Being a Therapist, Having a Therapist

Being a Therapist, Having a Therapist

            Providing care to another individual is a rewarding and honorable position. As social beings, having healthy connection and community makes for a fulfilling life, among other necessary and essential components of course, but let us focus on the importance of physical, spiritual, and emotional human connection. You know the kind where we feel indubitably open to express ourselves whole-heartedly because the person in front of us genuinely cares and makes our voice heard, our experience valued. A kind of connection that is confidentially accommodating to parts of us that may have never been shared, or perhaps parts that we are struggling to work through on our own. Afterall, everyone needs someone. Therapists hold a great privilege of valuing, understanding, and supporting their clients lived experience. With the privilege of tending to someone else’s well-being comes the obligation to consistently prioritize our own.

Emotional regulation within a therapeutic session bargains a trained and practiced emotional intelligence from becoming triggered into our own repressed memories; we must remain diligent in the dance of balancing empathy and honouring another person’s emotion as their own. Therapists engage in a spiritual process that takes intentional effort to let go of bias and personal persuasion. This spiritual process can be referred to as centering into the essence of Self, where we become innately responsible for our personal sense of being, creating a spiritual boundary around the emotion that belongs to me, the therapist, and recognizing the experience to that of my client, separate from myself. In the sense of spirituality for which this process pertains to is not an existential force, nor a light or figure that holds subjective opinion and ideology; here I am specifically speaking to the intrinsic self-awareness a helping professional requires to remain intentional with words and body language, regulated within their own containment, with the obligation to frequently reflect and assess our personal limits. An essential concept of being a helper is to remove the power dynamic; the person I am working with is no less and I am no more. We are merely mortals connecting on a cellular level through the complexities and dynamics of the human experience. The aptitude and necessity for professional psychological connection is a paramount component to process grief, trauma, and other natural human emotions for long term and effective overall personal healing and growth.

In a therapeutic alliance, boundaries must be drawn through ethics, professionalism, and conscious decision-making. How may I practice actively listening to my client’s story without pausing them? How may I ask essential questions that align to their unique purpose and goals for therapy? How may I remain regulated and attentive to their body language, facial expression, and inverted emotion (as well as my own)? A respected therapist must remain in control of their own intuitive journey within the confines of the therapy space and in their personal life. Do our boundaries have purpose that mutually benefit the well-being of the client and respectfully align with the abilities of the therapist? As a helper, how do we avoid burnout and ensure our sense of self is being looked after? An experienced social worker once said, “You can only take people as far as you have gone yourself.” Let us helpers be tended to as well. Every good therapist has a good therapist because our well-being is important too. If we do not look after ourselves then what happens to our clients? I believe it to be an essential component of the helping profession, that being a therapist requires having professional supervision and guidance to work through the complexities of the therapy world. We cannot ignore the emotional weight we carry as helpers because as helpers we deeply care and honour the experience of our clients. When we listen to another’s sorrows consecutively, we must acknowledge the impact it has on our own mental and emotional well-being. We must have strategies and tools to continue with optimal care for ourselves and our clients. Our own life stories have guided and influenced our decisions in profound ways to why we have chosen this career path. Personal growth with a therapeutic supervisor is a great resource for continuing professional development and attending to our clients with rejuvenated care and energy. If you are a therapist without your own personal/professional support, consider the affect this solitude has on your well-being, on your family, and your clients. We all deserve someone to hear our story too.

Written by: Cayle Fiala, Canadian Certified Counsellor

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