Guidelines for Psychologists Undergoing Therapy

Psychologists undergoing therapy require certain guidelines, as they're people after all. They must also review and, sometimes, heal the wounds derived from their profession, which are sometimes due to the absence of limits in and out of therapy.
Guidelines for Psychologists Undergoing Therapy

Last update: 07 July, 2021

Many psychologists are undergoing therapy. In fact, this kind of treatment is most recommended within this profession, as those who help others need help too.

Therapy has enormous value because another professional can give you tools you don’t know how to use or don’t have access to at the moment. Obviously, this article isn’t going to give you a personalized treatment. It only suggests that psychologists do seek therapy, as it’s a way for them to express some of the issues discussed here.

The goal is to make it clear that these professionals also need therapy for things that happen both inside and outside their office. Below, you’ll find some basic questions a psychologist should neither allow from a patient nor a stranger regarding their roles as such.

“The role of the therapist is to reflect the being/accepting self that was never allowed to be in the borderline.”

-Michael Adzema-

Two women talking.

Psychologists should never be judged for what they do in their personal lives

One of the heaviest burdens a psychology professional must bear is to hear evaluations about their behavior people wouldn’t make about anyone else. This is because the psychologist is a professional who provides therapy. However, they aren’t a standard of good behavior either outside or inside their office.

There are three simple reasons for this:

  • A psychologist works in the consulting room only. For instance, a computer scientist doesn’t go around fixing computers during their free time. Thus, the psychologist also abandons their role as such as soon as they leave the office. This is the basic thing to understand. However, people often ask psychologists for advice. Yes, they can easily do it for free but it isn’t their duty to do so.
  • This professional has a private life and isn’t a model of proper behavior. People’s assessments of how others should behave are subjective. Therefore, their assessments of how a psychologist should behave outside of therapy are as well. The goal of therapy is for people to live their lives as they wish. As you can imagine, there’s no one way for either patients or psychologists to do so.
  • A psychologist isn’t necessarily better off mentally than others, just as a doctor isn’t immortal just for being a doctor. Psychologists experience the world just like the rest of people. They do have a scientific background in behavior analysis. Furthermore, they can assess, quantify, and predict behaviors in patients and do so with the right data, not assumptions.
  • Lastly, a psychologist isn’t more intense or emotional simply for being so. Neither are they continually analyzing people. They can make an informed comment if someone asks.

Although all of these points seem obvious, this kind of professional must consider setting boundaries outside of therapy. Indeed, it can be exhausting in certain settings. However, it’s best to be assertive and make the population aware that they must respect the off time of health workers.

What you shouldn’t allow in the consultation room

Therapy for psychologists doesn’t happen in relation to things that happen to them outside and inside the consulting room. The therapeutic bond with a patient is fundamental for them. The relationship between a therapist and their patients can be as transformative as the best psychological technique is a well-known fact.

For this reason, a therapist must take care of the relationship with their patients and know just how to redefine and confront certain comments and attitudes. With this in mind, therapy and patient improvement can never arise from questioning or attacking a therapist.

There are certain things psychologists undergoing therapy should never allow:

  • A patient who tries to run the therapy and overrides the therapist, pointing out tests and techniques they need because they read it somewhere. A given patient should know the therapy they’re to receive and only request what they think they might need. It may be that both views of how to approach therapy coincide. However, only the therapist should set up tests, sessions, or techniques.
  • The patient shouldn’t question a therapist’s private life at any time. It may be that the patient knows something about their personal life and believe they have the right to use it in therapy if it makes them feel defensive. For example, the psychologist’s marital status has absolutely no relevance in a couple’s therapy. Crossing this line is a red flag and the psychologist should consider whether it’s negatively impacting the therapeutic relationship.
  • Some psychologists empathize too much with a given patient and expose their experiences in therapy as a mirror of what’s happening to this patient. Thus, they must do it through metaphors or exercises and contain any personal revelations during the course of therapy. The professional must set this limit and reveal things only when they’re truly useful for the process.
  • The professional relationship must be framed and marked. The psychologist must be a guide for the patient, not a friend. They should explain the dynamics of their relationship to a patient who calls or sends messages outside of therapy as many times as they have to. Yes, some therapies require follow-up calls and messages. They shouldn’t reinforce a therapist’s dependency behavior. This is because they should only reinforce therapy and long-term goals.

Conclusion

As you can see, being a psychologist is complex both in and out of the consulting room. Thus, psychologists undergoing therapy must know that boundaries are necessary, not only in their jobs but in any other social situation. Therapy for psychologists must be fully implemented in this profession to keep them from losing themselves in the process.

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