Therapists Spill: How I Faced My Fears
We assume that therapists have everything figured out. We assume they don’t really struggle—or at least not like we do. Which means they don’t have fears—or they’ve conquered them a long time ago. Which means they rarely worry or get self-conscious. They rarely agonize about really small things. After all, they’re experts in psychological health, right?
But while therapists do have a deep understanding of fear and a range of effective tools to deal with it, they still experience it. Because fear is human. Because everyone experiences fear. Everyone worries. Everyone struggles. We don’t vanquish or eliminate fear—which comes in all shapes, sizes and stripes. Below, five therapists reveal how they faced their fears—big and small.
For therapist Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, starting her podcast “Therapy Chat” was terrifying. “[I] was putting myself out there into the world. [I felt] as if I am asking the world ‘do you like me?’ I’m afraid the answer will be ‘no.’”
At first, she got through it by telling herself that no one would be listening. It took her some time to acknowledge that she actually did want people to hear the podcast. “I felt I had something to say. It was time to stop hiding. I had to reconcile the fact that people might not like it, and I was able to reason that I don’t like everything other people do either. But that doesn’t mean their work lacks value. It was challenging to recognize that it is OK for me to show up in the world, even though it means opening myself to judgment and criticism.”
Reagan’s reward for doing the podcast far outweighs the discomfort: She’s able to help way more people than she can in her private practice, one on one.
Marriage and family therapist Ashley Thorn also had similar fears while trying a seemingly small act: wake boarding on a family vacation. “I’ve always been known in my family for being a ‘chicken,’ especially when it comes to sports type things. And honestly, it wasn’t so much the fear of wake boarding—it was the fear of failing at it or embarrassing myself and getting made fun of.”
What helped was telling herself that whatever happened, she’d feel proud for trying. She also did some research on wake boarding. Then she took a deep breath, and went for it.
“I didn’t turn out to be a professional wake boarder, but I wasn’t bad at it either. And, it felt really good to do something that was unexpected of me, and something I had always told myself I couldn’t do because I was afraid of it. That little experience has since given me the confidence to push myself more, try other new things, and gain new wonderful, meaningful experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise have.”