When I’m out and about and someone asks what I do for a living, I explain that I’m a Marriage and Family Therapist and share a bit about working with couples and new parents. I typically get one of two questions right off the bat. First, “are you psychoanalyzing me right now?” and second “do you have a perfect marriage? You must not have any problems.”
So are my life and marriage perfect because I’m a therapist? HELL-to-the-NO. And I wouldn’t want them to be. A perfect life would be very boring.
Therapists face the same difficulties and challenges in life as everyone else. In fact, our personal journeys and experiences often influence the work that we do. The therapeutic relationship is a unique one, and your therapist may not share many details of their personal life with you. Some people have trouble with this idea. After all, you’re sharing the deepest and most intimate parts of your life with your therapist and you know basically nothing about them. Trust me, your therapist has problems in their life too, but the focus of the session is to work on you and your growth.
I think one reason that therapist’s seem to have it all together is that they see the value in investing in their mental health, significant relationships, and personal growth. Therapists understand the importance of taking care of yourself even when things seem to be going well. Being happy and having fulfilling relationships is a process and not something that occurs overnight. Many mental health professionals make efforts to manage their stress, keep caseloads workable, participate in their own therapy, and engage in other coping skills to resolve problems and maintain relationships.
What this also means is that your therapist really does understand your pain. Most new clients, or people that have not gone to therapy, worry that the therapist will judge them or not understand what they are really going through. I’ve also heard people say that they are scared to go to therapy because they are a mess and the therapist will think little of them. This is not true. My non-perfect life is what helps me develop meaningful relationships and understandings with people. As a therapist, I want to help people the best way I can, so I make great efforts to connect and completely understand my clients’ pain and problems. I do not judge the things my clients tell me about themselves; I accept people the way they are and help them make steps towards their goals. All people, no matter what they’re going through or how much of a “mess” they are, deserve to feel worthy and happy with themselves and their relationships.
I encourage you to throw your assumptions about your therapist’s (or potential therapist’s) life out the window. Just because you don’t know their problems doesn’t mean they don’t have them. Therapists are human and they have pain like everyone else. They intentionally work on their pain and dedicate themselves to healing others. Put your anxieties, fears, and worries away and be open to making changes, albeit the process may not unfold perfectly.
If you are considering seeing a therapist but don’t know what to expect, call me for a free phone consultation (832) 827-3288. I can explain more about the way I work and how I can help you. I can tell you now that I am far from perfect and I hope that’s ok with you.