My Favorite Parts of Being a Therapist
Being a therapist is hard work. Not always, though. Sometimes someone I really "get" makes everything in the therapeutic process effortlessly align. I know exactly what the person in front of me needs to hear. I know exactly what it is that will help - and the person I'm working with just runs with it. Other times, not so much. I'm confronted with challenges, things I've never heard before, and struggle to find the right words. The fact of the matter is that we're all pretty complex beings - none of our histories or situations exactly like anybody else's. I dig deep into my therapy "tool box", consult with other professionals, scour resources, and create intricate individualized treatment plans...all with the goal of ultimately helping someone put together the intricate puzzle of their minds and lives. It's hard as hell at times...but man is it rewarding when everything finally comes together...when the collaborative work I'm doing with someone over weeks or months finally starts to pay off. As hard as it can be, there are so many things I absolutely love about this profession...and I can't imagine doing anything else in the world.
Every now and then I like to give readers a little sneak peak into the world of being a therapist. I like to pull back the curtain and expose some of what's sometimes a little mysterious to people on the other side of the room (or screen) - and that's the experience of being a therapist. Specifically, this therapist. Here are a few of my favorite things about this WONDERFUL experience.
- The relationships I get to form. If you've read many of my blog posts, you've probably heard me talk a lot about the "therapeutic relationship" - the interesting and unique relationship between client and therapist. Although it's so different than most other relationships (with more structure and boundaries than that of a friend, family member, or an acquaintance), it's often not without depth and the formation of real bonds. I get excited to meet new people doing the work I do, get to know people on a pretty deep level, and develop sincere care and concern for the clients I see. I'm happy to see them come, sad to see them go, and often wonder how they're doing long after they're gone. Although ethical considerations prevent me from ever taking the relationship outside of the room, I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to get to know people that I would likely have never come into contact with outside of the field I'm in.
- When I'm able to help someone really quickly. Every once in a while, the "relationship" is cut short. Sometimes it's because I'm not the best fit. Other times, it's because therapy was really effective really quickly. Sometimes a little bit of education about an issue or a new way of framing a problem is enough to send people back on their way really quickly. As much as I love getting to know people over time, I also really love it when something powerful clicks really quickly.
- The stories. I'm a curious person - and I love stories. True stories. When my clients are telling me about something going on in their lives, I see it in my mind as if I were at the movies. When it comes to books or movies, I've always preferred non-fiction: real history. real events. real stories. It's the same for the work I do as a therapist...and boy am I engaged in my client's stories...just like at the movies, the stories are sometimes happy and sometimes sad. Sometimes a comedy, sometimes a tragedy, and sometimes both...and just like at the movies, I'm along for the ride. I feel the pain, the happiness, the sadness, and the fear. I mourn the sad endings and I celebrate the happy ones. My clients have powerful stories and I am all ears.
- The "Aha!" moments. Every once in a while, I get to witness moments of profound insight in therapy. A client finally connects some important dots on their own. They understand themselves or a relationship in a way they never have before. An observation I've made resonates with a client at a deep level and allows them to see things completely differently. These moments - the "Aha!" moments - are pure GOLD.
- The positive feedback in the end. Sometimes as my work is coming to an end with someone, I'll get to hear how helpful they think I've been. I'll get more credit than I think I should and be told that they couldn't have done that thing, achieved what they have achieved, or made the positive changes they've been able to make without my help. Although I might provide the platform for change, my clients do the real work. They show up each week, take notes, do the work between sessions, and create their own change through their own actions. Still, when I hear these things I get the fuel I need to keep going, even through the most demanding and hardest of cases...and sure, as reluctant as I am to take all of the credit, I'll take it where it's due. I work hard, really want to help, and know that my efforts and experience have paid off when I'm thanked for my role in helping someone change their lives for the better. After all, we're in it together.
Anyhow, I could probably make a part 2 and 3 of this...maybe even 4. There are a lot of things I really love about being a therapist...but these are the things that came to mind first when I thought about my favorite parts.
If you're considering starting therapy with me (Joel) or with any of our other great therapists (you can see them here), feel free to send us a secure message, to call/text 813-515-9602, or click on the "Request Appointment" button below.
Float on Counseling is located in the Carrollwood area of Tampa. We are offering in-person and secure video sessions to residents throughout the State of Florida.
Joel Schmidt, MA, LMHC