Experience alone won’t make you an authentic therapist. Here’s why.

I received the following question via my group entry question to my group Authentic Confidence for Therapists.

Hi Nadene, how does experience impact authenticity as a therapist – does it evolve over time? I’d be interested to know.

I love this question so much because it allows me to talk about why I started my mentoring business.

Many people assume that experience alone will build authenticity and confidence as a therapist. My experience over the last 20 years suggests that this is not always to case.

I often meet people who have been a therapist for more years than I have, who lack confidence and are still paralysed by unrelenting standards and ridiculously high levels of self-doubt.

I see therapists riddled with fear that people will judge their therapeutic skills when they perform role plays at training.

I see therapists still struggling to clearly identify a niche, what they work well with and what models of therapy they are most aligned with.

I see therapists struggling to feel ok if they are not perfect in life. Worried that their clients will see them for who they really are. Worried about what a client might think if they knew their therapist had struggles in llife too.

I meet therapists unable to authentically connect with clients. Therapists who are afraid to use the relationship to heal their clients.

Therapists who rely too heavily on content and intellectualised explanations and avoid processing and connecting with clients and their emotions through the therapist-client relationship and experiential exercises.

Can experience help shape authenticity and confidence? Absolutely.

Just as knowing yourself can help deepen your authenticity as a person more generally, but only if you are open to knowing yourself fully, the good and the average and the bad. Knowing yourself without flexibility or without examining your shadow won’t lead to true authenticity.

Rather than years of experience, it needs to be the right kind of experience.

For example, some training and employment experiences can take you further away authenticity and confidence. For more, listen to my video have you been traumatised by your training here.

There are ways you can shape your authentic therapeutic voice.

There are ways to connect more authentically with clients.

There are ways you can take charge and reduce your self-doubt to a therapeutically helpful level so that it doesn’t interfere with your authenticity. To find out why some level fo self-doubt is good read this.

There are ways you can recover your authenticity and confidence from unhelpful training and work experiences.

But time alone will not do it.

If you’re interested in developing your authentic therapeutic voice and increasing your confidence, contact me about my mentoring service. And keep an eye out for my new course Become the Boss of Your Therapy Room, specifically designed to help improve therapist confidence. Join the waitlist to be the first to here about early bird offers.

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