Do Therapists Go to Therapy?
Everyone could benefit from emotional care at some time in his or her life, right? I’m guessing even the Dalai Lama has bad days. Life is sometimes kind and sometimes cruel. We experience births and deaths, and joys and sorrows. Based on our genetic makeup and life experiences, some of us may struggle harder as life happens.
And, while dealing with the ebbs and flows of life, there are often negative messages filling our heads, many of them from our past. Even though we may not intellectually believe the messages, emotionally we FEEL them and may act out in ways, based on those feelings, which might not serve us well. Self talk, (see below), is powerful in how it wants to remind us that we aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, strong enough, etc.
If you are reading this and can’t relate, then you are surely the lucky one today! For those who can relate, you will be pleased to know that you are not alone. Sure, we put on happy faces, stay active, function fairly well at work and home, but inside our heads and hearts, there’s angst, and ugly self-deprecating talk.
Are therapists immune from this, “the human condition?” Do therapists resolve all of their issues during their training? Have therapists “arrived” making it possible for them to guide clients and help them disentangle from their issues?
I am putting myself out there and say, “no way!” (or Hell No!). If you find a therapist who has “arrived”, run the other way. At the same time, I’m not suggesting that therapists have to have experienced every issue you bring to the office (or Trail) to be effective…Does a cardiologist have to have a heart attack to understand your heart?
I’m just saying that life happens to all of us, including therapists. We are human and have baggage, too. (By the way, I’ll define baggage in another blog). Many therapists learn and practice self-regulating skills so their own baggage doesn’t interfere in their practice. Many seek treatment for their own depression or mental health disorder, as do their clients. Of course, therapists aren’t immune from life issues such as grief and having to mourn the loss of loved ones.
Last Christmas, I was dealing with my own baggage and needed time away from Trailtalk to work on myself. I attended a weeklong therapy retreat to shed light on my some past issues that were informing my present day relationships. Therapy isn’t easy for anyone and it wasn’t for me. I want you to know that. We have to trust whom we are working with, be honest with our therapist, and ourselves and be willing to turn the mirror toward ourselves. That can be pretty ugly for some of us. It’s like when your phone turns to Face Time unexpectedly. Yikes!!!
And it’s so much easier to blame someone else isn’t it?
Here’s my thought. We are all traveling in the same world, just on different journeys. One path is not better or above another’s path, but unique to each of us based on our varied genetic loading, our temperaments, and life experiences. The voices in our head, (our “self talk”), often tell us to “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and figure this out on your own!” Or, ” You are weak if you can’t deal with this yourself!” Well, I see it differently and that is the basis for Trailtalk…We ALL need emotional care now and then and shouldn’t be ashamed to seek that help. I’m not ashamed to seek that help and I hope you are not either.
It’s time to spread the word, lighten up, and shed light on the stigma of access to mental health care for all of us. Let’s normalize emotional care. When our bodies and minds work together, we are capable of living each moment of our lives in a healthier, better balanced manner.
For more discussion on this topic, see a great post in Psychology Today about therapists seeking therapy:
Life is daily. Don’t miss a moment. Happy trails.