The good news is you’re exactly where you should be.
You’re new, after all.
But new only lasts for so long.
You know you’re “too new” when…
The same issues repeat themselves in the therapy room, and clients leave treatment in frustration.
So what about you?
Are you guilty of any of these seven deadly sins on the couch?
This one is as huge.
Maybe even bigger than Freud’s fascination with all things phallic.
Here’s how difficult it is to be a competent psychotherapist:
Step 1: obtain advanced counseling degree.
Step 2: struggle through the process of gaining licensure hours.
Step 3: finally reach that magical number of 3,000+ in supervised clinical work.
Step 4: (eventually) pass the oral and written state boards.
Step 5: “do time” on the community-based organization’s burned out rung for a couple of years to boost clinical chops.
Step 6: wait a few more years and open a private practice.
Except for That Guy.
The hombre with a different interpretation of “paying your dues.”
As in foundation year placement:
“Man. These clients should be paying me for all the awesome help I’m dispensing.”
“Check out my new tricked-out office. My clients are gonna love me and pay a handsome cash-only sum for the privilege of my psychological insight and clinical brilliance. No need to bother with EAP panels or any other insurance based reimbursement system for this guy. Hell-to-the-no.
I was the star grad student, the one who refused to be placed in a middle school setting because, well, “no offense, but I’m going into private practice and I won’t learn anything in an academic setting.”
Or so you thought, dude.
You totally suck.
Oops, was that a Freudian slip?
Tip: Check out #7.
Even though it’s customary to begin the 50-minute hour when the big hand is on the twelve and the little hand points to some specific hour, this gal doesn’t seem to understand that clients have been waiting all week to discuss their issues.
Prolonging the session start time raises anxiety.
Not to mention reinforces the client’s core belief that their time and mental energy are not valuable.
Tip: Check out your local bookstore for time management strategies.
All therapists get frustrated at the slow pace of “getting it” when it comes to theories/direction/pace/modality/competence while in training.
It takes time to build your confidence, and patience is your friend. Most therapists don’t start off running the Boston Marathon straight out of the Master’s gate. We take the process in stride, and show gratitude and humility for the opportunity to be of service.
Tip: When you find your heart racing because you’re not connecting during the psychological intake, ask yourself:
- Am I reviewing the questions thoroughly before I meet my client?
- Do I focus on building rapport before launching into medical history?
- Is there someone I can consult with to provide constructive feedback regarding my interview skills?
4. Research Paper-itis
Being in the therapy room and relating to your client 1:1 is not the same as writing about The Theory of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder for your DSM class.
If your personality is as limp as a wet ramen noodle, your clinical insight doesn’t translate. You may love Research Methods in Counseling Psychology. Your client could care less.
But when you rock those social skills, opportunities for change are endless.
Tip: To paraphrase some former president, it’s the relationship, stupid.
(Yeah, I know that’s not really a word ).
As a clinical supervisor to Master of Social Work interns, I have my favorites.
It’s not the most clinically astute.
Nor the guy with the balls-to-the-wall approach when trying new interventions.
“I was up last night worried about seeing my client for the initial appointment.”
I love that person.
The over-taxed central nervous system may contribute to a less then Zen-like existence, but at the end of the stressed out day, anxious people get the job done, baby;).
Tip: If you’re not nervous before the majority of your sessions, you may want to increase your mental health consultation hours/join a Rookie Therapist support group.
Here’s why I took a five year sabbatical from clinical supervision.
The hundredth time I heard a counseling intern say, “I hate those process recordings–it’s too much work and my hands hurt from typing,” I wanted to jump off the proverbial ledge.
You want to know what hurts? Being a middle-aged man who just lost his job and health insurance, and discovered he has Stage II prostate cancer.
In comparison, the privilege of possessing an advanced degree with the opportunity of earning multiple income streams, while not yet in your third decade, is something to appreciate.
Tip: Check out Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.
Narcissism is usually related to one or more of the other deadly sins. Hubris being the kissing cousin.
You know that clinician who shamelessly promotes his blog posts ad nauseam on Twitter? Or Ms. Motormouth, MFT who hijacks everyone’s time during the Best Practices in Marriage and Family Counseling conference, because apparently the ACA hired the wrong presenter?
Tip: Don’t be that therapist.
Got any sins or tips to add?
Thanks for stopping by,
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