Do therapists go to therapy? Hell yes! It is absolutely imperative that therapists know what it feels like to be sitting on the couch. If you are going into this field and expect to show up for people in this capacity, then you absolutely have to do your own work and, at the very least, know what it’s like to be vulnerable by showing up and sharing your story each week. Therapists are taught in school that, like all humans, we have unconscious biases that we must become aware of, explore, and process so that we do not harm our clients. Not only is therapy imperative for us personally like everyone else, it’s important for us professionally to sit where the client sits.
As therapists, we are not immune to the pain and struggle of human existence. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have all of our shit together either. Your therapist is not awesome and helpful because they are perfect and don’t ever struggle with their own mental health. Your therapist is awesome and helpful because they have experienced, and continue to experience and overcome their own challenges that have made them more empathic and uniquely equipped to help you with your own.
We have our own personal lives full of messy situations and relationships, and we also hold the space for other people’s personal lives full of messy situations and relationships. This is not to say that our clients are burdens on us, AT ALL. The greatest honor and most fulfilling aspect of my work is knowing that the person in front of me has trusted me to hold the space for their deepest, darkest pain and suffering. However, we do hear and take in a lot of painful and traumatic material and it’s important that we take care of ourselves, just like we tell our clients to do. Burnout, or compassion fatigue as it can be referred to in the helping professions, is very real. All that “you can’t pour from an empty cup” business is no joke!
Therapy for therapists, just like for our clients, gives us the space to share what we are feeling and experiencing and gives us the tools to manage our stress and emotions. To me, attending weekly therapy is part of my self-care routine. Sometimes if I’ve had a particularly rough week, it feels like I’ve been holding my breath all week, and attending my therapy session is a big sigh of relief that I can finally exhale.
It’s important for therapists to be open and transparent about attending therapy. We don’t need to share the details with anyone, but therapists being open about going to therapy can help reduce the shame and stigma that still, unfortunately, plagues our society and ultimately diminishes help-seeking behaviors. Being a human is super hard sometimes, especially now, and it’s okay for all of us to acknowledge that we sometimes need another awesome human being to help us through.
If you’re based in New York or Connecticut and would like to schedule a FREE phone consultation for individual therapy, please contact me here.