I was recently interviewed by Relationships Are Complicated, a newly-launched relationships magazine. Enjoy my interview below, and check out their site for more interviews with therapists from across the world.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?
It’s therapy’s dirty little secret that doing this work is extremely rewarding for therapists and clients alike. I identify with the concept of the wounded healer archetype coined by Carl Jung. To paraphrase, maintaining awareness of your own personal wounds while acting in service of your clients is an incredibly rewarding, and mutually beneficial experience. Jung asserts that being wounded does not make you less capable of taking care of the client, rather it makes you a companion to your client, no longer acting as your client’s superior.
What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?
I love working with clients who are examining aspects of how they feel empowered or disempowered in their relationships. This type of insight oriented work might involve assisting a client in clarifying their boundaries, or pointing out their defense mechanisms.
Lately I have found that many of my clients are interested in exploring non-normative types of relationships such as ethical non-monogamy. I love assisting clients along their path towards finding relationships where they feel fulfilled, free, and happy. Often this involves unpacking cultural and family of origin messages around relationships and gender.
What are some of the biggest mistakes a therapist or patient can make?
I think a mistake I made was trying not to be vulnerable with my clients. As a therapist, you can model for your clients how to address conflict within your relationship in a healthy way. Not that this is easy! One of my biggest breakthroughs with a client occurred when I noticed a misstep I had made, and brought it up during our session. Instead of creating distance in our relationship, our connection was deepened.
For a client, it can be a mistake to rely too heavily on a therapist as the vehicle for change, when in fact it’s a collaborative effort. This reaction may be a defense against acknowledging their own ambivalence towards committing to their inner work, or simply because they are new to therapy. To address this, I often work to empower my clients by enlisting them as the experts of their own experience.