Therapy for Therapists: Why It’s Needed
As a therapist, have you ever been in a therapy session and had a client tell you that they feel they are not making enough progress? How do you respond? How do you feel on a personal level when a client disagrees or challenges your therapeutic style?
When a client challenges an intervention or discusses lack of progress in a session, it can be very difficult for a therapist not to internalize or become defensive. What are your automatic thoughts telling you, “Oh my gosh, she’s right I’m a horrible therapist” or “Oh no, what does she think? She isn’t even doing any of the homework we talk about.” Or even “Wow, I need to talk to my therapist and supervisor about this?”
What might feel better to you is to feel a little off balance, but to use my skills to get out of my head, be inside my window of tolerance, and have an open discussion with this client about what was just brought up. This is the place that all therapists strive to be in, to be able to manage their own stuff during sessions so you can continue to focus on your clients and their needs.
Therapy for Therapists versus Clinical Supervision
Therapy for therapists, as well as clinical supervision or consultation, is a necessary part of self-care. A well-trained clinical supervisor will regularly check in on countertransference for things that might come up for you during your sessions. In supervision, you can gain a basic understanding of any personal entanglement in the therapy room.
In cases like these, supervisors might then suggest taking the deeper work to your therapist. Yes, supervisors are there to guide and help, but also to demonstrate boundaries in taking those complex, vulnerable layers to your therapist. Yes, therapy for therapies is needed and here is why.
1. Countertransference is Worth Exploring in Therapy
In the case of countertransference or parallel process, therapy offers a safe, and appropriate place to process personal and professional stress. Therapy sheds light on how those past experiences keep showing up in different relationships, including interactions with clients.
Have you ever had an experience where you realized that your client reminds you of your mother, who died several years ago? Maybe you notice that you have this intense need for that client to accept you, thus having your mother finally accept you. Yikes! Therapy helps you process those ghosts in the past so that your past doesn’t affect your clinical work.
2. Therapy Helps with Identifying Coping Skills
Therapy also reminds us that we have coping mechanisms. Sometimes even therapists forget the tools we have in our toolbox. Therapy helps build tools, teaching us to be mindful and aware of our internal and external processes, so we can show up for our clients no matter what energy is in the room.
All the coping tools we teach our clients must be also in our toolbox. Whether it be breath work, CBT, tapping, visualizations, parts work, or any grounding tool, keeping our window of tolerance wide is crucial in any type of clinical work for your clinical interventions to be successful.
3. Counseling Addresses Imposter Syndrome for Therapists
Lastly, attending therapy regularly can help you crush that feeling of shame or imposter syndrome! Have you ever tried to find a new therapist as a therapist yourself? OMG! I would rather accidentally step in a pile of soft, gooey cat vomit everyday then try to find a good fit in a therapist! It is hard for sure.
Once you cross this crucial step and find someone you connect with, therapy reminds you of what it feels like to sit on the other side of the couch. Therapy offers an authentic life aligned with your values, where you can feel confident to sit across from another and know you’re not just talking the talk and hiding behind a veil.
Therapy for Therapists Helps Prevent Burnout
Therapists and others in the mental health and counseling field are highly susceptible to vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout due to the nature of our profession and our empathic personalities. Shifting the narrative to start believing that therapy for therapists is vital, begins with you.
Many times in my career, I’ve had to reset and give myself “permission'' to take care of myself. Do all the “shoulds” in your mind create a barrier to taking care of yourself? When I work with other therapists, I often hear “I should be able to take care of myself.” Having the support of a therapist that you trust creates the foundation of a joyful, aligned life.
If you’re a therapist in Colorado looking for your own therapist, Kristen Dammer specializes in working with other therapists. Contact us for a free 20-minute phone consultation to see if Kristen is the right fit for you!
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Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:
Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Kristen Dammer believes in addressing the whole health needs of you as a person, and her dedication, creativity, and flexibility as a therapist are her greatest strengths. Her holistic approach to anxiety, grief and trauma helps you feel in control and creates a welcoming environment for you to share your vulnerabilities, fears, and experiences. She is trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and uses it to treat anxiety and trauma. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.