Meeting With My First Therapy ClientI just finished a 40-day winter break from graduate school. After a quick but intense first semester, I was a bit crispy around the edges and welcomed the vacation. But now it …

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Meeting With My First Therapy Client

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  1. I wish you all the best on your journey.

  2. As a new therapist myself, I have just one tidbit of advice that you’ve probably heard: when all else fails, build the relationship and trust. Learn and grow from the supervisor’s feedback and be forgiving of yourself. Good luck!!

  3. Dr. Mary Pipher has a delightful book entitled, “Letters to a Young Therapist.” It is a wonderful book which she writes as a supervisor to a student. Each word she writes is both a gem and an emotional healing balm. The two pieces of advice she writes which jump out at me the most are that people are COMPLEX, more complex than any theory or diagnostic label. The second piece of advice which really jumped out at me is that when our clients are really down the most beneficial thing we can do for them is to help them trudge through it.

    I have a blog post containing YouTube video about Dr. Pipher on my blog: http://www.effectivefamilycommunication.com. All the best to you and welcome to the healing profession.

  4. Thanks for your insightful article! I’m a master’s counseling student and will be starting practicum in the fall. I’m nervous and hoping that I remember the vast quantities of information that they have been trying to get us to learn so I can actually help someone. It’s nice to know that others are nervous too!

  5. Hi Katie,

    I’m a psychology graduate student at Georgia Southern University and will soon embarking on the same journey as you. My classmates and I often talk about how soon we will have our first clients (Fall of next year) and hope we will be prepared when the time comes. I think you’re very wise to Google yourself and adjust your Facebook permissions. I worry that in our tech savvy world, too many new therapists will not see it as an issue even though I believe it can greatly damage rapport and the client’s therapeutic experience. Not that we’re not human, but knowing too much about us as therapists will make it too hard for the client to have an experience in which we are more of a mirror for their self-reflection than too much of a flesh-and-blood person on which they can feel judged and insecure.

    I’ll definitely be tuning in to hear more about your experiences. Good luck! I’m sure you’ll do great. :-)

  6. I have lived with major depression for over 10 years now and believe that one reason I have been given this “gift” is to help educate people about the devasting effects of this disease. To that end I have volunteered to work with several students being supervised by my therapist and found the experience rewarding and helpful – for both of us. So try and enjoy your work and know that your help will be greatly appreciated. I wish you great success in your journey.

  7. I enjoyed reading your article and certainly related to your concerns and anxiety. I am a fairly new clinician (2 years) as well and wanted to share two bits of advice I received that helped me tremendously. 1) We are not going to “cure” anyone, the goal is to help the client to get to a higher level of efficacy and 2) (regarding anxiety of meeting new clients) Just be there, listen to their story that perhaps, no one has been interested enough to listen to before.
    And of course, above all, do no harm.

  8. The best advice I have gotten so far when expressing anxiety over meeting a new client is, “Just get them to come back!”

  9. I wish you luck.

  10. Thanks, everyone, for the feedback and support! I saw my first client this afternoon, and it was a success! I look forward to sharing more experiences with you as the semester progresses.

  11. Be yourself. Use your trining in mendfulness and yoga…calm, relax, peaceful…Client/patient can feel if we are nervous.

  12. Keep us posted!

  13. Hi, Kate. The book that helps me the most is The Gift of Therapy by Yalom. It is full of short essays he wrote about therapy and the therapeutic process. Although I have been in practice for seven years now, I read this one all the time to keep myself on the right path.

  14. I just completed my MSW in May; my 2nd internship was in a counseling setting. After getting a handle on my anxiety related to my ability I was able to relax a little and when I stopped being so self conscious I was able to really listen to the people who came to see me. I think that the thing that struck me the most was how powerful what we were doing in that room really was. People I never met were telling me things they never told anyone. Your responsibility to them is tremendous. It is really a pretty humbling experience in my opinion. Good luck.

  15. Dear Kate, as one who has been the “patient” in literally hundreds of therapy sessions over the past 12 years I wish you well on your new journey. As I read your post I detected a caring human heart underneath all of your learning. If I were a betting person I would place my money on your being very successful in your career.

    All the best.

  16. My therapist emailed me constantly, followed me around town and even came into where I work. He was a freak.

  17. Dear Kate, Please consider that you do not need to know anything to help your clients. I have been helped the most effectively by simply having a quiet and compassionate witness to my own process. And have found the answers are within my process and my own essential self. Trust that this is true, even when it is not yet obvious to either person. The truth inside will come forward as if a shy animal is attempting to gain some light and warmth from a campfire, yet very cautiously watching from a distance. The therapist wishes to tap into their innate wisdom and the client who ultimately desires the same. Despite different roles, leaving plenty of room to be surprised by this flowering of each soul shyly coming forth. Resist being the one who ‘knows’. Be rather the one who doesn’t know the other, but skillfully with curiosity and courage. Requiring both to let go of the theories, and easy assumptions while simply noticing what IS, while remaining fully present. The client will naturally do their own work, which can never be done for them with true success anyway. Good Luck and Best Wishes, A

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