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Strength in Vulnerability: The Power of Therapists as Clients

“Have you been to therapy?” Clients ask this question of their therapists more frequently than any other question (Gleeson, 2022). The therapist can respond with anxiety or anger.  Or, the therapist can use this opportunity to teach clients that no one is exempt from life problems.

Anyone who attends therapy shows strength, not weakness.

There may be no greater resource for a clinician — including supervision and personalized self-care — than regularly meeting with a therapist” (Gleeson, 2022)

Sigmund Freud, the “father” of psychotherapy, believed that clinicians should not practice therapy until they have experienced their own (Chamlou, 2022).

therapists need a safe space, too

Therapists have a complicated job that requires clear thinking.  Emotional overload from personal conflicts can inhibit good decision making.  Over-identifying with a client prevents separation of personal issues from that of the client.  Thinking about one’s own problems during a client session results in limited awareness of and attention to the client.

Human beings express micro-aggressions (or prejudicial thoughts) through fleeting facial expressions. Awareness of biases helps the clinician be less likely to express hurtful opinions inadvertently (Moe & Thimm, 2022). 

Therapists seek their own treatment for help with those concerns and several others:

  • Clarify understanding of the therapist-client relationship
  • Reduce work stress
  • Discover a new social situation 
  • Experience the role of a patient 
  • Observe clinical tools used by another therapist

 

Researchers (Moe & Thimm, 2022) report that therapists have several goals for their treatment:

  • Gain a more satisfying life 
  • Develop an increased sense of competence 
  • Prove to themselves that therapeutic treatment is effective
  • Expand expertise as a “healer “
  • Enhance respect for the problems of others
  • Learn how to model skills for the client

the value of therapy & self reflection in a therapist's life

Clinicians are human; they get upset and need to vent frustrations appropriately (not with a client and usually not with colleagues). They deserve a safe person in whom to confide, one who is other than family, friends, and colleagues.

The majority of therapists who go to therapy report new insights, changed behaviors, emotional relief, and a better understanding of the therapist-client relationship. They find out first-hand how warmth, empathy, patience, and tolerance from another person fosters relationships (Moe & Thimm, 2022).

Therapists who have been to therapy are more likely to notice to their own behavior during the session, think about it later, and correct themselves accordingly. They might be more willing to accept criticism and to explore issues with the client rather than take personal offense. Moreover, clinicians can offer compassion if they have known compassion themselves.

In the words of Socrates “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Consider joining the countless others who say “therapy saved my life”. Request a free 20-minute consultation with a Sea Glass Mental Health therapist today!

References

Chamlou, N. (August, 2022). Why mental health workers need therapy too. Psychology.org. https://www.psychology.org/resources/mental-health-workers-need-therapy-too/

Gleeson, Scott (February 2022). Why your own therapy is so important as a counselor. Counseling Today. https://ct.counseling.org/2022/02/why-your-own-therapy-is-so-important-as-counselor/

Fredrik D. Moe & Jens Thimm (2021) Personal therapy and the personal therapist, Nordic Psychology, 73:1, 3-28, DOI: 10.1080/19012276.2020.1762713

Meet The Author

Pam Wagner, Clinical Therapist and Social Worker at Sea Glass Mental Health in Arizona

PAM WAGNER

LMSW, LPC, CTS-1

Meet The Author

Pam is a Clinical Therapist at Sea Glass Mental Health. She works with adults, couples, and families. Pam specializes in female childhood trauma, chronic pain, PTSD, and EMDR.

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