Will I be taken seriously by the person who I see for help?
Recently I read an article* about the need to bring more, younger therapists into the field of talking therapies, that is counselling and psychotherapies, with their allied practices.
I agree with what the writer has to say in this article, which presents the view that younger practitioners are sometimes regarded unfairly, that is, that they might not have enough life experience to be able to handle a client's issues. But they receive the same training as everybody else and it may also be accepted that a person in their twenties may have seen quite a lot of life already.
I support the idea of more therapists being in a younger age bracket, if only for the reasons of inclusivity and to carry on therapy into the future, as the writer says. Also, with new minds will come new ideas and techniques for how to deal with emotional and psychological issues.
Another side of this discussion is the perception of older practitioners and how they might appear to younger members of the public. It may be a misleading generalisation to claim that all of us older representatives of the therapeutic professions have "been there" and experienced all the trials and setbacks of life. It would be reasonable to think that a practitioner of more senior years would be familiar with, or informed in-depth, about a wide range of personally challenging issues.
An example of this type of issue is the 'quarter-life crisis' mentioned in the same article; I would contend that this is actually nothing new and that such a feeling, with or without that label, features often in people's lives. That does not mean that the issue doesn't need attention, however, and it may very often benefit from professional help. Such a personal crisis may be given an intensity of experience due to the present circumstances imposed on us by the pandemic.
Perhaps the main point here is that, from a client's position, whether the practitioner they might be looking to for help is in their twenties, sixties or somewhere in between, that person is trained to work in an entirely non-judgmental way and has the personal qualities to be empathic and compassionate with every client they work with. Once we are qualified it is expected of us to carry on learning, perhaps to specialise in an area or simply to learn enough about a client's specific issues to be able to help them in an informed and realistic way.
If you are reading this article and thinking about going to see a therapist or counsellor, I hope this assures you that you will not be judged in any way but be taken seriously as someone who needs help. And if you are looking at that practitioner and wondering if they might be too young or too old, remember that if you see them in Counselling Directory they will have completed years of training, and be ready to work within a sensitive, safe and confidential way.
*Article: 'Playing the numbers game' by Ali Xavier, in Therapy Today, July 2020, Vol 31, Issue 6.