A Client First

This is my first foray into blog-writing and in a strange way I feel very at home already. I am in the final year of training to become a counsellor/psychotherapist and I suppose I am already beginning to wonder if the world of the qualified therapist provides the same space for discussion and exploration of ideas that I enjoy weekly at university. Perhaps I am scoping out new territory in which to…well, I’m not sure…express? explore? ignite debate? challenge my preconceptions? Maybe all of these. I tread lightly as I take my first steps into this uncharted terrain and bring with me an open mind and enthusiasm to learn and grow.

The title of this blog alludes to my introduction to psychotherapy, which was (and still is!) to experience therapy as a client. As I move into psychotherapy as a career, I am sometimes uncomfortable with what I describe as an ‘us and them’ attitude I have occasionally experienced from practitioners. At the beginning of my learning, I witnessed a tutor declare to the students “All clients lie!”. As inexperienced as I was at the time, I found this sentiment jarring and frustrating. As a client I felt a real sense of the inherent power imbalance, as though I were stood at the foot of a mountain, vying to be heard by those at its summit.

My experiences in psychotherapy  have not always been positive. My first therapist displayed a disregard for therapeutic boundaries which was not only unhelpful, but actively harmful. When I subsequently sought consultation with an excellent therapist, I noticed that even he sometimes struggled to know how best to work with the fallout from my previous therapist. I have found that almost no literature or research exists on working with clients who have been harmed in therapy and meeting the unique needs of this client group. I hope to be able to contribute in this area; I want the profession to be able to confront this aspect of its shadow and not to shy away from the harm that we can do as practitioners. I want clients who are wary of reentering therapy know that therapists want to help them. That we are by their side, that we want to understand what is happening for them, and that we do not fear working with them. I feel that an open conversation in the profession is essential to achieve this.

So, that’s a little bit about me and my interests. In this blog you can expect my thoughts and comments on all things psychotherapy, a strong leaning towards the rights of clients and the ethical responsibilities of therapists, and probably some poetry here and there too!

 

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