Being a passionate therapist can have its upsides and downsides. For me it’s been mostly upsides. In today’s newsletter, I want to share some insights I had after reading a beautiful reflection on four decades of being a therapist from one of my heroes Janina Fisher. It’s an easy, short read and has take aways for early career and seasoned therapists. I’ll link in the article below
Of the five points that Janina simply, yet expertly covered, what stuck with me most was the words that I’ve copied in italics below.
I wish I’d known enough to accept that it’s a client’s right to be stuck, to be afraid of emotions or memories, to refuse to believe they have worth.
It’s their right to resist what I offer or resist hope or fight self-compassion
After 39 years in practice, I’ve finally made my peace with how hard and frightening it is to change. I’ve finally let go of my need for my clients to change—which may be the most important thing I’ve ever offered them.
For so many therapists I supervise, and for me, honoring a client’s reality of being stuck is one the hardest things to do and one we often fight, even after we’ve learned the lesson a few or many times. Accepting “stuckness” is hard and even unwelcome because we are trained to be agents of change, we want to help. We may even have received messages such as you are not skilled enough or you are colluding with the client’s avoidance.
It’s important to distinguish the difference between accepting the client is stuck and giving up on them. As agents of change, we are there ready for when our clients are able to face what they need to face. But we can learn a lot from Janina’s statement that we can let go of our need for the client to change. We can stop making the clients current state of being stuck about us and come to terms with the feelings of helplessness and powerlessness that we feel when someone won’t allow us to help them.
To read Janina Fishers beautiful article in full click here What four decades of practice has taught me? If you love it, hit reply and tell me what your favourite take away is.
Before I go….
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