Being a therapist is a cool job! No really, it is. I love it! Never until I was in grad school to get my doctorate in marriage and family therapy did I feel "these are my people" and I belong, and doing the work, I really get a charge out of it. Of course, people I meet are curious about my job as a therapist. Understandably, there are lots of misconceptions and questions. The biggest misconception is I'm walking around analyzing and diagnosing folks; I'm not. My clients want me to know about their lives; I'm not a voyeur or clairvoyant. In sessions, clients are helping me know what I need to know to help them reach their goals. And it's work to analyze. Just like anyone, when I'm not working...I'm not working.
One of the most difficult times to be a therapist is when people don't commit to the work
Another common comment, "It must be hard to be a therapist...to hear all of that." The answer is, yes and no, but probably not for the reasons you'd suspect. The best part of being a therapist is the pure thrill of doing the work with a motivated client, and the biggest challenge is just the opposite. One of the most difficult times to be a therapist is when people don't commit to the work, or when it gets uncomfortable they drop out.
More often than not, my clients are courageous and they make changes in their lives. It's not easy; they have to look in the mirror and face what's not working in their lives or relationships, and when they decide to make shifts, small or large, they experience growth, change, and peace. Oh man, that is so rewarding! I wish I could express how rewarding it is to witness this, and it happens frequently. But what is frustrating as a therapist is when people do the opposite. Our natural tendency is to keep doing what we've always done or pressure our partner to change. This often isn't the answer, however. You've heard the saying, "When you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." Some of the principles of therapy and psychology really are this fundamental. And while it bums me out to watch people continue as they have, I can't change anyone; I can't do the work for anyone. So listening to difficult insights and information or holding space during challenging sessions is not what is hard as a therapist--honestly, that is my privilege. I have hope; I've seen people change their lives. It's inspiring, powerful, and beautiful. My clients are doing the hard work and I'm walking along in a supporting role. They are brave and fierce. Sometimes the walk is slow, and that's just fine, and sometimes we trot along. It beats stuck any day. But it is not magic and no therapist has all the answers. If I had the answers, I often say, I'd just charge more, and rotate everyone through doling out the answers gladly...Introspection and personal growth is not easy, but it is possible to make changes, and therapy works, if you do!
About the author: Melissa Hudson, PhD(c) is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Plano, Texas specializing in couples counseling, anxiety disorders, and depression. She also works with adults and families on a variety of concerns. Have questions? Reach out! firstname.lastname@example.org | 214-235-8175 | www.counselingsolutionstexas.com