Do you have to have been a client in therapy in order to know that you want to go to school to become a therapist? I was talking about career goals with a friend, and she said she thought it was "weird" that I would want to be a therapist even though I have never been in therapy myself. Is this something grad schools and professors would frown upon? Do they expect people to have been through therapy before they choose this career path?
Yeah, it’s frowned upon to be a therapist and never been in therapy. You can wait til you are in graduate school but many programs’ applications want you to be able to speak to your experiences in therapy. It’s fine to have the desire and not have had therapy but if you really want to pursue it - it’s important to go for at least a bit. You need a lot of good self-knowledge to be a good therapist. Counter-transference and your own shit is going to come up for you, even if you think it won’t (I saw this in grad school for sure with the one person without any therapist experience). If you get all the way through graduate school and still haven’t ever been in therapy, you will get some side eye from other therapists for sure.
If you haven’t ever been if therapy, you don’t know what’s it’s like to be on the other side: to know how much power and influence a therapist can wield; how hard it is to trust this random stranger with a degree to whom you pay money; what it feels like when questions are asked too hard or too quickly or just right; what it feels like when you are in a good grove and it’s shitty and hard and wonderful all the time; or what it’s like to feel like you might be dependant on a therapist and it scaring the fuck out of you; what good attunement in therapy feels like; what bad attunement in therapy feels like; what makes you feel safe in therapy and why that is; what happens when you are really fucking pissed at your therapist and how a good therapist handles it, or what a bad therapist does to not handle it; what a bad fit feels like with a good therapist; what a shit therapist feels like; what feels like support and what feels like dismissal, how it is to tolerate when someone else is dragging you through your own emotions.
All that stuff is in addition to the self-knowledge you need to be good at this - what pisses you off and what to do about it - and not even the big things! I fucking hate spit and didn’t know it until I started but I knew how to tolerate other stuff so I was able to apply that to a spitting situation. What shit you are carrying from your own trauma(s) or Trauma(s). What stuff you are carrying from your family of origin. Having a defined sense of self so that you don’t get wrapped up in your clients. Because some clients won’t get better and some don’t need your help; some will but that’s not up to us. What triggers you? A client who liked very much casually referred to me as a dyke in a joking way when the client was not any flavor of lbgtq and I had an enormous reaction to it but I knew why, I could process that if I expressed this to the client it would be harmful, was able to set a boundary around language in session and then cry in my car with on the phone with another queer therapist. It wasn’t about the client at all. It was my shit. But because of therapy - I knew it. I safely set a good, non-shaming boundary and we moved on to some amazing work. But without doing my own work - that wouldn’t have been the outcome. Or it would have taken a lot of mess to get there. You need choice around your actions in the room and unless you really look at it and have someone from the outside look at with it - those issues can be hard to see. Looking at why you want to do this. Looking at what this means to you. Where are your boundaries? What’s flexible and what’s not? Can you tolerate others being dependant on you. Can you tolerate people getting mad or being attracted to you? What happens if you race/disability/gender/religion/fatness come into the room in a mean or an aggressive way? Because it might. It probably will. What your culture, racial, class-based, gender based, religious and familial biases are. It’s frustrating to see clinicians who don’t do their own work to expect marginalized populations to do their work for them or to make them “feel okay” about issues around race, class, disability, gender or sexuality. And this happens a lot. You will have feelings about all these things and dealing with them in the room with client can be extremely harmful.
Please don’t let this discourage you from pursuing this career. For all I know you are in high school and have a lot of time. But seriously. If you and all the other therapists/therapists to be take nothing else from this blog - Do your own before you start seeing clients. Go therapy. Even if it’s just for a little while - I know it can be expensive and there are barriers to entry but include it in the price of admission to this profession.
SASHA IS SUCH AN AMAZING ARTIST AND PERFORMER HER LIPSYNCS ARE ALWAYS ON POINT AND SHE ALWAYS DE👏LI👏VERS👏 BEING WITH THE PROPS, MESSAGE, OUTFITS OR CREATIVE IDEAS, I HAVE NEVER SEEN HER DO A BAD ACT AND SHE’S ALWAYS DOING THAT EXTRA STUFF THAT YOU WOULDN’T THINK IT WOULD WORK BUT IT DOES AND SHE ALWAYS MAKES YOU FEEL ALL OF THE EMOTIONS SHE TRIES TO DELIVER AND THAT’S WHY I HAVE NOTHING BUT RESPECT AND PURE ADMIRATION FOR HER