Has your therapist been in therapy? And does it matter? And why is going to therapy a taboo topic?
Let’s muse over this for a moment: What could that mean for you, for them, and for your work together? For some folks, it might be a sign of a strength or health.
Could it mean that they’re weak or even flawed, though? If they’re still doing their own work, does that mean they are not a good match for you? Or, could I argue, this just mean that they are human?
To answer that, you have to consider what therapy means for anyone. Is it the kind of care that flawed people seek? Or it care that could enhance anyone’s life? Of course, I believe it’s the latter.
There is a large school of thought within the psychotherapy community that it’s VITAL to “do your own work”–and to keep doing it. We are often told that we can only help our clients get as far as we ourselves have reached. I’d argue that that is not completely true, because that would give me way too much credit for what my clients do. That being said, there are even articles that help people know what questions to ask a potential therapist that include: “Ask them if they’ve been in therapy and how recently.” (Sources 1 and 2)
Many therapists I know (myself included) may take time to engage in therapy and then take some space away from it. Like others, sometimes a person just needs a break for any number of reasons, and I honor that. Being in therapy, though, can help us remember that we are still connecting with the life we want and with the world around us. And of course, your doctor probably has a doctor, and your massage therapist has a massage therapist. We belong to each other.
And when in therapy myself, I’m extra reminded of how freaking brave and intentional my clients are. It humbles me and helps me consider what might feel more effective or ineffective. It reminds me how exhausting and how exhilarating it can be. And it reminds me that my clients are amazing.
The other day, my best friend reflected that they hope never to be a point where they close their mind to a new perspective.
Yes. That’s it.
And gosh, I sure do hope the same for myself.
Yoga teachers are adamant that people are forever “practicing yoga” and never “doing yoga”. This is a powerful way to frame what we do in therapy. We are looking at how we think, feel, live, relate, and connect. Does any person ever master and complete their personal work? As life evolves and relationships start and stop, children are born, jobs are changed, health takes turns, goals shift, and society pivots, I find that more perspective and care helps us engage and grow and connect.
What does it mean to know that your yoga teacher struggles in a pose at times or doesn’t fully live their practice “off their mat” 100% of the time? Does it mean that they’re less qualified or that they are relatable and human? Therapists aren’t meant to be put on pedestals. In the yoga community, there is a long history of particular people reaching “guru status” falling from grace with scandals and hypocrisy. It happens in many other communities, too. As people in a helping profession, we are meant to be in healthy, intentional relationship with our clients to honor our clients’ needs with a true positive regard. And to do that, we must do our work, too.
So, folks, on that note, I’m going to see if I find a therapist who I click with myself today. Because life is happening, it’s a beautiful day, and growth and exploration feels damn good.