Every month, I want to share a bit of the "blue print" that I use with individuals, couples, families and helping professionals.
As a helping professional, there will be a place along your vocational journey where you feel stuck.
Now, this may feel like a relief to read. It may also feel discouraging, unbelievable, or maybe a bit interesting. Regardless of how this sits with you today, I believe that we will find ourselves in stuck places: with out clients, our businesses, our colleagues or (perhaps the worst) ourselves.
Oftentimes, these “stuck” places revolve around our “self-of-therapist” struggles: the strengths, insecurities, gifts, capabilities, issues and baggage we bring to our work. We all have patterns in our lives that are both positive and negative, and these patterns typically show up in our relationships with others and ourselves. So don’t be surprised when these self-of-therapist patterns emerge in your work because, after all, you have relationships with your clients, colleagues and even your practice. If we don’t work through our personal struggles and learn how to use them as assets, we can easily find ourselves stuck and reacting in ways that may not be helpful.
Let me share a few personal examples that may feel familiar:
Example #1: clients (specifically parents) are frustrated that my work with their child is not “progressing” faster.
Self-of-therapist struggle: my unhealthy pattern with parent-type figures is to quickly feel disappointed in myself and back away in shame and fear. I can even feel myself withdrawing in session, even though I intellectually know that my work with the child is on track with our treatment goals. I become more distant within session and doubt myself, thus feeling stuck in my work.
If we don’t work through our personal struggles and learn how to use them as assets, we can easily find ourselves stuck and reacting in ways that may not be helpful.
Example #2: my practice is not attracting and retaining as many clients as I would like.
Self-of-therapist struggle: my unhealthy pattern with work is to blame myself as the problem. My mind runs to “I must be a bad therapist” or “If I were only like [famous, well-known helping professional] clients would stick with me.” I start hustling even more, trying to think of new ways to attract clients, even if these strategies don’t feel comfortable or natural for me. And then I start feeling stuck.
I could go on with many more examples that I’ve experienced or heard from others. My encouragement is to start thinking through some of your own examples without judgment or fear. We all have these struggles.
And there is a way out.
More to come,