I’ve always been a firm believer that a person should do what they love.
I say that with full recognition that sometimes it’s not possible to do what you love. Sometimes there aren’t the resources, the time, the support, or the money for a person to get to where they want to be. Sometimes it takes a great amount of effort to even figure out what it is that you love and then you find out that it really isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
It took a very long time for me to get to where I am as a therapist. I think back to my earliest days of “training” and realize that it was in those moments when my friends would call me in the middle of the night with a crisis. I hated hearing a friend in pain, but I loved being the person they depended on in those vulnerable moments.
I think back to my own personal struggles with mental health issues in my family (and I’m not naming any names here to protect their confidentiality and not out of a desire to stigmatize mental health any further). I think about some of the rough times I had of my own as a young person (and especially as a teenager).
I think about all of the help I’ve had along the way from my loved ones (family and friends - who are my “chosen” family members), from teachers, colleagues, and from clinically trained professionals. I consider myself a therapy success story because I know that I benefited from the treatment I received and these experiences helped shape the therapist I would become.
I remember the early days of my volunteer work as a rape crisis counselor and advocate for survivors of domestic violence. That work was deeply challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. I often thought to myself that if I could work with people who have suffered such trauma, then I should make it my mission. I know that those hard topics are not for everyone.
There were times during the course of my incredibly long academic “career” (16 years of collecting degrees) that I felt terrified about the future. What if, after I’ve finished all of this training, I found out that I’m not good at what I do? What if I invest all of this time and accrue all of this student loan debt only to discover that I don’t even like being a therapist?
Those fears were immediately squashed after the very first time I met with a client in my clinical practicum training. At that point I was more afraid of learning the logistics of navigating through paperwork than I was with how to engage with clients. (It’s funny how a person can discover what a rule-following ethical stickler they are when suddenly they find themselves in charge of another human being’s confidential file…)
It feels natural and right for me to be in the position of a caring, accepting, and compassionate provider. I love what I do so much and I feel energized by working with clients. It pains me to see people suffer, but I am not afraid of emotion and I am not afraid to take risks or face challenges. The reward of witnessing a person accomplish their goals and make progress in their lives is what I think of as the ultimate job satisfaction.
Every time someone asks me why I went into this profession, I have a different answer. That’s because I continue to fall in love deeper with what I do and feel that my work is important. I find inspiration in my clients every day and feel so grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I love.