Hi, my name is...Therapist.
...I've heard it more than I'd like, "I give great advice, I should be a therapist."Just because you've given great "advice" to friends does not denote you as a 'great therapist'. It takes a lot more than being the friend that everyone goes too to do therapy.
Frankly, being a therapist was the last career path I thought I would have taken.
Back when I was 18 or 19 years old, my mom saw that she couldn't help me...between my bad behavior and my eating disorder, she made me go see a few therapists. Throughout this period the therapists I came into contact with did absolutely nothing for me. No therapist inspired me to be honest, open or vulnerable. None of them instilled me with the hope I needed to want to work on changing myself.
I attended Montclair State University where I graduated with my Bachelor's in Arts (majoring in Psychology.) I didn't think much of the degree, it was mainly to help me understand the mind and help me in my recovery with my eating disorder. After graduation, with no idea what I was going to do, I found a full-time job at an organic food market which I thoroughly enjoyed. It allowed me to talk (my favorite) and make connections with an array of different individuals. It was in that period where I realized I wanted to move forward with my next educational degree and become a therapist.
I felt my whole life that I had this insight into people, I could reach them and I could let them let me in. I always came from an honest and helpful place...a real place.
I proceeded to get my Master's in Human Science from Monmouth University. Throughout the entire program, we would discuss how eventually you find what therapy you would gravitate too and how you would find your voice as a therapist. To be honest, I didn't feel like I was gravitating towards any therapy....I was truly lost trying to find myself in this therapy world.
I struggled through my masters program trying to develop myself as a therapist. I enjoyed different approaches; the 'why are we here' approach also known as existential therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dealing with behavioral changes and the 'here and now' approach which is basically what it reads, a present approach. I just couldn't hone in on how to reach what one I wanted to use. Until I realized that I could be well-versed in all of them for different clients. This is where I began to realize that I didn't want to do just one treatment, I wanted to be knowledgable and work with a few of them.
After realizing this I began to get out in the therapy working world. I received my first internship and it was then that I realized that this job holds a lot of power. People look at you as if you are a fortune teller and can predict the future. People believe you know exactly how problems should be fixed...which is why since I've started I will remain truthful to those who look at me for therapy...
...I will always remind you that I am only a guide and that you can take my suggestions to follow the different pathways you could travel, but I will never be able to tell you what to do. I don't believe in the therapist doing all the work, this is for you, you need to put in the work to receive the benefits...
My first internship was an eye opening experience. I was definitely abused as an intern. However, it was a great experience to get to see how people can be treated in the work force...on both sides, as therapist and as client. This internship had me second guessing my career path and my skill set. Then I stumbled upon my second internship where it brought me back to my passion for this career. To this day I am still presently working there. I am now the head counselor and provide substance abuse assessments, individual, group, and family therapy. This experience has been wonderful, educational, informative, moving, emotional, and stressful...
To me therapy is an art. As another wonderful Rebecca stated..."I believe therapy is an art that is based on a science," Rebecca Wolf, LCSW Chicago therapist.
I realized my therapy is my creativity mixed with my knowledge. It's an art to get to really know someone, to have them open up their true selves to you. This I feel is the biggest obstacle when helping someone. To have someone be completely vulnerable is my goal because that's when the therapy begins.
When performing therapy I remain transparent. I don't find it beneficial to you to be super positive, I don't believe it's honest. We have a world of negatives, but I want you to be able to utilize those negatives into positives for yourself. I want you to feel safe with me, knowing that no matter what problem or situation you're going through or behavior you need changing, we will face it all together.
I am a therapist who believes in the art of therapy more than the clinical side of therapy because without the client believing and trusting you as a therapist there will be nothing. Each client is a blank canvas and it's my job to figure out if a client would work better with pastal paints whereas another client would benefit with charcoal (metaphor.) Each client is different, each treatment is different based on who the client is and what issues they present to you.
Don't get me wrong, the empirical and science based understanding is extremely important. Without the mix of art and science as a therapist you'll just run around in circles and get no where. I attend trainings, educational events and presentations to be qualified to do the treatments I do and to gain more knowledge. I obviously realize I have to be educated and aware of the different treatment modalities that are out there and how they are changing. I do a lot of reading which I feel allows me to be more informed from different sides of influential individuals and to help continue my education and evolve my therapy. Just like we evolve as humans. I always want to keep evolving myself in both my professional and personal life.
Not every therapist is for everyone. I of course know my limitations and will always recommend or refer someone to other colleagues or therapists that could better benefit certain individuals.
My main goal as a therapist is to help guide people along their journeys and give them the tools to live a better and more fulfilling life. I want you to be able to face the world on your own, because if you reach a place where you don't need me, then my therapy has been successful.