Antoni Cygan – Faces. Gandalf’s Gallery Flickr.
1. Therapists and Counsellors Will Need Ongoing Personal Support During Training, Working With Patients and At Various Times In Life.
“Self-exploration is a lifelong process, and I recommend that therapy be as deep and prolonged as possible—and that the therapist enter therapy at many different stages of life.”
Irvin D. Yalom
If we are to become adaptable and knowledgeable psychotherapists, it is good, as Yalom says, to try ‘a diversity of approaches.’
This will prevent us from becoming over-influenced by one set of ideas, introduce us to new ways of thinking and keep our practice flexible.
In my 33 year career as a psychotherapist and beyond, I have had many years of psychoanalytical psychotherapy, in three stints, with 2 female and 1 male therapist, 2 shorter experiences of CBT with 2 different therapists, psychoanalytical group therapy, several years of art therapy, both individually and in a group, transactional analysis group therapy, and person centred therapy.
I have also attended numerous person-centred residential and non-residential community encounter groups.
All these experiences contributed to my having a repertoire of approaches, so that I felt more able to adapt to the diverse needs of patients.
A uniform ‘one size fits all’ attitude is not applicable to effective psychotherapy.
At various difficult points in my life I have also found it important to embark upon different kinds of psychotherapy to learn to manage the tricky issues that inevitably arise in life and work.
Discovering and resolving newly found ‘blocks’ inside myself along the way, as I ventured deeper into the therapy experience with others, was vital in trying to be as open as I could to others’ material.
“A person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.”
Carl R. Rogers
Now that I am in my 70’s, I find that I can call on some of these therapy experiences to enrich my current life, to feed my writing and to help me through issues that arise.
I would not rule out having further therapy in the future if it were ever necessary.
These experiences have given me a wide knowledge and understanding of a variety of approaches and have helped me immeasurably as a person and as a therapist.
2. Personal Development/Therapy Groups Are Also Important for Any Therapist’s Training and Experience.
Men’s Group Therapy Session. Scene from the Motion Picure eMANcipation.Philipp Müller-Dorn. Wikimedia Commons.
The therapy group experience offers therapists and trainees a unique opportunity to learn about how they relate to and are received by others.
Being in such a group can be a profound learning experience for the participants, one that differs from individual therapy.
To my mind, therapists need both kinds of therapy experience.
Engaging in a group will usually mean that we will discover that there are others who might have similar problems; the sharing of personal information and feelings can be a deeply therapeutic experience.
We will often find that we are not alone with our problems, as we hear others sharing similar issues.
We can gain support, challenge and affirmation from other group members, also hearing different viewpoints and perspectives on our own issues.
As therapists, having group therapy will add to our repertoire of therapy experiences, increase our understanding and education, and expand our self-knowledge and awareness of others.
3.You Can Understand The Patient’s Experience In Therapy Better If You Have Been In Therapy Yourself.
Sampsa Sarparanta – Dream Catcher 
“A personal therapy experience permits the student therapist to experience many aspects of the therapeutic process from the patient’s seat: the tendency to idealize the therapist, the yearning for dependency, the gratitude toward a caring and attentive listener, the power granted to the therapist.”
Actually being in therapy is a unique experience. It is impossible to imagine or understand what this entails from the outside, from case studies, or from books.
Allowing oneself to feel as the patient feels in the therapy situation can only happen through a personal therapy.
It is patronising, and potentially harmful to our patients, to think we can grasp the nature of being in the patient’s chair only on an intellectual level.
As therapists, we really do need to understand how this therapy journey into the self feels, deep in our souls.
Otherwise we will position ourselves psychologically above the other, feeling that we do not need what they are receiving.
We will be seeing ourselves as ‘one-up,’ and the patient as ‘one-down,’ rather than as another struggling human being in a difficult world.
Nuria Armengol – Journal de Voyage 7  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
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