On Being a Therapist

When I introduce myself to people for the first time and I tell them that I am a therapist, one of the first things I am usually asked is: “how can you stand listening to people whine about their problems all day?”  At first, I would give a lot of half-baked replies about the parts that I like about being a therapist.  Eventually, I realized, however, that what people were really asking is: “it is painful for you? and does my own therapist resent me?”

My answer: I love what I do, and I would not trade it for anything.
Yes, it is true that my job entails dealing with, talking about the most difficult and painful parts of people’s lives; more than that, though, it is about helping people improve their lives.  Clients do not come into therapy to complain, they come in to work; they want to make their lives happier and healthier, and my job is to help them achieve that goal.

Just like physicians are faced with disease every day, which is an unpleasant thing in of itself, so are psychotherapists faced with psychological and emotional difficulties.  And, like physicians, the focus of the work is essentially on the solution rather than on the problem.  Disease is not enjoyable, but finding and seeing the results of the right treatment is incredible.

At least, from my perspective as a therapist, that is what the focus should be.
With that, the difficulty of hearing about sadness, worry, and anger throughout my work day is far overshadowed by the joy of seeing people achieve their goals and change what is ailing them when they first come into my office.

Being a therapist is an amazing thing, and an incredible privilege.