During both my Master’s and Doctoral programs, I was “mandated” to go to therapy. Okay, mandated might be too strong of a word, but a year of therapy was strongly encouraged prior to graduation. The idea behind this requirement is that it is important as therapists that we experience the process of therapy, not only to work through our own issues, but also to understand more fully what it was like to be a client.
I attended these sessions diligently. After all, I was brought up to be a good student and learned to follow through on academic requirements. As I reflect back on my experience in therapy over the course of my education, I realize now that I was not fully engaged in the process. I didn’t really think I had any serious issues to deal with and was quite happy to attend sessions with my cup of coffee in hand and have a nice chat with my lovely therapist. No big deal. I went through the motions and missed out on what could have been a transformative experience.
When I graduated from my Doctoral program, I was carrying a very exciting and life-changing secret. I was 2 ½ months pregnant with my daughter! Thank goodness for the graduation robe that masterfully disguised my already developing baby bump! I was about to trade in textbooks for diapers, schedules for chaos and control for vulnerability. My formal education was about to end, and real life was about to begin. Life as I had known it up to this point, was about to change dramatically.
This was the first time I came to the realization that the therapist, needed a therapist. About halfway through my maternity leave, when my daughter was about 6 months old, I engaged in my first authentic experience with my own therapist. It was absolutely life changing.
I finally had no choice but to let my guard down and allow myself to be seen completely by a helping professional. It was both scary and exhilarating at the same time. I was about to embark on a journey towards increased self-awareness and wholehearted living.
I valued the experience so much that I now commit to seeing her for about 6 sessions every year. It is my own way to not only practice what I preach, but to also receive the gift of self-care. It is truly an indulgence to have 1 hour all to myself to share openly with my therapist my triumphs and struggles in the hopes that something small might begin to shift within. She listens supportively and journeys respectfully with me. She helps me to notice what often goes unnoticed in the demands of a busy life. What a gift.
This gift of personal growth within a compassionate environment is one we all deserve. Yourself included. My eyes were opened to my own need when I realized that vulnerability was no longer an option; it was a requisite for meaningful relationships. I am so grateful to my daughter and husband for showing me that no matter how much training I have in this crazy relationship stuff; I am not beyond needing my own support at times.
If any of the following statements describe your lived experience, it may be time to seek support:
I feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious so often that it interferes with my life and relationships.
I feel sad, alone or depressed so often that it interferes with my life and relationships.
I have experienced physical, emotional or sexual trauma in my past.
I have unresolved issues with my family of origin.
I have a hard time saying no.
I long for greater connection with my partner.
I am going through a life transition and feel stuck or lost.
I have a hard time making decisions.
I want to feel more confident.
I want to experience a greater sense of purpose and passion.
There is an idea that therapists are simply wounded healers. I joyfully and humbly accept this title. Access healing in your own life. It’s a choice you will never regret.