A Message to all MFT students and interns

School can teach you so many things. You learn theory, technique, development and more. All of those things that you are learning are important. Very important, pay attention. But the one thing that will give you an even greater capacity to empathize with your client, to fully understand the struggle of vulnerability that you ask of the person in your office, is to be in your own therapy. Some programs require you to be in therapy and the requirements are often minimal - 8 to 12 sessions. Other programs, like mine, encourage it, but don't require it.

I have said before that seeing a therapist who has never been in their own therapy is like going to a dentist that doesn't brush their own teeth. Being aware of yourself will help you manage your reactions to your clients, will give you a deeper compassion for others' sufferings, and will broaden your understanding of the relationship you have with those inside your office and outside in the "real world." 

Prior to my own work I had extreme anxiety. I sublimated this anxiety into overacheiving, being the good one. I had to respond to others quickly, manage their expectations of me and expectations of myself, and felt greatly wounded when I was misunderstood. I believe without the work I would have done, these things would be brought into the session with my clients. I would not be grounded like I am today. No...I am not perfect (cue sound of shock and awe) and yes, I am still in my own therapy. I love it. I am constantly learning. 

No theory could prepare me for my self discovery. No classroom setting would prepare me for riding alongside my clients the way I do after having this inner reflection. No requirement for therapy from my program would limit me to brief sessions and stop me from doing the deep work that I needed to do.

So I know you are scared. Maybe you don't know what you will discover. I know you think you can't afford it. I say you can't afford not to go. In the long run, if you aren't doing your work, you won't be as good as a therapist as you could be. Which then leads to - you won't be able to maintain clients and build your reputation - which then leads to lost money anyhow. 

Your own therapy is an investment in your future, your career, in your family and changing your family tree. This is about radically accepting who you are, what makes you wonderful and what parts of the past you carry that are burdensome and need to be let go. I offer a discount to students and interns in my practice. Even if you aren't in my area, when you call a therapist, ask if they do the same. What do you have to lose? You have nothing left but to gain.