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Journeying your Path as a Newbie Therapist

If you are new to the professional world and are looking to break your way out of the academic training you’ve been accustomed to, read on to find your groove.

Cut out the ‘Know-it-All’ attitude.

Nobody knows it all. Although it might seem that way, the truth is that even therapists with years of experience may sometimes get stuck with their clients. Research and data on mental health are constantly emerging and new discoveries are being made. It’s important to be in check with the latest developments in order to benefit our clients.

And, while the field evolves, our clients evolve too. We might think we know our clients well, after all the sessions that have taken place, but the minute that attitude steps in, we have completely lost out on all that progress. While we have the required skills and training, we are only a means of mirroring it to our clients and being witnesses to their journey.

Pop the ‘Imposter’ in You

There will be constant doubt and imposter as a newbie therapist. Even when there’s reason to believe your client is progressing, you might find a way to doubt yourself. While this is normal in the initial stages, do not let it take away your confidence. Know that it is your skill and the efforts you put into your client’s well-being that yields progress. You can even explore this with a supervisor of your choice who can help you appreciate your skills and effort.

Be Open and Take on Challenges

Be open to all and any clients. When we’re new with limited experience, we tend to sway with what feels comfortable, because that’s where our familiarity and confidence lie. However, in order to understand our strengths and areas of interest, it’s best to take everything that comes our way. That way, we gather relevant experience and skillsets. We might experience some rough and challenging times, but it’s important to take it in our stride and grow and evolve. Holding onto the negative side of these challenging times can lead to excess self-doubt, thereby decreasing your confidence.

Learn from your Mistakes

Allow yourself to make mistakes and do not be harsh on yourself. You can learn what to do right from the things you did wrong. Every step of the way is a learning process. Through your journey, there will be a lot of discovering, unlearning, and relearning involved, use it to suit yourself.

You may also begin to understand yourself better and may also go through your own journey of healing. Sometimes, you might even feel like a hypocrite sitting on the other side pretending you have it all together and that’s okay. We need a constant reminder that we are human first.

Learn to have Conscious Reflections

Be aware and reflect on how your culture, upbringing, and past experiences can shape the way you view systems of existing inequalities and keep a track of unconscious biases that might come up, that may affect the view you view your clients.

After a session you’re happy or unhappy with, reflect on what was missing and how you can do better the next time you see them.

Experience what it’s like to be the client

In order to be able to connect with your clients, you need to know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of therapy. Before you take on your first client, take a therapy session for yourself and see how it makes you feel. See, if there’s anything you would do differently for your clients.

As a human, you need to be able to have a safe space for yourself, so you can be that safe space for your clients.

Find your Unique Style

There is no particular style, or one size fits all way of working with your clients. Over time, you will learn what works best for you and it’s also perfectly normal if you find that it keeps changing. Explore as much as you can in the initial stages of your career, and observe and learn from those around you.

You are Allowed to be Imperfect

You do not have to have it all figured out because you’re a therapist. You are allowed to have your own struggles, you’re allowed to be angry, and impatient, and have a life outside of work without the fear of being judged or called out.

What makes you a good therapist is not just you’re patience and empathy but also your skills and years of hard work and effort that allow you to be able to hold that safe and non-judgmental environment for your client.

Throughout your journey, there will be several learnings and aha moments you will encounter and you will eventually realize some of your biggest learnings have come from your own clients, life experiences, and supervisors around you and not from the textbooks and theories.

True learning comes from accessing the human side of you.

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