I’ll start by explaining the title!
This is a post to all my fellow (trainee) Psychotherapists out there.
2 weeks ago I had my first ever Preliminary. Basically the first meeting with a client to discuss timings and structure of sessions and sort of test the water and give you a chance to see if you will be well suited to work with the individual.
Why the title? Well, since coming out of the preliminary, the last 2 weeks I have plagued my mind full of doubt and insecurities. Feeling like a beginner, like an inexperienced ‘trainee’ that didn’t belong anywhere near the therapy room… Like a loser, like a fraud.. Like the patient deserves better!
Fair enough, the patient that presented turned out to be more complex than anticipated… But I still feel I would have had a similar response.
Whilst the sane side of me knows that I have indeed put in so much hard work, late nights, dedication…. Whilst having a substantial amounts of clinical experience.. The insane part of me has succeeded in installing this imposter feeling I have held on to for the past 2 weeks.
Some of the things I feel precipitated this feelings are as follows:
– Despite my hardworking nature, I have a deep desire to prove myself, not only to myself but to those around me and ultimately my parents who for whatever reasons made me believe that gay people are not normal and will not and cannot ever succeed… Etc… So there are the personal, deeply emotional reasons why.
– The patient in retrospect was masterfully evacuating all of her anxieties and fears on to me…. Already quite shocked at my own anxieties, somewhat unsuspecting… And the degree of the splitting, denial and evacuation was quite high.
… And the most vital of all…
– My supervisors (of which I have 3), a group, an individual and the supervisor at the placement, whilst trying their best to support and prepare me for the journey that lay ahead, utterly and completely confused me! By sitting me down and talking to me about what to do and not to do in a preliminary, by giving me their assessments of the file and what to expect they mixed my mind up! What happened is I had 3 professionals all telling me HOW THEY WOULD DO IT … Obviously leaving me with many more questions (which I didn’t much realise at the time).. But inside me I held 3 different perspectives while the 4th, my own fought for its own survival, almost not surving.. I came to realise that whilst all my support networks have been there and done that… They have the advantage of their years of experience and in their instructions not one person suggested I relax and find my own way, whilst giving me the basic dos and don’ts.
I don’t mean to berate the teaching skills but I more want to highlight to trainees like myself, that we ARE capable. You wouldn’t be sitting in a room in front of a real patient if you weren’t capable! There would have been a handful of professionals who would have already decided that you are capable… And just because it says Trainee in front of Psychotherapist we should not let that get in the way of our discoveries.
Yes, of course… We are young and have less skill. But we are who we are, ‘everyone has to start somewhere’ – we must have belief in ourselves, in our characters in our personal traits and start from the very beginning to build up and explore WHO WE ARE… And not being the maker/master of someone else life journeys! The therapy room is yours, and yours alone.
Today, I feel good. I feel capable and I feel I am ready.. Yes of course I am nervous but I’m feeling more motivated for my client and for what my developing mind can offer.
Yes, inexperienced, but passionate not stupid 🙂 there’s a difference.
Wishing all my fellow trainees the very best of luck and I urge you, BE YOU… As everyone will be better off for it.