Therapist – Move Out of the Way
This article is written for new therapists entering the field. In supervising interns on how to conduct therapy, I find that my first challenge is getting students out of the habit of following an agenda instead of simply being with the client, filled with hope. It can be viewed as helping them toss their education to the side and leading with their heart. Oh, they will know the correct action to take if they simply go from the gut.
It is important for therapists to understand that clients are actually the client. They came in for a reason, are looking for relief, and ultimately want to not only be heard but part of the solution. We cannot heal them, that is their job, but it is important for us to really listen to them and then ask what they believe will actually fix them. This concept may be new or confusing, but if we lead with our intervention, it could turn them away. Even if we have the perfect skill for them to learn, it is important for them to be supported in coming up with their own solutions, if that doesn’t work and they are frustrated, they will then look to you for help. Here is the best time to proceed with what you feel is fitting.
Us therapists have time. Therapy isn’t a sprint. If we were to rush forward and solve their problems for them, it wouldn’t take. People have to discover their own solutions. Therefore, it is an art form to form your questions in a certain way for the big gong to go off inside of them and the solution comes to mind. Gestalt therapists call this the “Ah Ha” moment. The problem that many therapists have is they are stuck in their Ego and obtain that feel-good when they help others and have others dependent on them. The key is to move away from self-gratification and let others revel in their own success.
We were taught in graduate school to let God or whatever representation we had of the divine we believed in make the interventions through us. It is as if the solution just comes to mind and our being in the moment will allow us to follow that inspiration. It is us going by our gut that sessions flow and real miracles come about. If we are stuck in our head, then we aren’t connected to the person seated in front of us. Take in a breath, and try to see their issue from their point of view. Carl Rogers, from Person-Centered Therapy, preached one point of view: “The client has all the resources within themselves to heal.” When we realize that the client is in charge of their own healing, then it helps us move out of the way and simply share in the process of their healing journey.
My friend is a dentist, wishing he was a therapist. He told me that as a dentist he has X amount of time to get a client to agree to something in treatment, maybe 10 minutes maximum. He wished he had the time to let the client process through their feelings and come up with a solution naturally. For therapists, we have to train ourselves to be patient and proceed only at the pace of a client.
It can be frustrating as a therapist, especially those of us trained in Spiritual Psychology, to exhibit this patience. We have been taught a minimum of 10 approaches to mix and match, and it is exciting to demonstrate these skills. But, who are we pleasing? Them? Or, is it really ourselves?
For beginning therapists, it is important to continue with your own therapy. If you have a reaction to what a client is communicating, there is an issue inside of you that needs to be addressed. Ultimately, it is important for us professionals to continually work through our upsets so we can be more compassionate with those who seek our counsel.
For four years in graduate school, all our student body did was counsel one another. The premise was, if we had the same issue as our client, it would trigger us. Therefore, work was conducted, by all of us, to work through as many issues as possible in order to be as centered as we could. According to Spiritual Psychology, it is important for us to allow the healing to flow through us. Once our Ego got in the way, or we were trying to fix others, that flow was disrupted.
Welcome to a new take on therapy. If you want to fix people, you need to fix yourself first. Oh yeah, that is a full-time job, so let them fix themselves – it works better that way.
The last important item is this – people heal. Just knowing this and believing in this concept puts you ahead of the game. Therapy is an art form, it is a merging of two people dedicated to achieving what the customer wants. In knowing that people actually do heal, and we have no means of healing them (that is their job), then relax and enjoy their healing process.
In one of my first job placements, I worked at a luxury residential treatment center in Malibu. The facility was on the slope of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the view was breathtaking. When I finished my first shift there, my friend who got me the job arrived for his overnight shift. He asked me if anybody ever healed. To him, he had seen the same people there for sometimes over a year and never saw real improvements. That was because there wasn’t a program there and all they did was transport clients to and from 12-step meetings. Yes, they had a gourmet chef, and beautiful rooms with a view, but it was more like a warehouse than a treatment facility. I simply replied to him, “Just watch.” I had been seasoned in Graduate School, healed profoundly from childhood trauma, and was confident in my skills. Wouldn’t you know that after two years at this placement, I was fired because my clients were healing too fast?
How do people heal? That is an article in and of itself. The bottom line answer is when people apply love to their hurt, they heal. This is the slogan of Spiritual Psychology. No, it is not for us to apply love to their hurt. This is what they need to do to themselves. We can love and honor them as they go down this troublesome path. It is a process of them revisiting the difficulties in their life and applying love to the part inside of them that went through the situation. This is all we did in crisis care at the Urgent Care Center in Long Beach where I worked for 11 years. People in crisis need to be treated gently and with compassion. Teaching clients to do this to themselves will be the key to your practice.
I hope this article is of help to you. If you wish, please provide any comments or questions. We are here to help you, so our workload remains manageable.
Compassionate Care is Always Available
There are many more tools and strategies you can use in your pursuit of happiness. Here is where we come in. Contact us at Basic Steps Mental Health and let us support and educate you on this journey back to your loving heart center. Imagine living a heart-centered life, regardless of what is happening externally. We’d love to be of help.
For 25 years, Dr. Scott Alpert, the clinical director of Basic Steps Mental Health, has treated over 7,000 people with mental health and addiction problems, using a Psychological approach that mixes and matches ten of the top approaches used in the industry. We are here virtually and in-person to help you get through this COVID-19 pandemic and many other difficulties you may be experiencing.
May you have good mental health.