Working as a professional in any industry has its challenges. Physicians, lawyers, and pilots each face a uniquely stressful day each time they go to work. The same is true of professional therapists. Do therapists go to therapy? Therapy for therapists can be an important aspect of their health and well-being, just as therapy can be extremely beneficial for their patients.
A Rewarding Profession with Unique Challenges
The role of a therapist is such that it can take a toll on the individual as well as their family. It is one of the most rewarding professions but comes with its own unique challenges. In addition to any innate issues the therapist may experience from their own life, they can also experience a type of vicarious traumatization from working with clients who share their histories of abuse or trauma. It is at this point, when the secondary trauma begins to affect the therapist, that it may be beneficial for them to speak with another professional.
The Importance of Self-Care for Therapists
Self-care is critically important for a professional in a stressful job. Therapists can benefit from going to therapy themselves as it can help them deal with the traumatization they face personally and residually from their patients. Assessing their self-care strategies can help prevent them from being unable to continue with their work.
Professionals in the therapy field may also be vulnerable to burnout or addiction to drugs or alcohol as a result of the type of work they do and the pressures they often feel. Knowing that they have access to qualified assistance in developing effective coping techniques for themselves can help alleviate therapists’ stress, improve their self-care strategies, and address potential negative consequences of their work.
When therapists go to therapy, they usually do so for the same reasons their clients come to them. One of those reasons is to prevent professional burnout as they begin to experience “compassion fatigue.” This is a major cause of burnout for many people in the healthcare field.
Those individuals in the helping professions are susceptible to the effects of burnout as they spend their career tending to the needs of others. One recent study found that 36% of mental health professionals have faced the potential of burnout at some point in their career. When therapists, physicians, lawyers, or pilots experience burnout, it is not only harmful to themselves but can also be dangerous for those in their care.
Therapy can help therapists work through the issues that lead them to the edge of being burned out in their work. It can help with their self-esteem, improve their symptoms of stress and frustration, and help them become better therapists.
A separate study exploring therapy for therapists revealed that 20% of the participants experienced marital problems or divorce, 14% had general relationship problems, 13% expressed that depression was the most common problem they needed to address in therapy, and 12% had issues related to anxiety, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
Therapists Are People Too
Professionals are often seen as just that—professional individuals who do their job caring for others’ needs and having no personal needs themselves. However, as pointed out by Cornell and Columbia professor and psychiatrist Elena Lister, “Shockingly enough, therapists are also people.” Leslie Prusnofsky, also a psychiatrist and faculty member at Columbia, adds that when treating anyone, regardless of their professional role, “You’re dealing with a lot of people’s pain. Whether it is therapists or lay patients, pain is human, and human suffering is not unique to one group.”
Prusnofsky adds that therapists “know the jargon” and may be better than other clients at hiding the true root of their problems. “Using the jargon is one of the cover-ups to stay away from the depths of what they [the therapist-patient] actually need to explore. If someone comes in saying they have a lot of ‘repressed anger’, you may find with time, the deeper you go, that the anger turns into sadness. What is revealed is a sense of loss or of deprivation that is harder for the person to deal with.”
Help for Professionals at Providence Treatment
Addiction and mental health issues can be especially challenging when you are in a professional position in the medical, legal, and aviation fields. At Providence Treatment, we understand the stigma that may have you concerned. We are a recognized leader in the treatment of behavioral health disorders and substance use disorders, and we also know how important it is for you to be able to prioritize your mental health during COVID-19. We use a telehealth technology that enables us to remain HIPAA-compliant and ensures your confidentiality is maintained. If you need help, contact us at 484.469.9592.