There are so many potential career paths for someone to take, so why would you choose to become a therapist? It’s a hard job, and certainly one that will take some kind of emotional toll on anyone involved in it. There are easier ones jobs out there. Yet many people find that being a counselor or therapist is ideal for them; they are able to help people, and that’s the most important thing to them when it comes to choosing the right career.
Not only do some people love the idea of helping others, but they also enjoy the thought of being challenged every day. As a therapist, you will always come up against new problems and issues you had never considered before. On top of that, there are many different avenues to go down; you can specialize in children’s therapy, couples’ counseling, substance abuse counseling, grief counseling, and much more.
Yet although there are many things to recommend about being a therapist, it’s not something that everyone is going to be able to do. It takes a specific kind of person to do well in this career and to be as helpful as possible to their patients. If you are considering becoming a therapist, here are some of the signs that it would be a good idea for you.
You’re A Good Listener
Perhaps the most important trait that all therapists have to have is that they must be good listeners. It makes no difference what kind of therapist or counselor you might be; you are going to need to listen to your patients. This is why people go to a therapist; they want to talk about their problems and have someone listen to them. So you need to be able to do this, and show that you are paying attention to those who are talking to you.
Listening to your patients may sound like a simple thing to do, but it’s actually a complex and in-depth thing to do. Not only will you need to listen to the words, but you’ll have to discern what the body language means at the same time and come up with a way that you can help the patient.
When you are a good listener, you won’t just hear the story of whatever it is the patient wants to tell you. You’ll also manage to encourage them to open up to you, telling you more than they might have even thought they knew themselves. Going to a therapist is potentially something that someone might find hard to do, and if they can feel sure that you’re listening and that you care, they will talk more, they will go into more detail, and ultimately this will help them and you.
If you’ve been told you’re a good listener or people naturally open up to you, then becoming a therapist might be the ideal career choice for you. There are many ways you can start the journey to becoming a counselor and helping people. One option is to take a human services degree which will open up a lot of doors and enable you to choose the type of therapist you want to be. Once you know this is what you want to do, it’s time to start researching your options.
You Truly Care
To be a good therapist and actually help people, you are going to need to truly care about them. If you sit in front of them either physically or virtually (therapy can be done online these days, opening it up to many more people) and the patient gets the sense that you are just going through the motions and what they are saying makes no difference to you at all, then you’re not going to be able to help them. In fact, once a patient sees what’s happening, they might even become more unwell. At the very least, they won’t be able to trust you as their therapist anymore.
It’s important to remember that every patient talking to you about their problems as an individual. Even if you’ve heard a similar story before, the patient won’t have; this is their story, and it’s happening to them, so it won’t matter if you’ve heard it before – they need you to listen and understand right now. This is not something that everyone is going to be able to do well, but as a good therapist, you must take each person as an individual and listen to them as though you’ve never heard anyone else’s stories. In this way, you can show you truly care. Plus, it means you’ll come up with a solution that relates directly to the patient and not some generic plan that isn’t going to work as well as something more specific would.
If you want to be a therapist, you need to be empathetic and caring. You must want to do good. Perhaps you donate to charity in your spare time or you’re a volunteer. Maybe you give blood or you pick up litter. In other words, you care a lot not just about people but about the world in general. This trait will help you become a wonderful therapist and create meaningful connections in your work that help people.
You Can Keep A Secret
People sometimes feel the need to talk about things that they would never normally talk about. This is why therapists exist; they give people the opportunity to talk about what is troubling them, air their grievances, discuss their feelings, and so on. They know they can do this safely because their therapist will never give away their secrets. They can talk openly and freely, finally letting go of the trauma or guilt or grief that has been plaguing them. Keeping emotions and problems inside for a long time will lead to stress, depression, and other conditions, including physical ones. Seeing a therapist means that you can let these feelings out and start to heal.
As a therapist, you need to consider the opposite to be true for yourself. You’ll hear a lot of things, good and bad, but you need to keep them to yourself; you cannot tell anyone what you hear, not even your spouse or partner. If you did, you would be betraying your patients, and not only would you not get any more work, but you might even be fined. You’ll also have to live with the fact that you didn’t help anyone, and actually did the opposite.
If keeping someone’s secrets is something you think you would find difficult then there are many other ways you can help people through your career, but being a therapist may not be for you. Your patients need to trust you, and you need to help them, and keeping their information to yourself is part of that.
Perhaps it would surprise you to find that many therapists have therapists of their own. After all, taking in all these stories and having to deal with them by yourself is exactly what you’re telling your patients not to do. Therefore, seeing a therapist can be a great way to deal with everything, help people more, and help yourself. Of course, you won’t go into detail with your therapist, as you still can’t give away secrets, but you can speak in general terms, and they will be able to help so you can help others.
You Can Handle Rejection
Some people stick with one therapist for as long as they live. They like the continuity of care this gives them, and they feel comfortable with that specific therapist. However, this is not always the case, and a lot of people will switch therapists over time. There are all kinds of reasons for this, including discovering that the therapist is not such a great fit or that they need something more specific in terms of help. They might just want to take a break and try someone new.
As a therapist, you need to be able to deal with this kind of rejection. Remember, you will be a big part of someone’s life, listening to their innermost problems and desires. It can feel like a real strain, even hurtful, when they decide they no longer want to share things with you, and would rather talk to someone else.
As a therapist, you must not take this personally. Everyone is free to make their own choices, and when it comes to counseling, it’s crucial to find the right person to help you. It might be that a patient know you’re not the right fit after just one session, but it could take longer. No matter what, you need to remain professional and caring at all times. If you can handle this and you know that it’s the best thing for the patient, you could be an excellent therapist.
You’re Not Afraid Of Tough Love
A lot of those who need to talk to a therapist will want someone who is kind and caring and who can listen carefully to every word they say and provide a great level of comfort afterward. Of course, there is an element of truth to this; this is what therapists do, at least in part. However, if you are really going to help someone, you’ll also need to be able to practice tough love when necessary. This can take some time to get used to, as it’s perhaps not something you envisaged having to do, but it’s an important part of helping someone. Just listening and agreeing is not going to push them forward or help them make good choices in life. It will simply allow them to enjoy the status quo.
As a therapist, you need to be there as a supporter of your patients but you also need to challenge them and help them become more than they currently are. This might mean posing some difficult questions or pushing them to do something that takes them outside their comfort zone. Could you do this? If so, you could be just the kind of therapist that so many people need, even if they don’t realize it yet.