Therapy is not peanut butter

Jul 11, 2014 by

conference roomSomeone really startled me at last month’s licensing workshop.

They asked me a really (good) unexpected question.

They said:

“Everyone tells me that the Austin market is saturated with therapists.

So, why would someone bother pursuing their LPC or LMFT?

Do we really need more therapists in this town?”

I really had to stop and think about it.

Not because I wasn’t sure of my answer,

but that I wasn’t sure how best to explain why…

Therapy is not peanut butter

Here’s what I think.

Even though Austin—or wherever you practice—may be full of therapists, you are still needed.

There are two reasons I think this. The first one is a little bit selfish.

peanut butter1.) I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine doing another kind of work. I love this profession.

That’s nice, and maybe a personally compelling reason—but we need more than that. So how about this:

2.) Therapy is not peanut butter.

Therapy works through the relationship.

Techniques and theoretical orientation matter. Interventions matter.

But research shows that the one factor that matters most in therapy is the quality of the relationship between client and therapist.

So, you might snag a jar of store-brand peanut butter when you go to the grocery store.

It’s all the same stuff, right?

Maybe it works that way with peanut butter.

But it doesn’t work that way with therapy and therapists.

The most important ingredient in therapy

Therapists are not interchangeable.

There is so much amazing diversity and complexity in people and in this work we do!

We can appreciate the uniqueness of our clients. Let’s not forget that we are also unique.

puzzleYou may still be saying, “But why would they come to see me when there are a bazillion other therapists in this town?”

It’s true that other therapists may offer EMDR or DBT, just like you.

They may offer evening appointments, just like you, or have a nice office, just like you.

But they aren’t you.

Of course, all this being said, it’s still important to arm yourself with ideas and plans about how you can express this uniqueness to others.

(That’s one thing I love to help new therapists accomplish.)

Truthfully, many people don’t understand the importance of the relationship in therapy.

Lots of times, they see therapists as interchangeable.

Part of our job is to teach people about this amazing work—about how it works, why, & how key this relationship really is.

You can read more about my therapy isn’t peanut butter idea here.  It’s a post I wrote to explain this concept to clients on my private practice blog.  But it’s something that therapists need help with, too.

What’s already in your corner

Maybe you’re still figuring out what your theoretical orientation is.

Perhaps you’re not sure who you’re supposed to help yet.

Or maybe you are still getting used to being in the room with your clients.

These are all important pieces of your personal and professional development. And you have plenty of time to do all that growing.

Just remember you’ve got a pretty important, unique asset in your corner already: your own, unique self.

Need some help really getting you aren’t Jif or Peter Pan or Skippy?

I can help you with that.  Consider scheduling a consultation so we can work on it together.

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