Therapists Have Therapists?
Did you know that a therapist can, and usually does, have a therapist too?
It is a commonly held belief and assumption that therapists and other similar counseling professionals have a perfectly content and happy life. This usually stems from the fact that since therapists do other people’s therapy and counseling, they themselves don’t need professional help.
However, what most of us fail to realize while forming such assumptions is that therapists are human beings too. Often times, life gets the best of them and takes a toll on their mental health.
More importantly, many such practitioners seek professional help for main reasons like being able to process their own life events, to help maintain boundaries with clients, deal with their own shortcomings and to be able to confront their personal problems.
In the words of Leslie Prusnofsky, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, “human suffering is not unique to one group.”
On the apparent, it may also seem like therapists have it easier because since they carry out these practices themselves, they must be well-equipped with all the jargon and techniques so it might be easier for them to talk to another therapist.
However, that is not really the case. According to Prusnofsky, treating therapists does have its fair share of hindrances and obstacles. He further explains that by saying that when counseling therapist-patients, one might have to pull down a greater number of walls because therapists may be better than lay patients in their attempts to hide the real root of their problems. This happens because these therapists know exactly how therapy works, so using all the therapy jargon is their way of covering things up in order to avoid confronting the real issue at hand.
Ways Therapists Deal with Personal Problems
Take grief for example. Grief can stem from any major or minor life transition, be it losing a job, death of a loved one, dealing with an illness, ending a relationship, and so much more.
According to Melissa Fisher Goldman, a licensed clinical social worker, “we don’t get over grief; we get through it.”
While seeking help from another therapist is one way, there are numerous other ways through which therapists deal with personal problems and traumatic life events.
1. They Don’t Suppress Their Tears
Crying is one of the most common and is probably a default response for majority of people when facing a tough life situation or when battling with inner turmoil. Tears are our body’s natural stress-releasing mechanism and most therapists usually make an effort to not suppress their tears.
Danielle Forshee, a licensed social clinical worker in New Jersey is reported to have said that in times of grief, she tries not to hold back her tears because not only is crying a healthy way of letting things out but even science suggests that there are quite a few benefits associated with an occasional “good, cathartic sob.”
Some researchers have found out that when you cry during a stressful phase or time, you basically release emotional tears. These tears are different in a way that they contain those hormones that are normally associated with stress. So, in a way, when you cry, you are actually relieving your body off of all the stress.
If you look at it through a psychological lens, you will be able to see that crying induces an emotional release that helps not just therapists but most people to return to level ground emotionally.
2. They Do ‘All Sorts of Things‘
In the words of Elena Lister, a private practitioner, “therapists are also people” which, in a way, suggests that it is not uncharacteristic of therapists to resort to multiple activities and techniques when dealing with problems of their own.
She further adds that there is absolutely nothing strange or inexplicable about therapists seeking treatment for them because after all, this is life. Life will often put you through painful events and one has to deal with it, regardless of which way out you choose.
She also said that in order to keep herself in the right mental space and also stay upbeat not just for her patients but also for herself, she has to do “all sorts of things”.
And these things may include talking to friends, talking to yourself or with one’s partner, exercising, meditating, etc, the sky is the limit.
3. They Ask For Help
Seeking professional help is one thing, often times, therapist may reach out for help for the smallest and the simplest of things, be it picking up groceries.
For Jaime Gleicher, a psychotherapist based in New York, asking for help is one of her go-to practices when battling with a tough time.
Here, asking for help or the call for help simply refers to trying to come up with solutions or anything that can help us fix things. Gleicher further says that in a situation where we face a grave loss, as human beings, we know deep inside that no one can help bring that thing or that person back to us. So, we avoid asking for help because we know it can be invalidating.
However, even if someone cannot fix a situation for us, reaching out always helps, and that’s what Gleicher herself does and recommends others to also do.
4. They Engage In Self-Care
Sometimes, all you need to do is give yourself time and space to heal and find a way out of life’s problems, and that’s what therapists also often do.
Melissa Fisher Goldman ensures that she schedules self-care every week. Self-care can include anything and everything from practicing meditation, talking to loved ones, going out by yourself, or even taking a mini weekend getaway.
It is safe to conclude that just like we regular people experience grief, sadness, misery and all sorts of traumatizing emotions, therapists do too. So, we mustn’t belittle or trivialize problems faced by therapists just because we think they are better able to deal with them than us.