A Therapists View
Becoming a therapist isn’t something you dream of as a child, it isn’t a magical calling, it isn’t even a reality for usually a very long time. The journey into therapy is more often marked by a lot of hurt, anger and huge learning in life. As a social worker in my early career I was once asked what was so awful about my own life that I felt the need to fix others. I was taken aback so early in my career, full of energy and life all I wanted to do was help others. Nursing was not the career for me as I dreaded having to wear a uniform and was really quite weak around blood. Teaching seemed just a little bit too disciplined for what I regarded as my carefree personality. In truth like so many adolescents I really did not know what I wanted to be doing next year let alone for the rest of my life. The aptitude and [personality tests highlighted I was more right brain than left brain, math’s was the Bain of my life so really needed to choose a caeer that was about as math’s free as possible, social work came calling. The points were reasonable and repeating the leaving cert gave me a better chance to apply myself second time round.
To say that I was naïve entering social work was most defiantly an understatement. In hindsight my naivety afforded me the opportunity to really work on my own gut instinct. I was frequently upset, worked more hours but was consistently more and more interested in what I did. I wanted more and after many years in social work I finally plucked up the courage to train as a therapist.
“Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.”
For most therapists who take the long training route it is one of huge commitment and interest. The personal therapy, the group therapy, the course work are all under the experiential spotlight. It is rare to get away with too many secrets or issues when in therapy. Every anxiety, every fear, every issue is up for debate and discussion. Sometimes you make some friends, other times long standing friendships can end. I don’t believe that anyone comes out of a training programme the same person. There are many losses and gains along the way.
As I sit with my clients now I am very fortunate. I have chosen a career, which means I need to be completely interested in my own process so that I can be fully available to another’s story. This interest in me has taken time and it is always under scrutiny, looking for new avenues of support and overall interested in life. Without this interest in myself I would not be able to hear when someone holds their breath, to notice the flicker of pain in the eyes to hear the humour in some tears.
Therapy remains an important part of my life, as it feels now as natural and supportive as a sunny day. So as I gaze out at the changing seasons this winter I am always mindful of the many seasons that we go though in our life and the nurture that we need to deal with each celebration, each milestone and each tragedy. We are all of us human and each of us is vulnerable to change in many different ways. Being a therapist enables me to be mindful of my journey so that I can be available to the client’s journey. I may not have experienced some of the issues that a client presents with, however I have the mind sight to sit and really listen. These listening skills have taken a long time to attune as the social worker in me would loved to have fixed everything. The interested therapist will take the time to pause and listen with understanding. This of itself is a well-developed skill, which takes a lot of trial and error.
“Friends are those rare people who ask how you are, and then wait to hear the answer..”
“Think of your head as an unsafe neighborhood; don’t go there alone.”
Often people will ask me when I am out if I am analyzing them, I always find this interesting as I am usually far more interested in listening to someone rather than formulating some interesting hypothesis on my observations. People are interesting and varied and rarely are we without some vulnerability, some hurt, some shame. Often our wounds run deep and need time, support and patience to heal. I believe from my work that when a person is ready therapy can be a supportive place to explore options, strengths and limitations. I believe it is good for us all to know what we do well, how our past or our difficult thoughts may sometimes limit us and how we all need to know our boundaries and limitations.
To my mind I have the best job for me, I believe that it sometimes takes time to find the right fit between therapist and client and I would encourage anyone looking for therapy today to take their time and find the right fit,
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