Welcome to this week’s Question and Answer post!
I hope you find this useful and informative.
These Wednesday posts wouldn’t be possible without your questions, so get asking!
Either leave a comment below with your question, or message me via this contact form.
This week’s question, from a counselling client, points to a very important part of the therapeutic relationship and how it might be affected by a variety of things:
My counsellor mentioned that they are seeing a therapist, should I be worried? Should I find a new therapist?
This is a very good question, and one with many layers to my answer.
First, there is the topic of self-disclosure.
Some counsellors would never tell their clients about what goes on in their private life, whilst others might not blink in telling their clients certain things, especially if they are for the benefit of the client.
I would need a bit more context to see what the purpose of your therapist telling you this was. I don’t see much harm in this disclosure though, which takes me to my next point.
Second, there is the ethical background to a therapist having their own therapist. Every counselling course asks that the trainees attend personal therapy for the duration of the course. If a course doesn’t, then I’d doubt their ethical and professional grounding (but that’s just me!). So for us in the profession, talking about going to our own therapy is more common than you’d think!
I hope that helps ease your mind a bit about your therapist attending their own therapy!
Third, there is the question of how you feel about your relationship with your counsellor. How long have you been working with them, how helpful have they been, how would you feel about starting again with a new counsellor? Can you work through your worries with them about their disclosure?
Lastly, I would say be worried if your therapist has never been to therapy themselves! I have seen and hear of people working as counsellors and supervisors that get overwhelmed with their clients’ stories and distress that they leave the job or make big mistakes and do more harm than good to their clients and themselves! Others might not know how to work through the various situations that come up in therapy (transference, projective identification – or the feelings that come up for the therapist in response to what the client tells them) this might lead to reacting in a way that harms the therapeutic relationship and makes the situation worse for the client!
I’d say it’s healthy and recommended for therapists to have their own therapy, whether i be every week, every fortnight, or have catch up sessions when things are getting a bit much in their practice.