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  • Writer's pictureMolly Schroeder, LMHC

I am a therapist that still goes to therapy

When a client first comes in for therapy and sits down across from me, I can typically sense if they are going to be open or resistant to the process. I remember exactly what that feels like from my own quest to find support.

Now, as an LMHC, my first questions to a prospective client are based around previous experiences with therapy and their overall take-aways. I really want to know what your judgments are on therapy – and therapists.

Many people subscribe to the notion that therapists are some sort of all-knowing, all-seeing force of wisdom and knowledge. You lay out your problems and questions while the therapist takes wordless notes, diagnoses the problem and then tells you what to do. Worse yet, many people believe that the role of therapists is to JUDGE others. This belief holds people back from seeking treatment in the first place. Why would you willingly enter a situation just to feel put down or condemned?! No wonder people continue to balk at the idea of therapy.

I can assure you that my role includes zero judgment of you or the issues that brought you to my office.

You know why I don’t judge?

Because I am in therapy too.

WHY AM I IN THERAPY?


Simply explained - I am human.

And with that humanity comes myriad issues, problems, struggles and failures. All of which feel like a terrible burden to carry throughout life. Personally, I got really tired of it. I wanted some resolution. And for that, I needed help. Professional help.

Just like all my clients (and humans in general), my life has not been perfect. I did not come from a Leave It to Beaver family- or any other more current and relatable sitcom family (showing my age here?). I came from a family with a host of unique challenges and the impact that it had on me was massive. In fact, the life I have led up until this very moment, has been filled with the same types of issues that many of my clients currently suffer from.

I have endured suicidal depression and paralyzing anxiety. I have battled addictions and self-harming behaviors. I have entered and continued unhealthy relationships well past their expiration date. And I have struggled with my self-worth and value as a woman, friend, partner, mother and daughter.


THERAPY DID NOT ‘FIX’ ME


I have experienced a lot of traumas in my past and I have worked extraordinarily hard to move through them with the help of therapy. But that does not mean that all my problems have been solved and I no longer face difficulties. My issues are not “resolved” simply because I found a kickass therapist. No way! I have a long way to go toward my ultimate goals.

It is a misconception that putting in time at the therapist’s office must mean that I am all better now. This is not a situation where you find a comfortable therapist to talk to, divulge your darkest secrets and feelings, and then they “repair” your problems for you. It doesn’t work like that!

This fallacy of the therapeutic process ties back to the idea that a therapist is somehow flawless or does not suffer; we have miraculously healed all our wounds and are free from ever experiencing more. And now, as a perfectly healed and healthy therapist, I can dole out wisdom and instruction from my towering seat of judgment.

That is a lot of pressure and, in fact, quite the opposite is true.

I am a work in progress. My own healing journey through therapy is not over, things are not fully resolved, and new conflicts arise every day that need to be addressed.


WHY AM I NOT ‘BETTER’ YET?


Well, I am better…I’m just not done.

Ultimately, therapy is a long process. There is no quick fix, magic bullet, or pill to swallow. We refer to therapy as a journey for a reason – it takes time to get from one place to another.

While I started out in therapy a quivering pile of emotional goo, I am now much more confident, capable and happy than I have been in a lifetime of strife. I have skills and tools to deal with conflict or crisis when it inevitably arises. I work every single day to utilize the skills that my therapist has helped hone.

I am better than I was yesterday.


THERE IS NO FINISH LINE


Have you ever been on a diet or started a new workout plan? Maybe you bust your ass for a couple months and see some great results. You lose weight, you drop some sizes, and you feel fantastic. So, you start to relax and just bask in the glow of your success.

Then you gain back ten pounds and outgrow your new skinny jeans.

This happens because health is a journey, not a destination. You do not hit some imaginary finish line and then get to kick back and cruise with your feet up on the dashboard. You must keep working at it every single day to maintain what you achieved.

Every. Single. Day.

The same goes for mental health.

I did not get relief from my emotional woes through hard work and commitment to then just stop. I have to keep using the same skills, tools and resources I adopted in order to keep this train running.


DO YOU REALLY TELL YOUR CLIENTS THIS STUFF?!


Abosolutely!

While it is not typical for a therapist to share such personal information, I have found that it sets my client’s minds at ease and paints a picture of equality in the therapeutic relationship. Personally, I have made some rather questionable and embarrassing choices in my past and I feel much more comfortable sharing that with someone that can empathize, rather than a rigid caricature of a therapist that stares at me unblinking and unrelatable.

Sharing part of my own therapeutic journey is an important element in building the therapeutic alliance (fancy therapist words for ‘creating a relationship out of thin air’) and creates a sense of comfort and connection with the people I work with. It teaches them that I am not “better” than them in any conceivable way. I am not faultless or perfect and I certainly do not judge!

Now, this does not mean that I spend YOUR session time talking about MY personal issues. It means I give a quick run-down of who I am as a person, how I came to be that person and why I am a damn good therapist.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

It is time we dispel old beliefs around therapy and the therapeutic process.

My goal is to create a setting where people feel completely safe to share their life’s story with me. I want for YOU to reap the benefits that I have personally experienced through mental health therapy.

I hope that this is useful in helping you to decide if therapy is right for you. I can assure you; it is. Sometimes you just need to shop around until you find the right fit – maybe a therapist that has sat in the same seat and questioned whether therapy can really help.


Please feel free to comment below & share your own experience of starting your therapeutic journey




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