A Therapist in Therapy
July 17, 2012 by
Categories: Human

Last month, I sat in on a lecture to new therapists about the ins and outs of private practice. When asked if they were in personal therapy, each of them responded with a shy shake of the head. The lecturer was surprised and exclaimed “Oh my gosh, why not?”  She immediately instructed them to find a therapist.

During my own training to become a therapist, I attended a wedding where I was reunited with some friends from high school. When I explained that I was not only a new therapist but also saw a personal therapist, a friend asked, “Why do you need counseling? Shouldn’t you be able to do that yourself?”

The idea that therapists should not need therapy is a common one. Yet, the truth is that becoming the “client” can offer valuable insight into my inner self and enhance my own ability to help others.

“Therapist must be familiar with their own dark side and be able to empathize with all human wishes and impulses.” –Irvin D. Yalom 

My most valuable therapeutic resource is my ability to access my own emotions, thoughts, and impulses. My personal experiences allow me to understand more deeply the experiences of a client.  As you can imagine, sometimes even a medical doctor needs the opinion of a trusted colleague when it comes to his own healthcare. Unfortunately, similar to clients, I can also become stuck in the struggles of my own life, preventing me from accessing my ability to empathize with clients.When this happens, I can feel my work lose some of its power.


Regardless of if I attend formal therapy or a weekly meeting with other therapists – and I’ve done both – the
conversations allow me to gain insight on what prevents me from being there for clients. These invaluable moments give me strength to tackle what arises in my personal life and in the therapy room.

Overall, I welcome the insight of others. It’s what helps me grow.

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