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Finding a Therapist for a Therapist

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From a therapist in the U.S.: I can relate to my clients when they sometimes feel the anxiety and unsure feeling when trying to find the right person to seek therapy and aid for important life challenges. And there are times in life when even emotional counselors and therapists need and want to seek help from a professional. As a therapist it can be difficult (for many reasons) to seek help themselves. What steps do you suggest to someone in that situation? Are there links and resources specifically to help people in our particular profession seek professional help when facing emotional or familial difficulties? What types of therapist/credentials/education level should they look for? Would it be wise to disclose the similar career field in therapy? What types of questions would be significant enough to ask the therapist before making an appointment when faced with this issue? There is very little information about this in our field that I am aware and would love to get some insight if possible. Thank you for your time.

Finding a Therapist for a Therapist

Answered by on -

A.

I think it’s not only wise but important for therapists to intermittently get their own therapy. It’s important to experience what it’s like to be in treatment. It’s even more important to deal with our own issues as best we can. It’s a matter of integrity. How can we ask people to spend their time and money for our help, if we aren’t willing to do the same?

I hope you have a positive relationship with a supervisor. Every working therapist should have one. Two heads are always better than one.There are few, if any, of us who are so smart and so self-aware that we can think of every possible way to understand and help a person in pain. A good supervisor also helps us recognize when a client’s issues trigger our own and helps us avoid our own biases. Your supervisor should be able to recommend a therapist’s therapist for you. If you don’t have a supervisor, I hope you’ll get one.

In the meantime, ask your colleagues in your area for suggestions. There is no shame in disclosing that you need some help for yourself. Most helpers do at times.

I do suggest you look for someone who is licensed, older, and more experienced. Yes, I know there are peers who are smart and compassionate. But sometimes it’s helpful to talk with someone who has “been there and done that” more than we have.

Absolutely disclose your profession. Your skills can be useful in collaborating with your therapist to deal with whatever you are dealing with. There are advantages to talking with someone who has similar training as you have a shared vocabulary. But there are also advantages in experiencing another approach to get a fresh perspective. That’s up to you.

Really, we therapists are no different from anyone else. We sometimes struggle with emotional pain, life’s challenges and burn out. Ask the same questions of a therapist that you would hope someone would ask you when they make the first call. Provide an outline of the issues. Ask the therapist about their approach and experience and fees. It is not out of line to ask if he or she has any concerns about dealing with a colleague as a patient.

Give yourself permission to interview several therapists before making a choice. As you know, the best indicator that therapy will be successful is the “fit” between the therapist and client. If you feel comfortable about talking to and trusting the therapist during the first meeting, chances are you will work well together. If not, not.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Finding a Therapist for a Therapist

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Finding a Therapist for a Therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 15, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/12/02/finding-a-therapist-for-a-therapist/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.