A Therapist's Blog - What I Have Learnt From My Clients
When we think of therapy, we imagine an expert helping someone to deal with a problem. But from my own experiences as a therapist, there has been so much that I have learnt through conversations with people in difficult circumstances, and some of what they have told me has stayed with me even months after we last spoke. It could be the interaction I have with a client, their experiences, the process of therapy, or even the clients themselves who have taught me more than I expected to learn.
I have come to understand how important it is to have authentic relationships. For me, this meant that I allowed myself to laugh and be sad with my clients. Being congruent with who you are is not just therapeutic for clients - it goes a long way in showing your clients that you are human and also in helping you be yourself outside of therapy.
It also means being more open and honest, and having difficult conversations about progress and feedback. I learnt to ask not only for what I knew wouldn’t be easy to hear, but also to accept it and adjust to the client’s needs and requirements, by trusting that people know what can help them and that they have the strength to go on when it seems like nothing else will work out.
I have also started trusting myself, and forgiving myself for not being able to always fulfil my clients’ needs. I’ve accepted that we’re all different, and life moves at a different pace for each of us. It helps me avoid getting stuck when I think my own failed life plans and unfulfilled dreams.
I’ve learnt that you don’t need to fill in silences all the time with questions or inferences. Clients sometimes need that space to process what’s going on, and sometimes, you might need it too. Just providing support and guidance can help in building confidence and self worth.
With time, I also became okay with the idea of asking numerous questions to understand the bigger picture. They began to feel less like an intrusion of privacy when they stemmed from curiosity and admiration for the resilience that clients show, and a much better alternative to assuming something I don’t know.
But, therapy has also taught me how understanding people can be. My apologies have always been met with a considerate ear from clients, whether I misinterpret what they say, or fumble while framing questions.
And change! I’ve usually dealt with change by closing a chapter of my life and never looking back. I have learned that it doesn’t need to be that way. Change can mean growth, and it is important to look back and see what has helped make it happen, and leave room for it, even when you’re comfortable with where you are.
I’ve also encountered situations in which clients have spoken about things that strike too close to home. I’ve wanted to run from them and not think about myself or answer those uncomfortable questions I ask clients. I know that therapy is not easy, but I have imbibed the courage to ask for help and be vulnerable when I need it. Self-exploration is difficult, but clarity can be helpful.
If you would like to talk, feel free to reach out to us. An InnerHour therapist would be able to help.
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