A therapist's journey is often a difficult one. The courses can often be grueling and an anxiety provoking journey of self discovery, couple this with the written/academic work, and then add having your eyes opened to what is going on around, you're in for a change, maybe one of the biggest changes you will see in life. As trainee therapist change, so do their relationships. A lot of people don't like change very much, and this can impact negatively on relationships. A trainee therapist learns about themselves and start to stretch and flex their person that had been dormant or left to dwindle, they may start to challenge the statusquo of relationships and not only their personal ones. I think that it is probably a nightmare at times - for all involved.
Once training has been completed and over 100 hours of voluntary work that has been scrutinized and criticized, it maybe time to look for paid work. Paid work in the therapy world is scarce, very scarce. What isn't scarce though is the amount of qualified and experienced therapists. It is not unusual for 100 people to apply for one job - which is probably only 21hrs per week and about 25-30k pro rata, and is a short term contract anywhere from 3-12 months.
This may all sound very negative, well it isn't. The reason people do therapy as a job is the love for it, it's certainly not for the money or the ease. We don't just sit in chair and listen, we are constantly thinking and empathising with our clients, we are trying to be as helpful as we can be, we are trying to be as present and engaged as we possibly can be. Sometimes I believe that we are trying harder to understand, than the people who sit in front of us. There will of course be a reason for this - our clients often come to use burnt out, or what the medical world call 'depressed'. So someone's depressed - don't possibly give them time and space to recover, we can't have that in our western capitalist society, give them drugs so they can get back to it as soon as possible and become more efficient for work at the same time.
Therapists can be like intimate best friends with their clients, without the bells & whistles of friendship - you wont be going a theme park together (unless you have a CBT therapist and you are scared of theme parks). A relationship with a therapist can feel one way and very boundaried - this is part of the reason it can be so helpful. The relationship should be a safe one , where clients can truly become or start to become themselves. Our clients can work to an ending in therapy whereby all issues are worked through, and they can continue with life. In reality many clients get to a point which is difficult for one reason or another, and end with their therapist without warning or explanation, this can be difficult for a therapist (we are human although we may seem a little odd at times in the therapy room), again there are reasons for this clients ending suddenly that the therapist understands, and if they don't understand, they try to understand, and try to work out why the ending occurred.
I wouldn't change my job for the world it constantly challenges me, and I never hear an identical story or meet identical people. I also get to meet amazing people.
Chris Rudyard MBACP
Professional, experienced counsellor/psychotherapist in Liverpool