Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing my therapist. Yes, you heard me right: I am a therapist with a therapist. Now, I hope you’re not expecting a rundown of the session; I do have some boundaries.
I’m first to admit that at times I haven’t coped very well because of my health challenges. I see a very patient, caring, and supportive woman who has seen me through my medical ups and downs. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her.
J. knows it helps me to see my therapist and, if I am struggling (okay, if I’m being unusually cranky), she gently asks me when my next appointment is. It’s sometimes harder for me than for J. to notice I’m not coping well, so invariably I make the call.
I see this lovely woman less often than I used to. I worry about boring her with the same stories, the mundane details, and the unrelenting ups and downs that are the nature of any chronic illness. My own clients have expressed similar worries over the years. Despite these concerns, my therapist makes me feel that she enjoys seeing me and is kind enough to allow me to rebook on an as-needed basis.
One of the hardest things about therapy is that our therapists can’t resolve for us the problems we bring them; we still have to muddle through ourselves. “What’s the point in talking about my divorce/dad’s death/rotten kids/health problem if my therapist can’t fix it?”, you might wonder. In my case, maybe my therapist can’t cure my leukemia, but she can help me to live with my illness with more acceptance and less fear, and that she most certainly has.
I’ve questioned whether, as a psychologist, I should be able to deal with these issues on my own. I know many people, psychologists included, who would never consider seeking help for themselves. I don’t think any of us should be ashamed of needing support through tough times. And honestly, how could I do what I do if I didn’t believe in the value of counselling?
Psychologists are human, I am first to admit, and we have challenges that sometimes we just can’t seem to overcome on our own. If you think I’m trying to justify my own need for help, you’re probably right, and you’re welcome to tell me so. But deep down I truly believe I’m allowed to be as vulnerable as you. I too get stuck sometimes and need help getting unstuck. Also, I want to ensure I’m dealing with my own issues effectively so they don’t interfere with my work with my clients. I’ve also learned a lot from my experiences in counselling about how to approach my own clients. I wonder whether being a client has helped me to be a better therapist.
I’ve booked another session in just over a month. Do let me know if you think I should move that appointment up. I imagine you’ll be able to tell.