Why Therapists Need Their Own Therapist
I Was a Therapist That Hadn’t Gone to Therapy...
I’d had my master’s degree for 12 years and had been licensed for 3 years when I went to therapy for the first time, while working as a therapist. I kept hearing other therapists talking about how they became therapists after going to therapy themselves and others talking about how they have their own therapists but what really got me thinking was the advice of a consultant to go to therapy to further understand my client’s experience. It led me to ask myself, “why hadn’t I ever been to therapy?”
Why I hadn’t gone
I had to dig deep to answer this question. I mean it was free during college, I had good insurance right after graduate school in my first job, and looking back, I sure could have used it during my young adult years. I had to face the fact that perhaps growing up as a Mexican American and being taught that “the dirty laundry is washed at home” could’ve been a factor. Or that somehow, I believed, “helpers should have it all together.” Regardless of the reason, I found myself face to face with my own anxiety being confused with a physical condition for me to go, “Oh crap, this is anxiety, maybe I should go to therapy!”
How I chose my therapist
Once I accepted that I needed help, next was choosing a therapist. Talk about the client experience! I stumbled upon my therapist while networking. As I was learning about her, I thought “she is a great referral source for my clients, she’s so good, I want to see her!” So, I abruptly asked, “I know this is awkward because we are here to network but do you see therapists?” She said she did and the next week, I was in her office. I committed to short term therapy because I soon would be starting my practice in another city.
What I learned
The short-term commitment of 6 weeks was invaluable because I learned about myself while relating to the client experience. I had the anxiety leading up to the first session, I felt the vulnerability of crying on a couch while feeling exposed, and I learned skills to deal with my people pleasing, overachieving, perfectionistic ways. I learned what it’s like to have my therapist, my time, and my space to talk without being judged, blamed, or minimized, all of which I feared prior to attending therapy.
What I gained
I already said I gained skills, that was the big one. The panic attacks went away, and I haven’t had them since. I know my triggers and I take care of myself. I gained knowledge and strategies for my own clients. I gained the ability to be a testament to the fact that therapy works. Through therapy, I owned my story with confidence, without shame, and as a result, I am more passionate about the work I do with my clients.
In my master’s degree program, I wasn’t required to go to counseling. I’ve heard other programs require it or strongly suggest it. No matter where you are in your career, a student, a registered intern, or already a therapist, if you haven’t gone to therapy, I suggest you go. I used to think I was the only one out there that hadn’t been and in case I’m not, I say this to you: Go and try it. There is a lot to be learned, a lot to gain from the gift we have been given to share with others.