When I’ve talked to people about my decision to enter into the family therapy profession, I often get a comment that goes something like this:
“It’s got to be depressing sometimes listening to people’s problems all day.”
As I began my Master’s program last year, and anticipated the therapy work that I would begin as part of my practicum, this was one of the many sources of anxiety that I felt myself. Would I be able to protect myself and remain positive when working with people faced with all kinds of difficult challenges. People rarely come to see a therapist when they’re feeling happy and everything’s OK. Some days reading the news can be depressing enough, would I be able to handle spending hours each day talking with clients too?
My colleagues and I talked about these worries as well as the dozens of others that new aspiring therapists have going through their heads, both in class and in between. Though both professors and senior students offered words of advice and reassurance, this fear was still very present in my mind when i scheduled my first client and set out to begin my career as a therapist.
Since that first session I’ve been continuously amazed at how hopeful I’ve felt coming out of my sessions with clients. True, my clients have come to see me because they are faced with a number of different challenges, but the important thing that unites them is that they have made the decision to come and see me in the hopes that these challenges can be addressed or overcome. It’s been incredible for me to meet people who are faced with some really difficult challenges, and who have sometimes had to endure some incredibly painful experiences, who are so determined to overcome them. Though their life is in a hard place right now, they believe that it can be different and that they can get there.
A part of this that has really stood out for me has been the resilience that I’ve seen in the clients that I’ve worked with. Some of the stories that my client’s have shared with me have been quite overwhelming even just to hear about and yet I’m reminded that this was their lived experience. This is what they’ve gone through. The fact that they have found a way to continue on and find happiness in success in their lives despite this has often left me in a state of awe.
Working as a therapist is still very challenging, especially so early in my career, and there are definitely sessions where I leave feeling drained and overwhelmed. However, I keep on coming back to that sense of hope that my clients have shown me and, for me, that makes all the difference.
Being witness to the extraordinary resilience that they have to address the challenges that they are faced with and to be a part of the process to help them find sources of hope and change in their lives is the reason why I became a therapist. It’s why I hope to continue working in this role for many years to come.
Sometimes I think it’s important for me to remind myself.