Therapy is Sacred
When you start a therapy relationship, you are opening up yourself to your therapist in a very vulnerable way. Quite possibly in a more vulnerable way than ever before. I have often had people tell me, “I’ve never told THAT to anyone else before.” My relationship with clients is sacred and there is a huge level of responsibility that goes along with that relationship.
Given this sacred space and the relationships that develop through therapy, I firmly believe 100% that it is the therapists’ duty to ensure that their life is fairly in order for them to really be able to be the best therapist. What do I mean by this? I mean that therapists have a higher standard of living- living a life that is healthy- physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Therapists can be Unhealthy
Unfortunately, I have worked with a few therapists over the years that I came to realize where/are extremely unhealthy. They had very bad attitudes, were vindictive, had very little self-care, were functioning in survival mode (financially & emotionally), there was chronic anxiety, and their exercise habits were virtually non-existent, just to name a few things I saw. How can a therapist possibly show up for their client to engage in a healthy therapeutic relationship that inspires life change when they themselves are a mess?
It’s not about Perfection
The challenge is that, of course, no one is perfect. No one has a perfect life. So I’m not talking about perfection. What I am saying is that therapists have a responsibility to live out a healthy life in all ways that exceeds the expectation of living in the average population. If we know how to truly reduce anxiety, depression, move through grief, build a healthy relationship, love ourselves, manage chronic pain, etc, then we should be doing that in our own life, right??? Again, this isn’t perfection. But it is applying our own advice and principles to our life so that no matter where we are at, we are growing in the right direction.
It is eliminating hypocrisy. How would you feel about going to a personal trainer to lose weight when they are 100 pounds overweight? Or going to your family doctor who tells you that you are pre-diabetic and they advise you on losing weight, yet they are 100 pounds overweight? What would it be like to go to a smoking cessation class only to see your teacher puffing a cigarette on break? How about the church pastor who preaches on forgiveness on Sunday but harbors intense anger and resentment towards his spouse?
Again, this isn’t about living a perfect or blameless life. That is impossible. But therapists, good therapists who have the capacity to really be used by God to their fullest potential, are constantly examining their own life and making changes that move them in the direction of health in all areas.
The Gold Standard for Therapists
This should be the Gold Standard. And next time you meet with a therapist, feel free to ask them questions about their own health. I think it is important. Don’t let the blind lead the blind. Don’t trust someone who is an emotional mess in their own life.