I study psychotherapy, as a trainee I see 3 clients within the practice of my course. I also have regular clinical supervisions where I reflect on my work and get support. Adding to this, I’m obligated to have my own weekly therapy sessions throughout the whole 3 years training, in total 120 hours. This all sounds very well-organised. And it is. But are these elements enough to become a good therapist? Of course not! It’s a good start.

I’m not interested in anything mediocre in this field. My aim is to become an exceptional therapist, counsellor, healer, as this role is an art rather than a science. I’m aware of the responsibility and the power that therapists hold in the room one to one with a client. Clients bring serious stuff: big traumas, emotional wounds, abuses, losses, betrayal experienced in their lives – mainly early lives.

It’s not a question of how many skills and techniques I learn or with what mark I’ll graduate. It’s predominantly the question:

Who am I as a person? What kind of human being I am and want to become?

The reason why I write this text is because I’ve seen from my personal experience many crappy therapists who shouldn’t be doing this role. And now from a perspective of a novice counsellor I’m even more aware and concerned of the quality that each old and new therapists can offer.

What I am questioning is how much work an individual has done on themselves before being ready to help others. I mean SELF-WORK: facing and dealing with the most painful and dark experiences from our past, healing, learning to set up healthy boundaries, managing well close relationships: especially with our parents, partners and children. Obviously, no one can be issue-free and cured 100%, not in this lifetime 😉 It’s rather about becoming extremely self-aware of all our resolved and unresolved wounds that we carry and never giving up personal development.Can someone be a good therapist if they have lots of pending issues in their own lives? I truly doubt, as we can’t give what we don’t have. What’s more, we will be transferring our stuff on our clients which can be detrimental for them.

Can someone be a good therapist if they are over-protective of their parents, by justifying mistakes and ‘hurtful legacies’ parents have done towards them in their childhood? (quote from the book Toxic Parents, Susan Forward). Did we allow ourselves to experience anger, hate, sadness, grief, injustice towards our parents without feeling guilty and jumping to forgive them straightaway? If not, we will be also protective of our clients’ parents. We will struggle to give clients space to heal from childhood wounds through experiencing all possible emotions towards their parents.

This is the fundamental homework for any healer, therapist: to honestly examine and question relationships with their parents from the past and now. And move towards establishing new healthier paradigm, which can mean different things for different people. This process is not about blaming anyone and staying in that state forever; I believe that every parent loves their child. It’s about recognising, acknowledging and owning how they impacted us when we were small and how they affect us now. Being a good therapist is closely related to parenting: you can’t raise healthy children if you haven’t deal with your own childhood – with all the happy and ugly stuff.

Can one be a good therapist if they are still involved in a family complex dynamics and dependent mentally, physically and psychologically from them? No. How they can help a client to build their self-esteem and self-respect if they are stuck in toxic relationships in their own lives?

Can someone become a good therapist if they are far from being good enough parents, repeating the same mistakes of their parents towards their own children? Ayyy, I will never rest on emphasising this. Is there even any value of helping millions of clients but not being able to nurture our own kids by creating the best possible conditions for them to thrive?

I noticed that amongst psychotherapists many were raised in a family to be rescuers and people-pleasers. It’s not surprising that giving became like a second identity: they feel valuable only when they can help. But again, how we can save others if we are not able to save ourselves first? This requires self-awareness and years of own therapy, digging to the roots of our family issues and becoming experts of understanding ourselves. This is a responsibility of every therapist and healer who wants to work ethically and understands the seriousness of impact they have on their clients – both positive and negative. As what kind of relationship we have with ourselves will reflect the relationship we create with our clients.

Ani - Liberal Rebel