Sunday, 14 June 2015

Frontiers Summer 2015 issue has arrived!

Hi all

As some of you may know,  the second issue of Frontiers (an online magazine written by trainee psychotherapists (including little old me)) has just been published. Follow the link to have a read and I've also included below my book review piece on a must read for trainees and qualifieds "The Myth of the Untroubled Therapist Therapist" by Marie Adams.

Frontiers Summer 2015

Hope you enjoy! 

Take care

Suzie

Book review- The Myth of the Untroubled Therapist Therapist by Marie Adams

When my supervisor recommended this book, I was immediately struck by the title. In my short time as a trainee therapist, I have certainly experienced the projection of my clients that I must live a faultless and perfect existence in comparison to their own. Not only have such projections caused a power imbalance in the room but also I have at times internalised the message that “I’m a therapist, I can’t have problems of my own, and I must be sorted”.
So before even opening this book, I was certainly a reader with lots of vested interest in the subject.
untroubled therapist
Marie Adams, a tutor at Metonia College, has essentially conducted a research project into this topic and her book is the collection of her findings. Adams interviewed 40 therapists from across the globe and different disciplines about how they handled times of personal strife when it came to their work as therapists.

Her findings are divided into specific topics such as physical pain, depression and death in the family. For example Adam’s found that over half of the forty interviewees admitted suffering from depression since becoming therapists. I felt there could have been a whole other book on this specific topic alone (e.g. does being a therapist make us more susceptible to depression or vice versa)?
Adam’s found that most of the therapists continued to work with clients during their times of personal difficulties, some citing that their work helped as a good distraction. However upon reflection, some of the therapists did wonder how present they truly were in those sessions and some even received formal complaints or sudden client terminations during this time. This, for me, begs the question, are our clients’ inadvertently rescuing us when we use them to as a distraction? And are we really serving our client’s best interest by creating a temporary co- dependent relationship of sorts?
She also explores why we buy into the myth of the untroubled therapist, even though the term of the ‘wounded healer’ is regularly drilled into us during our training, through books etc. Adams research indicates that the fear of being vulnerable and feeling shame seem to be factors in us hiding our personal issues. The irony that these are two of the key qualities that can arise with our clients in our work with them is not lost on me. Adams explains that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and to acknowledge our issues, is the best way to adhere to the doctrine of ‘do no harm’ for our clients and that shame is one of the greatest barriers to self-exploration and creativity.
Adam’s differentiates between the reasons why we chose a career in psychotherapy and the catalyst, which prompted us to head in this direction. Adams believes that therapists are created through our early life experiences and that we unconsciously self-medicate by helping others with their issues. Although I find this a harsh reality, upon reflection, I can also personally relate to it. I agree with Adams that there often exists an underlying reason for our motives, which are at the core of our being and our history.
I found this book really illuminating and enjoyed Adam’s honest and engaging style. She does well to contain her research findings on such a massive and sensitive topic. I feel this whole area needs far greater discussion and hopefully Adam’s book will act as a good starting point. I will certainly be returning to this book during my training and subsequent career as I found it a great comfort that, in Adams words, “ we may be therapists, but we are also humans.