Why do I ‘do’ psychotherapy?
Sometimes it is a good idea to stop, take a breath and reflect on your life choices and what you have learned and are learning from those choices. During one such moment I found myself musing over the above question.
Psychotherapy and counseling are, quite simply, service to others and so the answer to the question ‘why do I do it?’ can sound self-serving and maybe even grandiose. And yet, there are those of us who do ‘do it’.
My decision to pursue psychotherapy as a career goal goes back to my growing up years. My mother was an excellent listener. So every day I would come home from school, climb up on the kitchen stool and tell her about my day. It was almost as if I couldn’t quite catch my breath until I had told her everything and processed the events of my day. From her I learned how wonderful it can feel to be fully heard…to have that moment of relief, that moment of being seen and accepted for who you are.
From my father, I think, I learned the gift of compassion and empathy. My father suffered from epilepsy. His seizures developed when I was a very young girl and were never quite fully controlled by the massive doses of medication he took every day of his life. His illness was the single most defining event of my life and quite frankly, it has taken me years to sort through all of the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that resulted for me from his illness.
So, then we come back to the question of ‘why do I do what I do? And sometimes I think it is a habit, a coping strategy I learned many years ago. Yet other times, I think it is a ‘calling’. Through nature or nurture I developed certain gifts…the gift of listening, of empathy, of non-judgement, of curiosity, of responsibility. So I feel as though I must use these gifts…they are an expression of who I am.
What my colleagues had to say–
I posed this question to my colleagues who share this psychotherapy/counseling practice with me. Here are some excerpts from their answers:
“For me, it is simple. I was in middle school when I saw a man on television with glasses on, holding a notebook (writing), and a lady was laying on the couch (chaise lounge, actually) and at that point I knew what I wanted to become in life. Long story short…I want to be a sounding board for others and I want to be a support system for someone who may not have it, may not feel like they have it, or simply want someone else to converse with.”
“Why do I do what I do? 3 reasons– (the short version)
1) I love music.
2) I love helping people.
3) And I’m pragmatic, so combining the 2 things I like most into 1 career seemed like the practical course to take. ”
“I am grateful to have a profession where I can have authentic conversations with my clients. As human beings, we are driven, motivated, and at times distressed by relationships. I work with individuals who desire to have meaningful relationships with themselves and with others, but cannot. Also, I work with couples who love each other so deeply but do not have the right tools to make their relationship work. I approach my clients with research and evidence based data with Christian values and utmost respect in their motivation and willingness to invest in their relationships.”
I hope these musings describe a bit of what motivates us to do what we do and maybe, also, will help you decide if you would like to talk more with any of us about your own personal journey of self-discovery.