Welcome to my very first post (GULP!). Actually, this is truly more like my third post, because truth be told, I wrote two before this one. But, I was reading a really lovely blog tutorial, and the author encouraged newer bloggers to be story tellers, and let people into their world. I loved this idea, and thought it would be a great place to start. There’s just one problem with this…
As the therapist, it’s never about you.
So, telling a “me” story seems quite unnatural. It took me forever just to write the four or so paragraphs on my “It’s me” page. But, as a human, who also happens to be a therapist, I have a lot to say. I would like you all to get to know me, and the therapeutic process very much; so please bear with me as I venture into making this blog a little about me too.
I guess I’ll start with this and see how it goes.
The Therapist in her Natural Environment
When most people outside of the field find out what I do the reaction is usually one of two things. First, the cheesy response, something to the effect of “Can you figure out what’s going on with my friend over here” (cue awkward laughter). Second, some derivative of “Woah, that must be hard”. I don’t know what to tell you about the first reaction, except I wouldn’t miss it if I never heard it again. However, I have plenty to say about the second.
Being a therapist can be many things; inspiring, humbling, funny, frustrating, exhausting, uplifting, and yes, hard. But probably not in the ways you think it might be.
The truth is that being in a caretaking profession is hard because it is never about you. You give of yourself all day and then, if you have kids or a partner, or both, you go home and keep giving. The tank can empty quickly if you aren’t taking care of yourself. And believe me, it has. Self care and your own therapy (Yes, therapists go to therapy too!) is vital in this profession.
I always say that it can be a weird profession, you’re there to assist others, and they aren’t supposed to be worried about your needs. However, at times when clients truly don’t realize you are a person too, it can be very difficult. For instance, when a client demands a later or earlier appointment they may not realize that you have children that need to be dropped off at school in the morning, or require your help with homework in the evening. In these situations, it can be tough to not give everything of yourself and your family, or to become a little resentful.
Conversely, being in a caretaking profession can be the most uplifting, inspiring career in the world. Difficult moments in session can be a gentle reminder of the blessings in your own life. Watching a client make little bits of progress can make your heart soar. Sending my graduated seniors off to college each summer fills me with joy and anticipation for the experiences they will have and the growth that will take place.
As a therapist, you invest in peoples’ lives. I have had a few clients question my genuine care and appreciation of them because it’s my job to care. I can only speak for myself here, but even the prickliest clients have a place in my heart, they are all humans who are struggling with something. I can connect with that; so I invest in them and their progress. It can be hard to watch a person you care about struggle, or cling to their anxiety/depression because it’s familiar and getting better is scary, or remain in an unhealthy relationship, or not be able to see the amazing person that you see when they are sitting across from you.
Yes, these things are hard, but there is hard stuff in any job. And I’d take the tough stuff in mine every day because it also comes with incredibly brave, unique, cool humans sitting on my couch each week, letting me into their world. That’s pretty awesome.