Psychologists Have Feelings Too
When we started doing this, we never imagined how much emotion could fit between four walls.
In university, we learned about evaluation, disorders, and techniques, but very little time was dedicated to learning about our own emotions in therapy and how to manage them. Although to be honest, there wouldn’t be enough time in the world to prepare us for the emotional whirlwind that was about to come at us.
Before we were psychologists, we were humans
We’re human, which is a great virtue, but it’s also the source of many of the difficulties we face. This humanness is what allows us to understand other people and put ourselves in their place, but it also sometimes decides to manifest in the form crying, without consulting us first.
In therapy, we set aside our own needs to give priority to those seeking our help. However, we don’t remain indifferent to the reality they face. Although it’s in a different way, we also get emotional when people share intimate words and experiences with us.
And sometimes, when we hear other people’s stories, we cry. Sometimes this happens in the office, in front of the patient, while other times we prefer to express it in private.
The patient is always divided into three parts
When the patient leaves through the door, their story and the weight they carry is divided into three: one part stays with the patient, one stays in the office, and the other stays with the therapist.
We psychologists take part of every patient’s life home with us. After the face-to-face encounter, we reflect on what they told us and how they made us feel. We try to distance ourselves, go through all the therapeutic possibilities and approaches we can think of, and think about that person and how we could best offer them the support they need.
We think about the case from a professional standpoint, but it also often affects our emotions and feelings. Some cases frustrate us, make us feel guilty, and make us angry thinking about the maybes and the what ifs.
The weight of a glass of water
They say that it isn’t weight that makes the body suffer, but the amount of time it must be carried. Like the glass of water metaphor, in which the weight of the glass isn’t what matters, but the time the person spends holding it in their hand.
If I hold the glass for one minute, it’s no problem. If I hold it for an hour, my arm will start to hurt. If I hold it for an entire day, my arm will fall asleep and go numb.
Sometimes psychologists hold glasses that aren’t theirs, but we take on that weight for a long time. We struggle to let it go and shake it off, and we often need help releasing the weight.
More is less
Sharing all this weight with other people lightens the load. Professionals also need to feel heard, talk about their concerns, and for once, we need to put our own needs first. Many psychologists have gone to other psychologists, both to get evaluated professionally and to share our emotions and worries.
They say that “sharing is living,” and when it comes to emotions, this is certainly true. Because psychologists are also people who cry and get emotional. We’re not indifferent to life, and just like everybody else, we deal with our own stories, as well as those of other people, in our own way.