Thoughts From This Therapist: Therapists Are People Too
The works in this series will always be the opinion of the writer (me, Rebecca). Therapy and healing is not a one-size-fits-all box, so keep that in mind when reading. Everything in this series will come from my experiences both as a therapist and patient. I hope it gives you insight into different perspectives, and gives me a place to share thoughts on topics I feel are important. Enjoy!
One time I was working with a client and out of the blue they said to me “Ya know, I didn’t realize that you were a person too. I neglected to see that you have a life outside of this office.” I laughed, because this is such a common, non-spoken thought.
In the past therapists often were taught to never share anything personal and not have personal effects in their offices (I was told this when I started out! And was like why?!). However, I find that this often creates a void in the therapeutic relationship, not always allowing for a trusting bond to build between therapist and client. Now, I am not saying us therapists should be in session sharing all our details about our lives and talking about us the whole time— of course not!
However, there are times when it can be relevant to share something. I was given the advice of “ask yourself are you saying this for you or for your client? If it is for your client then it is most likely appropriate to share. If it is for you keep your mouth shut.” And I have taken that to heart.
There have been multiple times with clients that doing little personal shares has helped them, and they tell me that. It also helps them remember I am human too. I have a family, kids, pets, and responsibilities outside of being a therapist.
All therapists have responsibilities outside of being a therapist (like all people have responsibilities outside of their jobs) and so when we don’t respond right away or don’t have certain hours available, remember that’s why. If we have to cancel because we are sick, it’s because we are human too. We also take vacations and time off and we do this so that we can be the best therapist we can, by taking care of ourselves too.
On top of all of that we all also have a story. For many of us our story is why we do what we do. Also, that story means that we too have worked on (or are working on) our own stuff. A lot of us are currently in therapy ourselves.
Seeing your therapist as a person too can help you feel more trusting of them. It helps you to know that they don’t just have a degree and specialized training, but also personal experience that helps guide their way. Therapy is not about us as the therapist and we all know that, but keeping in mind that we are people helps you feel more comfortable with us.
Another thing is that it is highly possible that we could see each other in public some time. Either out shopping, eating, or at a bar. It happens and when it does most of us therapists will be cordial and pretend that you are just another person we are running into. We will not out you as a client or ask you personal questions in public; we are just humans out doing human things, the same as you. I personally choose to let my clients guide how any public interaction goes, if it occurs. Your privacy is a top priority for me.
So, when working with therapists please remember we are people and we have lives. You are important to us from a professional standpoint, and our personal lives are important also, and we have to balance those things to do the best we can for ourselves and our clients.
Are there other topics you would like me to cover? Any thoughts on this topic? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find us on social media (@therapeutichealingjourney on Instagram or @llctherapeutic on Twitter).