I entered this profession a little later than is usual. Having worked previously in the corporate world, I commenced training in this field as I had a desire to work more deeply and closely to help people overcome embedded dysfunction.
At that point I understood somewhat the workings of counselling and coaching practitioners and their services. Many were using a framework in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).
I had wondered, during my early training, why statistics and research showed a constant increase in impoverished emotional and psychological mental health around the world, when the shorter interventions such as CBT were supposedly enabling change.
This situation was, and still is, escalating out of control.
During this journey I ‘bumped’ into psychotherapy proper, and knew relatively quickly this was the way forward.
And perhaps this is why you are reading this – to understand psychotherapy proper.
After my initial degree I went on to spend more than seven years gaining a qualification in psychotherapy.
When someone tells me psychotherapy is an ‘intervention’ I chuckle. That description is far from the reality of the depth involved.
Although I gained an international qualification and that piece of paper read, ‘Certified Transactional Analyst (Clinical)’, it was, in fact, only that. A piece of paper. Those years of study gave me much more.
The first thing I gained was a solid foundation of theory with which to understand clients. The next, and probably most important, was the requirement that I too must undertake my own psychotherapy.
This part of the training is probably the most crucial. As a result, a properly trained psychotherapist does not struggle with their own demons while working across from their clients – this struggle is an all too common problem amongst professionals in emotional and psychological health.
It is not enough (and sometimes contraindicated) to work with someone who has had the same life wounds. This is the single biggest factor in burnout in many psychological health professions.
The next gain was the understanding of proper clinical supervision.
This process is where I become aware of my own reactions to a client, in an attempt to better understand what is happening for that client.
This is the often-discounted practice and skill of working with the issues of transference, countertransference, and the unconscious.
The training has its roots in psychoanalysis and is steeped in research and developmental psychology, with a particular leaning towards the humanistic and phenomenological branch of analysis.