Therapist….heal thyself.

Here’s a thing I’ve noticed about being a therapist – the same things tend to come up in session after session. Those things are different week to week, but techniques and subject matters seem to repeat. I’m pretty sure that’s a reflection of my own stuff and what I’m hearing/listening for at any given time.

The shame and guilt thing from yesterday has come up a lot lately.

The ideas of balance and self care being a medicine have also come up a lot.

These are things that I talk about with ALL of my clients, true. But they also seem to be things that I’m struggling with in my own life. Part of being a therapist, then, is continuing to monitor these things and asking myself whether I’m just working through my own stuff on someone else’s time or if I’m working from a truly therapeutic mindset.

To be clear, this is an important part of therapy and a thing that most therapists have to do. In order to stay present we have to be mindful of what’s the client’s need and what’s our own.

That’s part of what I like about writing like this every day. It forces me to think about what I need and what my clients need. I love therapy because I love learning about how people think and react, but what has been the biggest realization for me is that not everyone thinks and reacts the same way that I do.

Shocking. I know. But it really did surprise me.

We all have reasons for the way that we feel – both biological and environmental. We learn how to be in the world by being in the world, but we’re genetically predisposed to see different aspects of the world in different ways. To respond to stimuli in different ways. The simple truth is that different people’s bodies release different hormones in response to the same situations. Much like some people are diabetic and some are not and people can become diabetic through their environment and behaviors – some people are prone to depression and some people are not and some people become depressed in response to their environment or the events of their life.

I think there’s a relief in accepting this. In knowing that it’s not all in our control and the way we react is not all our FAULT. We’re all just doing the best that we can.

That said, as a therapist I promised my clients that the best I can means parking my stuff at the door when I’m working with them. Sure, the relationship is important and I am a person in that relationship, but it must be somewhat one-sided by its very definition. I’m not seeking support and understanding from my clients – I’m offering it. I love that I get to offer it. It helps me to put my stuff in perspective and to give me a break from it – if I’m honest.

So, back to me for a bit – I’m struggling with my self care and I’ve been irritable with my family. These are things I notice kind of concurrently. It’s hard to get off the couch to do the things I need to do – like go to the grocery store, do the laundry, go for a run. Those things are feeling overwhelming. The therapist in me knows that when I’m low motivation I need to take my medicine and just do, rather than avoid. But the non-therapist person says, I’m not teetering on the edge of a mild depressive episode because I don’t feel unhappy. Just blah.

I think just saying it here is helpful because it forces me to think about how true it is that I’m not unhappy. It’s not an existential concern, I feel pretty good about my life, but I’m also feeling a bit cut off from joy. It’s a performative happiness rather than an actual one.

I need to get back to my medicine – to running and self care and going to bed because sleep is my silver bullet. I need to start asking for support and love from my family and to accept that it’s ok if I’m not all together right now.

Therapist heal thyself a bit. It’s time.

Published by alexm1008

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor practicing in Houston, Texas. I specialize in helping clients develop skills and strategies to feel more in control of their emotions and behaviors. I am also a wife and mother of two who loves to run and travel (particularly to Disney World with my kids and without).

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