My son wants to start therapy but insists that he wants to see a well-trained professional who has undergone his/her own therapy. Aren’t all therapists required to do this?
No, most therapists are not required to undergo their own therapy. Only a few clinical programs have this requirement. Personal therapy is also required for those studying to be psychoanalysts. (Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy initiated by Dr. Sigmund Freud that emphasizes the influence of the unconscious mind.) It sounds to me that your son not only wants to have a therapist who has been through his/her own therapy (a plus), but also one who is knowledgeable, empathetic, caring and can be genuinely engaged in the therapeutic relationship. Such a relationship develops when a therapist actively listens and understands you and the issues you’re dealing with. With this understanding, the therapist can provide valuable insights, pertinent feedback, useful skills, support and encouragement. In choosing a therapist, it helps to focus both on the personality of the therapist and the model of therapy that appeals to your son. A few of the most effective psychotherapeutic models are…
- Cognitive therapy (also called cognitive behavioral therapy), which focuses on altering irrational beliefs and erroneous or distorted thinking.
- Behavior modification therapy, which centers on changing maladaptive behaviors.
- Dialectical behavior therapy, which is a type of skills training therapy that focuses on high-risk, tough-to-treat patients.
- Gestalt therapy, which focuses on acknowledging and accepting all parts of oneself in order to live life as a creative and integrated “whole” person.
- Psychodynamic therapy, which highlights the influence of relationships, emotions, childhood experiences and inner conflict.
- Systems therapy, which centers on the influence of the system in which you live and work. People generally thrive in the right environment and pale in the wrong one.
- Have years of clinical experience in your son’s issues.
- Understand and respect your son’s experience.
- Have good judgment, acumen and smarts.
- Offer invaluable interpretations, insights and ingenuity.