In a perfect world, every single person would have a therapist. Whether or not they are mentally ill, it's important to always have someone to talk things through with- that's what mental health professionals are for. But what some clients don't realize is that sometimes, the clients help the therapist just as much as the therapist helps them.
u/TheFoodTray asked: Therapists of reddit, what's something that a client has taught YOU (unknowingly) that you still treasure?
Therapists need help too.
In general - that humans can experience an incredible amount of trauma, loss, overall suffering and not only continue to exist, but continue to find meaning and even contentment in their lives.
It's helped me to re-frame my own trauma in a more helpful way and also made me less fearful of what my future may hold - recognizing that we can tolerate much, much more than we think we can.
Sometimes it's the people who have endured trauma that have an easier time letting things roll or looking at life's speed bumps and saying "That happened. How do I handle it?"
Once you've hit a hard bottom, any hardship that isn't that bad doesn't stress you as much. It also gives you more empathy and compassion for people in a hard spot.
When my mother was at her Cluster B best, my friends were impressively self-absorbed and actively did not care. People who had endured worse were so much kinder than people who hadn't.
A thirst for knowledge.Giphy
I work with college students (freshman all the way through final years of PhD programs, med school, etc.) I'm amazed by their constant desire for knowledge.
18yo and 40yo, it doesn't matter. There is an information lust in all of them. It makes me more passionate about my field and I go to trainings and conferences thrilled to learn thanks to them. It's incredible. The difference in my mental state from working outpatient to working exclusively with the student population is amazing. They've saved my career.
This is incredible advice.
Just today someone said to me, "I tell myself all the time 'if I can stay sober for the next 30 minutes I'm going to make it'. Sometimes I have to tell myself that more than once, but I make it every time".
It really got to me today, that little saying has so much meaning behind it for so many things. It put in perspective for me that dealing with certain issues is a minute by minute thing, but I can make it no matter what.
So many things it isn't even funny. I get to learn about professions and hobbies that I have zero knowledge about or desire to do, but I like knowing.
Beyond being taught something, two things have that clients have told me have made me feel so good and have stayed with me.
So, I use acceptance and commitment therapy as my approach. It is an approach that I use in my life so I will use examples of how I use it to help guide clients. I was giving an example of getting caught up in thoughts while on a walk on the weekend. Specifically thoughts about how this very client was doing because she and I had practiced a very difficult script for her to set some boundaries. I was getting swept away and wasn't present on my walk, so I dropped anchor and got in the present.
That client said that knowing that I think about her and her wellbeing outside of session made her feel so special and cared for. I took it for granted that clients knew we think about them. Half of my case planning comes from walking thoughts or driving thoughts. It changed how I practice. I make sure to share, in appropriate ways, how often I do think about my client's wellbeing outside of session.
Another was about 6 years ago. I was sick with my autoimmune disorder, about 100lbs overweight, medications weren't working, I was the only therapist for my work site as they couldn't fill positions. I burned out. Ended up on stress leave for 6 weeks. I returned to work kinda questioning how can I be a good therapist if I burned out. I returned to a hand written letter from a client from the year previous. She wrote a thank you letter that told me how she had continued to use the skills we worked on, how she had changed her life, and the impact I made in her. Literally, this woman's letter saved my career.
I truly love my work and I keep way better work-life balance now that I am more adept a living with a chronic illness! Also, I am 95lbs lighter now too. I got healthy.
Something everyone needs to know.Giphy
How to let go, over and over again, of people I care about. So many years of intensely relating, and giving, and letting go. I treasure the gift of being in the place to learn that lesson. It has helped me be a better friend and family member to not hold on so tight.
How a good relationship should be.
When talking about two people being in a relationship, a child I was working with described it as 1+1=2. Changed the perspective of "my other half" or looking at two people in a relationship as whole.
I know use two distinct wholes (1 person), who choose to come together as two.
To add to this, just this week in my session my counselor used the analogy of a 3 legged stool for a relationship and similarly I said that I always have seen a relationship as 3 people. There is me, you, and us. Each of the 3 need to be cared for to function.
Important to remember.
I'm a therapist in a psychiatric hospital and my patients have taught me how thin the line is between being mentally healthy and ill. Many of my patients were healthy and high functioning until one event happened to them.
That could be anyone. We are all just one incident away from being permanently ill. I am grateful and humbled by the tenacity of my patients, and for each day I am healthy.
Something I inadvertently taught my therapist is when I'm really struggling to start my day, I divide it up into "quest objectives" ala video games. ie "Shower, Breakfast and dress" "Get to work on time" "Complete at least three briefs today" and so on and so forth.
It really helps me set short term goals for getting through the day. She told me she has subsequently used this method with other clients and it's worked well.
I'm a therapist for children with autism. These kids go to school and then therapy 5 days a week. Adding up to 10 hours a day, more than some working adults. Most of the kids at least. They work hard to increase their skill sets. I have struggled with severe anxiety and still struggle with it sometimes.
While I'm teaching them life skills, they teach me perseverance through tough days and to smile and keep going even through the mistakes. These kids never fail to amaze me and I'm so proud to say I work with them.
I was the patient but during an early session I mentioned the Chaplin quote "A day without laughter is a day wasted." And my therapist had never heard that before and said they were going to use that. I saw it as a quote hanging on their wall soon thereafter.