How owning your flaws as a therapist increases authentic confidence

Many people are attracted to my writings and videos because they want to be free of self-doubt and self-criticism. It can be disappointing to find out that although I want to help people feel more confident as a therapist, I also recommend having some level of self-doubt because the research shows overly confident therapists are not best for clients.

Therapists with no self-doubt make too many assumptions and don’t stay on top of the latest research and ideas. They do not possess the vulnerability required for an authentic therapeutic relationship.

In this article, I’m going to go further and say to be an authentically confident therapist you have to know your flaws. You have to know where you are weakest as a therapist. You have to be able to admit you have flaws.

If you can’t or don’t acknowledge your weak points, you are unlikely to notice when those weak points don’t serve a client. You are unlikely to see how those weak points create problems for you and your cleints and where they create problmes in the therapy techniques you deliver.

But mostly, its because we ask our clients to be vulnerable in our therapy room. With them we discuss the hardest things, where their personality traits don’t serve them, what they would like to be different or better. If we can’t own those things in ourselves as a therapist, then we are not modelling what we are encouraging in our clients.

One of my flaws as a therapist is that I get bored with repetition. I like to offer new things and have new conversations. This means I might try to get at something a client is stuck with a million different ways rather than repeat the same exercise. But for clients, especially those building new skills or who are very stuck, repetition is important. Repetition provides stability and practice that strengthens the learning. Knowing this about myself helps me make a better decision about whether to repeat an exercise or choose something new.

My other flaw is that I like to do things quickly and I love rapid change and results. If I do not manage this, it creates problems in the relationship for those clients who need space and time to think about their difficulties or who are on long term healing journeys due to significant and longstanding traumas. It can also make some clients feel rushed or pressured in what can be a world that requires pace and fast reactions. I have to make a conscious effort to slow my pace and be patient with slower journeys rather than refer on clients who stop progressing at the pace that feels comfortable for me.

Authentic confidence is not about never feeling self-doubt or being a perfect therapist. It is about being honest about your strengths and weaknesses. It’s about being human with another human, not a perfect and infallible therapist.

I want you to see your strengths and also your weak points. I want you to own all of it and be ok with that. Like our clients, we are not all flaws or all strengths. When you are aware of who you are, you can manage that better and it makes you a better therapist.

Want more posts like these? Join my mailing list (and get my free ebook) or facebook group today. If you want to explore how to manage your strengths and weakness to develop authentic confidence, contact me to discuss mentoring or clinical supervision.

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