Being a therapist is complex. Working as a therapist is about much more than simply sitting down and listening to other people's issues. A therapist has to truly understand the human mind, the causes behind various issues and the solutions which are most beneficial for different problems which people face.
Despite the many things which therapists must learn and familiarize themselves with through their bachelor’s degree and master’s degree program studies and the clinical hours needed to meet the licensure requirements of their state’s licensing board, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for any patient who may seek out therapy. What works for one person may be wrong for someone else, and the therapist has to adjust to them in the therapy session.
Therapy is both science and art and it takes a lot to become a therapist - between the educational requirements from the bachelor's and master’s degrees and getting credentials, the average therapist takes at least 8 years to receive their license.
After gathering this knowledge, the science of research-supported interventions and therapy models from countless academic papers and journals are delivered through a therapist, who is a person. The therapist's delivery, personality, humanity, and authenticity bring "art" into therapy.
Some who may not be familiar with therapy and what goes into becoming a therapist might think that therapy is a relatively simple job that anyone with a bachelor’s in psychology degree can get. Others are distrustful of mental health counselors and therapists. With so many conflicting attitudes and opinions about therapists and therapy, the therapist's perspective can get lost in the noise.
The Perspective of the Therapist
As individuals who work in therapy, whether it’s a private practice or elsewhere, it's safe to say that therapists have some expert outlooks on being a therapist. According to Careers In Psychology, many therapists believe that it's important to be aware of certain things before pursuing therapy as a career path. Having the proper knowledge can impact not only the career of the therapist and how well they work with patients but also the other areas of therapists' lives.
Many therapists have stated that the patients' desire to better themselves is a critical factor that will impact therapeutic outcomes in each therapy session. This is something that is left out of discussions about therapy. Many times the central focus and responsibility for therapeutic outcomes are placed on the therapist, while success in therapy also rests on the commitment of the client.
While there is much discussion about the importance of the client's body language in sessions, the body language of the therapist is also very impactful as well. When a mental health counselor or therapist appears open, friendly, and nonjudgmental, this can make it easier for patients who may have trouble with opening up or talking about challenging issues.
The Perspective of the Patient
While the perspective of the patient is one which is frequently covered by a variety of sources and outlets, it's still important to discuss here. Many patients who have worked with therapists have their outlooks on how therapists work, what it's like being a therapist, and what they have learned from working with therapists or social workers.
Many patients who have worked with mental health professionals note that therapy is not always an easy process, nor does it serve as a "fix." This doesn't mean that therapy isn't effective or helpful. It indicates that therapy requires work if someone is serious about truly improving the quality of their lives. As previously stated, work from both the therapist and the patient is required for therapy to yield the desired results of improvement. For example, marriage and family therapists will need all participants involved to work together to start getting on the same page. A family therapist can be a mediator, but everyone needs to make an effort to cooperate.
Not Always Easy
Amongst certain circles, there is a misconception regarding therapy. Many people have been led to believe that therapy is all about sitting down on comfortable couches and pouring out your life story to a therapist who can, in turn, provide the solution with some clinical terms which magically changes the life of the patient. While the media has largely contributed to the painting of this image, it is a misconception and it’s certainly not how any credible mental health treatment goes, especially for modifying human behavior.
In real life, therapy, especially clinical mental health counseling, involves talking about issues and past experiences which may not always be easy or comfortable to revisit. Therapy furthermore requires self-evaluation and making some lifestyle changes which may not always be easy to do, especially for those with a behavioral disorder. In many cases, people get accustomed to habits which are not conducive to their productivity or growth as an individual.
Therapy does get easier with time and progress, but the beginning parts are usually the most challenging. This is something which both patients and therapists should be aware of. Therapy is very much worth it but understanding what to expect before starting always makes a positive difference.
Therapy Is Not A "Fix"
The idea that therapy serves as a "fix" is another common misconception that exists regarding the practice. Therapy is not a "fix," but rather a process which allows patients to gain the tools, insight, and strategies needed to overcome certain issues and improve their mental health and the quality of their lives.
In life there will always be setbacks, challenges, and obstacles. With the right tools, knowledge, and changes, patients can better themselves and ensure that they are ready for whatever life throws at them.
It is not only going to therapy that makes the change, but also the receptiveness and changes which come about as a result of therapy. The specific changes and improvements which patients experience will certainly vary, but at the end of the day, therapy is about self-improvement, not seeking a quick and easy "fix" to the challenges and difficulties of life. Those who look for a therapist for the latter will most likely feel disappointed and not see the results they can truly see.
On Being A Therapist by Jeffrey Kottler
One of the most interesting perspectives about working in the field of therapy comes from Jeffrey Kottler, the author of On Being a Therapist. Kottler's book largely pertains to how patients impact the lives of the therapists who work with them. On Being a Therapist also covers how working with patients can help therapists in their own lives; namely, making positive changes, solving their issues and improving their quality of work in therapy.
On Being a Therapist has earned many great reviews, particularly on Amazon. Satisfied readers have noted Kottler's conversational manner of communicating with his readers, coupled with how patients' words, choices, and situations which they discuss during sessions can impact, enlighten, and even 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 some in-depth insight for those who are truly curious about this line of work. Often mainstream coverage of therapy pertains to how therapists impact patients and what patients should expect when trying to seek therapy.
Therapy is a very broad field. There are many different types of therapists with many specialties - one therapist may work with families and relationships, others will help people with mental health issues and challenges like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and the list goes on for all of the other possibilities available in counseling and therapy.
Whether they’re interested in being a marriage and family therapist and helping to improve relationships between people via family therapy and couples counseling or a behavioral therapist or school psychologist who works with complex mental health conditions in young individuals, a person who is truly curious about being a therapist will certainly benefit from hearing out both therapists and patients. This can serve as a very enlightening and informational experience on what it takes to become a therapist. No two patients or therapists are exactly alike, and each person can add to the conversation.
If you would like to begin working with a good therapist here at BetterHelp, we have a world-class team of licensed therapists who would be delighted to work with you and assist you. We understand that life can throw all types of challenges at us and nobody deserves to feel as though they are alone. Here, you can find your own therapist that will make helping clients and your well being their priority.
Regardless of who you are, where you come from, or what you may be dealing with, help will always be available to those who ask for it, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all therapy services will continue to grow because of the demand for it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking out help or guidance; this is one of the bravest and strongest things that you can do. No matter how strong or independent someone may be, everyone needs help sometimes, and that’s where a therapist comes in.
You can get started with BetterHelp and get connected to a therapist at any time and from anywhere simply by clicking here.