It isn't often that anyone thinks about what it took for someone else to achieve what they have
To be fair, we all don't know what is required for every profession. Sometimes we assume that to do any particular job, it may take the same approximate qualifications as for whatever job we do ourselves does. This is natural. I know, for example, sort of what it takes to earn a medical license, but not exactly. I do have a sense of how it is to do the work for a PhD, the next degree up from mine. A high school graduate may not really have a sense of what has to go into graduating from college. Most college graduates will probably have some appreciation for what graduate school entails. And, of course each profession has other requirements, such as those I wrote about above, that will be unique. Most people won't know about them.
We may also, on the other hand, give more credibility to a particular title than warranted. Sometimes we make assumptions that a medical technician, because he has on a white coat, has more knowledge about medical matters than he really does. So this can work the other way too.
Perhaps because we therapists don't, in fact, wear a white coat, we are thought of as knowing less than we do. We dress in professional style work clothes. We are in an office with no special equipment. In fact, most of us have an office that looks more like a living room. They are designed to be comfortable and inviting, not intimidating. But sometimes I wonder if these cues are misinterpreted---if some patients think that a session is just a visit almost like what one does with a friend.
Obviously , everyone is going to be different about the assumptions they make---about any of us in any job. But, over the years, I have had enough comments and indicators to know that the level of training and expertise that I and my colleagues must have is often not understood by the very patients who seek our help. Sometimes when we work with a patient, we seem to be simply engaging in a conversation, sometimes we sit in silence; these are times when it is easy to see how someone new to therapy, (or, even an on-going client), may have no idea what the therapist is thinking, much less what has gone into putting that therapist in that position.
I don't mean to imply that I feel unappreciated. Not at all. I feel very valued by my patients. I have a unique relationship with each one. Trust has developed. They recognize the benefit of their therapy. Nonetheless, I find that the other part, the huge amount of work and determination that goes into becoming a therapist and maintaining that license is not always recognized.
We all know that we each have areas of more fragile self-esteem. But, after all my training and experience, I do have a sense of self value in my work. So, sometimes I have had the odd experience of being treated, by a patient, with less respect than I have for myself.
I have seen some therapists become irate at paraprofessionals and at practitioners whose title is "coach"(some certified, some not) because they see them wandering into counseling areas that really require the professional expertise of a licensed therapist. Not only do they feel that it is an incursion but they also worry about the welfare of the clients. However, despite some apparent lack of information on the part of consumers, most states do have a state board that licenses many professions and business people. Those boards are in place to protect people.
Part of the reason I wrote this post is because you, the readers, have indicated that you want to know about the behind-the-scenes aspect of a therapist's practice. I do have some readers who are studying to become therapists so they and, of course the other therapists who are also readers, know all about this. But those readers who are in therapy themselves or considering therapy or are just interested in this subject may not know.
Was this information you found interesting?