DO therapists go to their own therapy?
Yep, at least, here at Phoenix Counseling Collective we do. In fact, many therapists do, and we aren't the only ones who think it's a good idea. We want you to know that there's no stigma for us about going to counseling or therapy. We do it ourselves because we see how it can benefit everyone! Here, we share with you some of the lessons we've learned in our own therapy. We've done individual therapy, couples therapy, and even family therapy. We have gained valuable lessons from it and wanted to share our experience with you.
These ideas might sound familiar to you, or perhaps in your own therapy you've worked on something different- that's perfectly okay! Each experience with a therapist is different for every person.
18 Lessons from a therapist’s own therapy:
Lesson #1- The way I was raised and the environment I grew up in still impacts the way that I live my life today. I still have residual stuff that comes up. Therapy helps me recognize it when it shows up. It helps me accept it. Then it helps me choose how I want it to influence me. These things are going to influence me, it's not a question of "If" but "How." I get to work on the how part in therapy.
Lesson #2- I've grasped some understanding about my own parts. We do parts work at the Collective, and I've learned that I put them on the shelf sometimes, so I've been getting to know them and their needs as well.
Lesson #3- We all can use a safe space with no judgment. In my own therapy, I get a safe space to allow all the parts of me to process whatever is there. There's no judgment in therapy for me, which has been a lesson I needed to learn for myself. My therapist doesn't judge me or the parts of me, and it's helped me to accept all the parts of me as well.
Lesson #4- Things aren’t as black and white as I thought. There isn't always a clear right or wrong decision. Instead, I've learned that every decision has utility. If I choose and don’t like the outcome, it is feedback to learn from for next time
Lesson #5- Much of my personality is grown out of my childhood, family cycles, and act as coping mechanisms for self-preservation. It's okay to give myself some credit where credit is due. My actions make sense in context.
I’m not broken.
Lesson #6- My wants and needs aren’t “too much.” They are valid. Knowing this gives me permission to look at how to get these needs met by myself and others.
Lesson #7- I've gotten insight into the cycles of my relationships. I've learned to recognize my own patterns, and the patterns I create with the people in my life. Learning about these gives me the choice to change them.
Lesson #8- I've practiced more coping skills. No single graduate program can teach you every skill or exercise. It's great to learn mindfulness, coping skills, how to slow down, say no, and improve communication from another clinician's perspective.
Lesson #9 - I've learned better how my clients feel. My own counseling has given me more compassion and empathy for how my clients might experience sessions. I have to deal with my own anxiety and nervousness as I wait to enter into the counseling room. This gives me understanding on how my clients might experience their own anxiety as they sit in the counseling office.
Lesson #10- I have determined to trust the therapeutic process. Sometimes I don’t know what exactly I want to talk about and that is okay. Sometimes I have a lot to talk about, but other times I just need a space to process less heavy stuff that is going on in my life. Not every session is meant to be "life transforming."
Lesson #11- I realized that I need to feel a connection with my therapist. I have been in counseling where I didn’t feel like my therapist showed up on time, kept their word, and understood my unique struggle (most of the session was me showing up for them.) It is refreshing then to find another therapist who is competent and confident in their ability to help me and one that I can feel safe and connected with.
Lesson #12- Change takes time...a long time. And usually that change looks different than anticipated.
Lesson #13- Growth, freedom, and contentment are possible.
Lesson #14- My mom always said "slow down and enjoy the journey." Her words never seemed to sink in, but during two different bouts of therapy (with different therapists) I came to better understand my desires & longings that drove me to keep seeking more and more. It was taking a look inside, tuning in to my self, my body, my stories, my own traumas that I was able to bring my unconscious motivations to the conscious where I could make more mindful choices of how to move about in my life.
Ultimately, I learned the process of slowing down and enjoying the journey.
Lesson #15- "Small" traumas have lasting effects. I have had a privileged, good, nice, happy upbringing, AND loneliness, harm, and trauma were still present. The idea of both/and helped with my ability to hold the ambivalence of the good and heartache of my childhood and adolescents.
Lesson #16- Living and being present in our bodies is one of the most difficult and fulfilling ways to be.
Lesson #17- I’m primarily a relational being. Without deep relationships, life loses a lot of meaning and worth.
Lesson #18- Being “good enough” beats trying to run the rat race of being perfect.
If you have interest in experiencing your own therapy and learning the lessons that are out there for you, please feel free to reach out to us. We'd love to walk alongside you in this journey.
-The Phoenix Counseling Collective Team
Caleb, Elisa, Andy, Kim, & Molly