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A Message For Newer Therapists




Usually, I write blog posts that are aimed toward clients or potential clients on how therapy works or ways to help themselves. This one is more for my fellow therapists that are new to the field, still struggle with imposter syndrome, or clients that want an inside peek into the mind of a therapist.  Recently, I have been thinking about the adjustment period that most (if not all) new therapists go through. This is an important time to mention that I am definitely considered a new therapist myself still and I think I might have that mindset for a pretty long time.  


I graduated from William & Mary in 2021 and had my first therapy related job in 2020 while I was still pursuing my degree.  When I think back to that time in my life, I question how I was able to juggle my job while attending classes/internship in the middle of a global pandemic. It feels like a blur when I think about it. I remember having multiple conversations with members of my cohort about the transition between school or internship versus actually practicing as a therapist. Most of us were worried about theoretical orientation or overthinking what we say to clients after hearing for so long that therapy has to be done a certain way.  I think I still have nightmares about the way I’m supposed to frame questions as open-ended instead of closed-ended or hearing that I need to get comfortable with silence.  


When I started my journey as a therapist, I felt beyond terrified at the idea of being responsible for another person's healing journey.  It felt like a giant task that I was unprepared for despite countless hours of studying, training, and analyzing my own approach. What if I said the wrong thing or I was too relaxed in a session with a client? What if I was the type of therapist that people wrote horror stories about online? What if I spent years of my life pursuing a degree that I ended up not using? All of these questions and fears had me frequently doubting my ability to do this job.  


It can be a jarring experience to suddenly go from a graduate student or an intern to a practicing therapist responsible for a caseload. Over the last two years, but particularly during my time at Mindsight, I have learned a lot about myself as a therapist.  I had an idea of the type of therapist I wanted to be and I had dedicated myself to a specific theoretical orientation that I felt drawn to. I had to quickly adjust to the difference between being a student and being a therapist. With the help of fellow colleagues, my clinical supervisor, and management – I figured out that it was okay to change my mind. It was okay to prefer to work with one population over another.  It was okay to set boundaries with my schedule so that I wasn’t working 24/7.  It was okay to adjust my mindset in order to best serve my clients. 


Despite what we’re taught in graduate school, it isn’t a failure to ask a close-ended question. Most clients feel more comfortable with you in session if they see you as a human. Definitely keep your boundaries firm with clients in terms of being friends with them, but laughing at their jokes isn’t going to ruin your ability to be an effective provider. Not every session is going to feel like you’ve made progress on their goals – sometimes a client just needs to vent and to know that they’re being heard. Self-disclosure can be useful if used at the right moment. 


All of these things are messages I want to extend to my fellow therapists that are still figuring themselves out. It’s okay that you’re not the type of therapist you thought you would be in graduate school. If we all refused to change or grow, how could we expect our clients to?


Shelby Case is a clinician offering in-person sessions at our Louisville office or telehealth sessions! She strives to make long-lasting connections with her clients in order to facilitate positive change. As a well-known homebody, Shelby enjoys living a cozy life outside of her time working by focusing on hobbies, spending time with her spouse, getting overly invested in TV shows, or cuddling with one of her cats. 



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