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The other side of the couch: Why Mental Health Professionals Seek Support Too

Emotions and feelings are inherently universal aspects of the human experience, where professional roles and titles have no bearing. Therapists, despite their expertise in guiding others through their emotional journeys, are not exempt from feeling the same range of emotions as their clients. In fact, their unique profession can sometimes intensify their emotional experiences. Recognising this, many therapists acknowledge the importance of seeking support and guidance from colleagues, underscoring the value of therapy as a vital self-care practice in their own lives.

So, how can you recognise if it's time to seek help and find solace?

  • You experience a nagging feeling of sadness or helplessness.

  • It’s difficult to live through your daily activities

  • You don’t feel better even after spending time with friends and family

  • You are always on the edge or worried

  • You don’t feel empathetic or compassionate towards your clients

  • You are half-heartedly doing the job you were most passionate about

If you experience even one of these feelings, it may be time to consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can guide you through your emotions and teach you how to separate your personal and professional lives. The experience can help you manage your stress and prevent psychic burnout from affecting your daily life. It's not easy, and it's okay to realise that you need help processing your emotions too, especially when dealing with countless people's problems. If you are self-aware, that’s a good start. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

It might seem odd for a therapist to seek help from another therapist, but that's only because of how society has conditioned us to think. There's a misconception that mental health professionals are supposed to have it all together as if they are on some kind of superhuman pedestal without any problems of their own. But the truth is, they are just as human as the rest of us.

There is already a stigma attached to receiving mental health support, and for therapists, this can be even more pronounced. People might think therapists should handle their own issues, no matter how tough they are, or worry about being judged by their peers or clients if they admit they need help. However, as stated earlier, seeking help can leave you feeling at peace, lighter, and even more energised about what you are most passionate about - being a good therapist!

But enough about the world and society, let’s focus on you - how it will benefit you and how seeking help will improve your quality of life.

When you seek therapy, you're giving yourself a chance to better understand your own emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. This self-awareness helps you manage your mental health and recognise how your personal experiences might affect your work with clients. Through therapy, you get to explore your strengths and weaknesses. This insight is especially handy when dealing with tough clients or situations, making you more effective in your work.

Therapy helps you spot any patterns in your thoughts or actions that might be affecting your mental well-being or your interactions with clients. It helps provide a safe space to unpack any unresolved issues from your past. By addressing these issues, you can see how they might be impacting your present relationships and interactions with others, including your clients. This understanding helps you make any necessary adjustments to provide better care.

Lastly, seeking therapy as a therapist is a powerful way to break down the stigma surrounding it. When your clients see that you also attend therapy, it normalises the practice. Moreover, your bond with clients grows stronger when they realise that, like them, you face challenges and seek support.

So, don't hesitate to take that step towards therapy. Take the opportunity to explore your psyche, understand yourself better, and hone your skills as a compassionate and effective therapist. After all, even therapists need a helping hand sometimes - we're all on this journey of self-discovery and growth together.

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