On being the therapist in your family

Nicole De Khors / Burst / Used under licenseIf you didn’t know this about me, I’m a white woman. Most psychotherapists are white women. (See the demographics of psychologists as an example.) When I sat down to write about how families respond when a family member starts down the road to becoming a therapist, I knew that culture and family background would have a lot to do with it. So instead of just focusing on my own experience, I decided to also interview some of my colleagues, to see what it was like being the therapist in their families. The differences surprised me.

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Cyber-stalk yourself

Matthew Henry / Burst / Licensed under Creative Commons ZeroWhen potential or current clients or employers search your name, what will they find? What impression do you leave? There’s one easy and absolutely necessary way to find out: Cyber-stalk yourself.

Even if you are still in grad school and not seeing clients in the near future, it is never too early to start caring about your professional reputation. This is not as simple as switching your social media accounts to private. When you search your name on Google or any other search engine, things from your past may come up that you may have forgotten about. And if those results show up for you, they’re like to show up for others, too. Like prospective clients. And potential employers.

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Senioritis: The last stretch of hours before licensure

Brodie Vissers / Burst / Used under licenseWe all remember the last semester of high school. A new life chapter was approaching. Our childhood was ending. We would soon experience the freedom of the college world.

It was scary to know that we would be on our own, but we were itching to leave. We knew the quality of our work did not reflect what we were capable of, we just wanted it out of the way. I even remember calculating how much I had to do to just barely pass my classes and coast through the rest of my school year. It did not matter that more difficult times and more responsibility were imminently ahead of us, we just wanted to be done with high school. We called it “senioritis.”

Nearing the end of your 3,000 hours towards licensure can be eerily similar.

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“At least it’s not cancer.”

Courtesy Emma JaegleI was working in a residential treatment center for teens. It was a typical mid-week day, and I was supervising “school time,” a period where clients are able to work on their treatment assignments and homework from their schools back home. Often during this hour, the primary therapists would pull the clients for individual sessions. I happened to know that today was the day that Nicole* was going to be given her diagnosis of depression, and I was prepared to help her process her emotions should she need coaching after her return from session. Sure enough, Nicole returned from her therapist’s office with a solemn look on her face. When she sat down away from her peers, I walked over to her and asked, “How did it go?”

She let out a sigh, “Well, I found out my diagnosis.”

I nodded. “I see. What’s that like for you?”

“I guess it’s better to know what’s going on and have an explanation for everything. At least it’s not like I have cancer!”

That comment gave me pause. I thought: But I have cancer.

Read more“At least it’s not cancer.”