Perspectives on being a therapist

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox
Updated January 4, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

There can be various factors that go into practice as a therapist. Although therapists support clients on various mental health-related topics, therapists also work to understand the human mind, the causes of mental illness, and the most beneficial solutions for their clients. They often test various clinical methods, collaborate with others, and continuously learn throughout their careers. 

Although therapists undergo intensive educational and career training before becoming licensed, what is learned in school and on paper can differ from real-life experiences. For example, each client is different, and challenges can arise in sessions that require a unique or integrative approach. Therapists are often flexible, open-minded, and motivated professionals. 

If you are curious about how to become a therapist, know that it involves dedication. Most therapists receive their license within eight years of beginning their coursework, so becoming a therapist is a time commitment. After gathering knowledge through education, the science of research-supported interventions and therapy models from countless academic papers and journals are delivered to clients. The therapist's delivery, personality, humanity, and authenticity can change how these interventions are offered. 

As each therapist is human, each professional has their own perspectives, opinions, and desired ways of working that can benefit clients in unique ways. Understanding what therapists think of their career from their perspective may help clients understand the process of offering support and can show those in school to become a therapist what the profession might look like once licensure is obtained. 

Getty/AnnaStills
What are some of the benefits of being a therapist?

The perspective of the therapist

As individuals working in the psychological field, therapists often have unique perspectives about being a therapist.

According to Careers In Psychology, many therapists believe in becoming aware of the job duties and expectations before going to school to be a therapist.

Being well-informed on what to expect from other providers may help you decide whether to become a therapist. If you're a client, understanding a therapist's perspective can help you feel empathy and understanding for their work. 

Success is teamwork 

Many therapists discuss how a client's desire to better themselves is a critical factor impacting therapeutic outcomes. The central focus and responsibility for therapeutic outcomes are often placed on the therapist, while success in therapy can also rest on the commitment and willingness of the client. Therapy is not a process done to someone but rather a team effort where the therapist acts as a mentor while the client does the work to support themselves. 

The body language of a therapist can matter 

How therapists hold themselves and non-verbally communicate with their clients may make a difference. When a mental health counselor or therapist appears open, friendly, and nonjudgmental, a client may feel safer opening up in sessions. 

Getty Images

Therapy might not be easy 

There are various misconceptions and myths about therapy, including that therapy will be easy or that the therapist will tell you what to do. Many may believe treatment involves sitting down and receiving instant advice to change your life. However, modifying human behavior can take time, and therapists may not offer an instant fix or any fix at all. At times, therapy is about managing emotions, symptoms, and goals in a way that is healthy for the client. 

In addition, counseling may involve talking about past experiences, distressing topics, and vulnerable emotions, which can initially feel uncomfortable. Therapy often requires self-evaluation and making changes, which can be challenging when behavioral habits have formed. The therapist can teach their clients how to tackle these various areas and offer resources that have been studied to benefit many clients in the past. 

For many, therapy can get easier with time and progress, but it can also be short-term. The modality of treatment you choose may heavily influence what techniques or activities you'll partake in during sessions. Understanding what to expect before you see a therapist can be beneficial. 

Therapy is not a "fix"

The idea that therapy serves as a "fix" is another common misconception. Therapy is not a "fix" but a process that allows clients to gain the tools, insight, and strategies they seek to address specific concerns and improve their mental health and quality of life. Many individuals experience setbacks, challenges, and obstacles. Therapy does not necessarily eliminate these obstacles but offers clients the tools, knowledge, and changes to ensure they feel confident and ready to handle them.  

Going to sessions can be the first step in finding effective techniques in therapy. However, the receptiveness, willingness, and openness a client showcases can also impact how effective they find the treatment. The specific improvements individuals experience can vary, but therapy is often about self-improvement and not ignoring, suppressing, eliminating, or fixing challenging symptoms, emotions, or events. 

Studies back up these perspectives by showing that suppressing emotions and trying to "make them go away" can cause physical health challenges. All feelings can be healthy, even when unpleasant, and therapists can help clients learn to ensure their thoughts and behaviors are also healthy when these emotions occur. 

On being a therapist - Jeffrey Kottler

One perspective about working in therapy comes from Jeffrey Kottler, the author of On Being a Therapist. Kottler's book pertains to how clients impact the lives of the therapists who work with them. On Being a Therapist also covers how working with clients can help therapists make positive changes in their personal lives, solve their problems, and improve their quality of work.

On Being a Therapist has earned many positive reviews. Satisfied readers have noted Kottler's conversational manner of communicating with his readers. Jeffrey describes how the words, choices, and situations clients choose to discuss during sessions can impact, enlighten, and inspire therapists. Kottler also earned significant praise for focusing on the humanity and empathy of therapists.

While there are many perspectives on being a therapist, Kottler's book can provide an in-depth insight for those curious about this line of work. Often, mainstream therapy coverage pertains to how therapists impact clients and what clients can expect when seeking therapy. However, understanding how therapists can benefit from clients can be a unique way to understand the profession. 

Rawpixel
What are some of the benefits of being a therapist?

Counseling options 

The therapy industry is broad, with over 400 specialties therapists can study. One therapist may work with families and relationships; others might help those experiencing mental illness like depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, or a personality disorder. No matter what type of therapist a client seeks, thousands are available throughout the US. However, if you face barriers to meeting with a specific type of provider, you might benefit from online therapy. 

Online therapists can offer support worldwide. In addition, this form of therapy can be done from home, and you can contact your therapist at any time to ask questions or make notes about sessions. One study on online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) found that internet-based intervention was as effective as in-person options in treating symptoms of social anxiety, depression, anxiety, and stress. 

If you would like to begin working with a therapist, a platform like BetterHelp can offer a world-class team of licensed therapists with specialties in various areas of psychology. 

Takeaway

Support is available for those who seek it regardless of who you are, where you come from, or what you may be experiencing. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the therapy profession continues to grow in demand, and many clients are already seeing a therapist. Seeking support can be brave, and you're not alone. Consider reaching out to a mental health professional for further guidance in the process of finding support. 

Explore mental health and healing in therapy

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started