In my last blog I expressed my disappointment that some student therapists are unable to see a need for personal therapy. Whilst browsing through the September Edition of the BACP Counselling & Psychotherapy Research (Vol. 10 No. 3) I came across the paper ‘Therapists’ experiences of personal therapy: A descriptive phenomenological study’ by Vicky Oteiza. In it participants noted therapy as ‘A difficult but helpful experience’. They also noted several enriching aspects including:
• to be more conscious, more aware of their personal issues
• to abandon the fantasy of considering themselves as the ‘healthy one’
• to admit they are ‘merely’ human too
• to respect an individual’s personal rhythm
• to let themselves be guided and accompanied
• to expect to be challenged
To which my reaction is ‘surprise surprise’, therapists are human after all and perhaps what is good for the goose is ………. !
Although the number of participants in the research was small it included a variety of theoretical approaches. Unsurprisingly they stated ‘that personal therapy might not be so important for other approaches such as Cognitive-Behavioural, where there is more focus on change of behaviour than on emotions or change of personality’.
I indicated in my previous blog that I value my own personal therapy and, needless to say, as one who offers online therapy as well as face to face I have experience of the latter. I was offered the opportunity to act as a client to a student on online work and I found it insightful and extremely valuable both as a client and therapist.
I don’t intend to include one of my poems in every blog – I would soon run out of material for one(!) – but this is one which is perhaps relevant to the current theme.
Mirror Image – Inner Mirage
I look at myself
But it is not as I am
Left is right and right is left
I see the outside
But not within
Inside are feelings thoughts and desires
Constructed and formulated over time
Moulded by parents, peers and friends
By people of influence and power
That’s what I am – the sum of conditioning
Now I’m unravelling it all
The good from the bad
The wise from the not so wise
So many mistakes
So much to forgive myself for
To understand
A never ending journey
What will I discover about myself next
At least I’m not an alien
Unless I haven’t got to that bit yet

Geoff Cox
May 2008