As therapists, we frequently find ourselves advising friends, loved ones, and potential clients that going to therapy is a good thing. We tell them that when they are struggling, it’s okay to seek support. We fight against the stigma related to therapy and stand up for the value of the care we provide to our clients. However, we don’t always do a great job of remembering the necessity and value of therapy when we're struggling ourselves. In this blog, we’ll take some time to remind you, fellow therapist, why it’s so important to remember to take our own advice and touch base with a therapist regularly.
1 – We Bring Our Own "Stuff" Into Our Work
You know what I'm talking about — it's called countertransference and it's a normal things that all therapists encounter in their work. Many therapists choose to work in this field because we've experienced our own anxiety, depression, trauma, attachment wounds, or other emotional challenges. While this history allows us to empathize with our clients and bring a genuine passion and dedication to our work, it also means we need to closely monitor our reactions to clients to ensure we keep our countertransference in check. If you find that you're having a strong reaction to a particular client, or that you're struggling to remain neutral or hold space for certain issues in sessions, you might want to consider working with your own therapist.
2 – The Work of Therapy Is Taxing
Let's face it — providing therapy can be emotionally taxing. We work with people who are struggling. We listen to their difficult stories, hold space for their traumas, and work hard to help them heal. We feel their pain. We walk alongside them through difficult experiences. Sometimes, our clients are angry or frustrated. Sometimes, their anger and frustrate is directed at us! It’s a difficult and challenging job that can take its toll on us emotionally. If you find that you're feeling overwhelmed or burned out, seeking your own therapy can help you work through some of the emotions you're carrying and regain your love for your work again.
3 – Our Clients Deserve to See Us at Our Best
I consider the therapy room to be a sacred space that allows for deep emotional healing, which requires us to be "on" for every session. Because the work we do can be so intense, each of our clients deserves to see us when we are on our game. When we're dealing with our own anxieties, insecurities, or triggers, we may need some extra support to ensure we're maintaining a level of emotional stability that allows us to provide the best care we can for our clients.
4 – Truly Making Self-Care a Priority
How many times have you reminded your client (or your friend or loved one) that therapy is self-care? In order to be a great therapist and the best version of who you are, you have to make self-care a priority. Real self-care focuses on ensuring you are not just physically but emotionally healthy as well. Regular therapy sessions give you a place you know you can process your own "stuff" with someone who gets it.
5 – We're Human
Therapists aren't perfect — we're regular human beings who have normal human experiences like struggling with stress and overwhelm, coping with grief and loss, facing insecurities and self-doubt, or dealing with challenging relationship patterns. As a therapist, you may think that you shouldn't need your own therapist... since you help your clients navigate these situations, you should be able to find your way through them yourself right? Well, it doesn't really work like that. Just because you know how to help other people through tough times doesn't mean you can do it for yourself. Working with a therapist can offer a layer of support that you just can't offer yourself when you're the one struggling.
Wondering if you would benefit from therapy?
I hear all the time that therapists have a hard time finding their own therapist with whom to work. I specialize in working with fellow clinicians using a collaborative, strengths-based, psychodynamic approach. Whether you’re looking for a new therapist or you’ve been skipping therapy recently, Beachside Counseling is here for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out when you’re ready to get started.
About the Author
Christine Tomasello is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Founder of Beachside Counseling in San Diego, CA, where she helps clients work through grief and loss, major life changes, and challenging relationship patterns. Christine identifies as a helper, healer, and highly sensitive person (HSP), and specializes in working with other therapists, helpers, healers, and HSPs.