helps us as humans. We have our own histories, patterns, and beliefs that can negatively impact us. We also have our own unique ways we want to grow.
When an art therapy student interviewed me and asked what he could do to prepare for life as a therapist, I told him my number one recommendation was to be in therapy.
We need to know what it is like to be on the other side. To know how difficult it is to find and select a therapist who aligns with us (and actually returns our phone calls)! To know what it’s like to share the most vulnerable parts of oneself. To have the experience of working through difficult topics and experiencing gradual, positive change.
Sometimes, a difficult experience with a therapist can inform us of what NOT to do as a therapist.
Having a powerful therapist instills trust in our own work. We know therapy will help others because it helped us.
Doing our own therapeutic work also ensures we don’t shy away from topics that make us uncomfortable.
For example, I used to be uncomfortable discussing my fee and money topics with clients. When I wanted to restructure my private practice, I had to do a lot of internal work around my money stories and relationship to money.
I worked with a therapist to understand where the discomfort came from.
While I did that therapeutic work for myself, it also has helped me be a more powerful therapist.
When a client is struggling with a money-related topic, I now love diving in deep with them.
Having our own therapists also helps us to explore different therapeutic modalities, which can expand our understanding of the field.
This can help us to make more appropriate referrals (such as when I identify that a client could benefit from EMDR). It can also inform us of new treatment styles that we might like to pursue in our own education.
I’ve seen therapists at various points throughout my life. I’ve also seen therapists that used different modalities (art therapy, EMDR, somatic, CBT, etc.). All of these experiences enabled me to become a healthier, happier human and a more robust, prepared therapist.
I also normalize therapy by letting my clients know that I see a therapist.
It erases misguided assumptions that there must be something “wrong” with a person to see a “therapist.” Sometimes, we simply want to grow.
Every client I have ever told was happy and relieved to know I also go to therapy. I think it also helps them to worry about me less. That I also have someone to go to. And that I am emotionally strong enough to be present with whatever they share.
I want to stay in that place. And for me, that means staying in therapy.
I provide therapy for entrepreneurs, therapists, and individuals whose work impacts their personal lives.