Training to become a licensed therapist is a unique experience. Sometimes it’s challenging to explain to others what it all entails (clinical hours, supervision, paperwork, and trainings), but it can be even more difficult to describe the emotional energy that being a therapist requires.
For those of you who are Associate MFTs completing your hours or students in a MFT program, here are two books that you might find helpful. They both dig deep into what it takes to become a therapist, the experience of working with clients, the toll that it can take, and how to manage it all. I hope that they will help you on this journey that you’re on.
PS: I'm recommending these books for beginning therapists, but I think that all therapists, however many years of experience you have, might find some wisdom and encouragement in them.
(By the way, this is the second post in a series specifically for Associate MFTs and MFT students. The first post was on test preparation tips.)
Letters to a Young Therapist by Mary Pipher: In a series of letters to a former supervisee, Pipher reflects on what she's learned throughout several decades of working as a therapist. The letters are full of compassion, wisdom, and insight.
“I encourage clients to understand and accept the past with all its complexity. Then I urge them to move on to create something beautiful for themselves and others. We all have our sorrows, but they don’t exempt us from our duties” (p. xxii).
On Being a Therapist by Jeffrey A. Kottler: This book provides an in-depth exploration of the challenges of being a therapist ranging from self-care to running a practice to sitting with clients day in and day out.
“Can the therapist be immune to the influence of prolonged exposure to human despair, conflict, and suffering? Can the professional helper resist the inevitable growth and self-awareness that come from studying another life? Can he or she remain the same after being in the presence of so many who are changing? Whether we like it or not, the decision to be a therapist is also a commitment to our own growth” (p. x from the Preface).
I’m Elaine Gee-Wong and I'm a therapist with a private practice in Santa Clara, CA.
Any information or advice on this website is for informational purposes only, and should not take the place of information or care provided to you by your physicians, medical, or mental health care professionals.