Oh My God, I'm a Therapist!
Updated: Feb 8, 2022
A picture of me, an actual therapist.
I have been a licensed mental health counselor for sixteen years. It still at times, shocks me that I am a therapist. I think if I were to address a group of therapists, I would get a lot of head nods about how awkward it can be to live your day-to-day life as a therapist. People at parties verbalize fear that we might be analyzing them (relax Martha, I am just here for the snacks). Dating is confusing in that you never know how a potential date will react to your credentials, or worse see it as a free therapy hour. My natural inclination when I see people that I know at the grocery store is to smile and say hello- but if it is my client, I must fight that off my tendency behind the almond milk in my grocery cart. Movies and television always portray us as sleeping with our patient or being unethical in other capacities. When really I just want to recommend the latest book I read to all my clients.
There are times when it feels a lot like being a secret agent- people share with me their deepest longings and sufferings, and I am so moved and honored, and then I am supposed to pretend that this is not what I am crying (because I am moved, and it touched on some part of my own longing and suffering) about while I order my vanilla latte on my break. There is not a TED talk in the world that can touch the sacredness of the work I do. And it is not just because I am skilled at what I do, it is because people trust me with this intense, important, and magical part of themselves.
Then there is self-disclosure. Do I? Don’t I? My professor said not to. As a professor, I told my students not to. But do I?
When it comes to therapy, the client’s values always come first. However, research shows that especially when it comes to spirituality, clients prefer to work with someone with similar values. I was told explicitly to never share that I am a non-conventional spiritualist. I came from a conventional religion, so I said OKAY to this initially. But it seemed to just keep slipping out. Like, how DO I know so much about astrology? And shamanism, or the tarot? Why do I recommend energy clearing, or crystals?
I suppose I could have titled this “Oh my Goddess, I’m a therapist,” but my early eighties upbringing just could not resist a pithy, now old fashioned, valley girl OMG.
Oh my God, I AM a therapist. And I am here to share with you all the things that go into and around this therapy life that might help the therapy curious, or the spiritually purposed, grow a little more into understanding who they are, and who they want to become.
I wish you peace and loving kindness!
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Thank you for reading, and warm wishes to you and yours!