The power of personal therapy
Personal therapy is a requirement for most reputable counselling courses. Some are more intense than others, depending on orientation. However, the power and impact of personal therapy is often viewed as a ‘tick box’ exercise, a fulfilment of the needs of the course the counsellor is partaking in.
Personal therapy, when viewed through a much more therapeutic lens, helps the learner, clients, and other professionals in the field of counselling and psychotherapy, the opportunity to express their pain points, stressors, understanding of theory and so on.
While personal therapy is not a counselling relationship, it can certainly help clarify for students, critical elements of their learning, and help ease intense emotion, a factor most counselling courses tend to provoke and give much-needed direction to the embedding of the counselling profession.
Having experienced personal therapy, I can vouch for its effectiveness in helping me understand the hidden parts, and unknown areas, and examine closely my known areas, much like the Johari Window. The experience changed the way I viewed my learning and profession to a point that made me more confident, motivated, and more inclined to believe in the ‘authentic’ self most courses taught.
There seems to be a common misconception of personal therapy, mainly that of merely something to grab more money, time, and resources from us. In many cases this can be true, should the student counsellor not research, explore, and ensure that their choice of therapist is the right fit for them. This often leads to confusion and becomes the opposite of what personal therapy hopes to provide.
The personal development within the group setting is as Hazel Johns asserts a critical element of the development of the counsellor, however, some things, personal issues, pain points, and distress, are often suppressed in these settings should the environment and of course the group lack symbiosis.
Many counsellors offer students discounted rates for personal therapy, and researching, deciding what is best for you personally and most importantly, being able to feel open and honest with the therapist is extremely helpful.
Perhaps considering personal therapy as a critical tool in the development of the counsellor and using those experienced counsellors who can guide, inform, challenge, hold, and help the student incorporate this into their practice, is something that I would personally recommend.
There are many therapists you can contact informally to complete a mini-assessment to assess how you feel about them, if they can offer you what you need, and most importantly if they can help you manage the inevitable stress and concern many counselling courses seem to cause.
Please feel free to reach out and talk to someone who can meet your needs. Mandatory as personal therapy is, I believe that the mandatory nature of personal therapy is perhaps one of the most critical elements of learning.
Personal therapy does not have to be a burden, viewing it as an essential component of the emerging counsellor or client who may need support with life’s difficulties is something I would strongly recommend.