Sigmund Freud once said: “Anyone who wishes to practice analysis should first submit to be analyzed himself by a competent person.” The ideas in this post are important for people choosing a therapist and for therapists themselves.
If you’re looking for a therapist, asking whether or not a therapist has been in treatment is an important and legitimate question to ask. It is unfortunate that being in treatment is not a requirement for becoming a therapist. Being a therapist requires more than theoretical knowledge and being a warm person. After all, would you trust a personal trainer who knows anatomy and is enjoyable to spend time with, but doesn’t exercise? Or a dentist with poor oral hygiene? A nutritionist who scarfs Snickers bars every time you meet? A money manager who doesn’t invest? A website designer without a website? If a person believes in the value of their profession, shouldn’t he or she use it in his or her own life?
Why Is Therapy Important for Therapists?
The primary reason therapy is important for therapists that everyone has issues. Therapists are no exception. It’s important for therapists to not let their issues get in the way of treating their patients effectively.
If you’re a therapist, you may find yourself treating someone who gets on your nerves at some point in your career. It can be helpful to process what is going on for you that causes you to have a negative reaction to your patient. On your own, you may not come up with the fact that this patient reminds you in some way of your mean sister, your rigid father, your irresponsible mother, or yourself in the past, to name a few possibilities. But in your own therapy, your therapist can point this out and help you find the empathy for your patient, which you need in order to do good treatment.
Other Benefits for Therapists in Therapy
Getting Better With Boundaries
The therapist-patient relationship will, at times, run into boundary issues. How far can you push in the name of helping? How much are you willing to share with a curious or even intrusive client? Being in therapy is the ideal setting for practicing these skills.
Developing Deeper Empathy
The experience of being the patient is a powerful tool for developing a higher level of empathy. A therapist who is also in therapy gets to experience “both sides” of the couch. When you are in treatment yourself, you can better comprehend the frustrations and satisfactions your patients may be experiencing with you.
Getting Expert Feedback
Sure, it’s less than ideal for a therapist that he or she can’t talk about the details of work with his or her friends or family. However, when you as a therapist share with your own therapist, the benefits are vast. This is a peer who completely understands your struggle, and that’s invaluable.
Individuals can suffer trauma whether they are the victim or the witness. Think about that when you consider how much trauma the average therapist hears on a daily basis. Without proper self-care, which includes therapy, the workload has a massive potential to cause burnout. If you met anyone in a similar situation, you would strongly advise them to seek counseling. A therapist is no different. As a therapist you cannot offer effective treatment and stay healthy without taking specific steps to assure these outcomes. You have to know where you stop and start and where the other person stops and starts in order to avoid carrying your patients’ burdens into your life, as if they are yours.
What makes being a therapist fulfilling can also be challenging. It only makes sense that a therapist would rely on the very techniques they espouse. Let’s connect so you can learn how therapy can help you deal with your issues, whether you’re a therapist or not.