3 Lessons I’ve Learned Since I Started Training As A Therapist

Four years ago, I decided that I wanted to become a therapist. I started my Certificate in Humanistic Counselling with the aim to qualify and have a career change. I loved my degree,  I was looking forward to studying and essay writing once again. Little did I know that this decision would drastically change my life, the way I see myself in the world and that I would not end up becoming a therapist.

Before I started the course, I read lots of articles that warned me that Psychotherapy training was a huge emotional investment, one that might change my life and affect my existing relationships. I remember thinking… “not me, I already know myself so well, I am just doing this for some academic stimulation and a potential career change.”  What I did not realize was how little I really knew myself, how out of touch I was with my emotions. 

I learned so much during this year of my life that it is hard to put it into words. However, I am going to attempt to by outlining three main takeaways.

1. Projection has A LOT to answer for.

A requirement of my course was that each student had to be in their own personal therapy. I cannot stress enough how little I thought I needed this – I did it purely because I had to. At first, the sessions were extremely challenging. I felt attacked and judged. Dreading every session. s. Only later did I come to realize that this was a projection, a displacement of feelings that came from my own insecurities and not one necessarily based in reality.

Projection is something we all do, all the time. It is almost impossible to be human and not project your own personal experience onto a situation or a person.  Most of the time though, projection is unconscious. A defense mechanism. A way for us to protect ourselves by finding negatives in others. I protected and denied my own judgemental nature, by projecting it onto others. I found my training incredibly helpful in identifying and managing my insecurities. By the end of the year, this sense of being judged still existed, but I was aware of why I felt this way, and BIG changes started to happen.

2. Change is scary… but good.

In one of those first personal sessions, I asked “what is the ultimate aim of therapy?” My therapist replied something along the lines of “therapy allows us to understand ourselves, our patterns and our behavior in a way that might facilitate change and growth.” My response? “But I don’t want to change”.

I was so resistant to change, so trapped in the life that I was living that the idea of changing it seemed impossible. And yet, after one year of training, everything had changed enormously. Don’t get me wrong… it was not easy. In fact, it was VERY painful.The best way to describe it is that I had a sort of awakening.  I came to the realization that the situation I was in was not a happy one, and I was in fact scared, desensitised to my feelings (as a way of coping), and, most importantly, unhappy. This realization was horrible. But it was only through this process of self-awareness that I was able to change my life.

The change I underwent was beyond my wildest dreams, monumental and very evocative. It was terrifying and liberating in equal measure. 

3. No magic cure.

Therapy is NOT a magic cure. Even though I knew this, and even though I preached it  I fell under the spell of feeling ‘fixed’. I have recently gone back into therapy, realising that I have a huge discord between the old me and the new me. I never really gave time for all my therapy and personal transformation to integrate. Now that I am seeing a therapist again, I realise that I will always be in and out of therapy. This is NOT a bad thing. Therapy provides a space to heal. To confront your ugliest truths and to learn a little bit more about who you are.

For me, therapy is a lifelong process, with no end goal. The journey of self-discovery is what is important.

Life is beautiful and it is also painful. We have little control over what obstacles are thrown our way. All we can do is look after ourselves and try to navigate the road ahead in the best way we can. Therapy helps me do this.

“It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn.”

Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled

Originally published on blog.usejournal.com

Featured Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

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