Two years ago, I earned my master’s degree in psychology and I am finally allowed to pursue the profession of a psychotherapist. But what does it mean to work as an assistant psychologist? What do you learn in the psychotherapy training? How does all of this feel?
These questions have often occupied me and I am sure others have the same difficulties.
At the university you are thought a lot about people. Clinical lectures and seminars in particular deal with a wide variety of disorders, diagnostic instruments and different approaches of psychotherapy. And yet it is something completely different when you’re sitting in front of a client for the first time, conducting an initial consultation, a diagnosis or a psychotherapeutic intervention. “What am I doing here?”, “Am I doing this the right way?” and “Does my client notice that I am still completely inexperienced?”. Such questions came to my mind during my first therapy sessions in my time as an assistant psychologist. Yes, I felt thrown in at the deep end. But isn’t that the case with every career start after graduation? Maybe as a psychotherapist it’s different again because you work so closely with people and their wellbeing is at stake.
After a few months and a higher number of cases there was a certain “routine”. Through structures, more precise considerations on case conception and a larger repertoire of interventions, I was able to gain confidence day by day. Among other things, the psychotherapy training made a proper contribution to this. Exciting seminars ranging from depression to ego-state-therapy gave me inputs that I was often able to try out and implement directly in coming therapy sessions.
Almost every day you are confronted with difficult situations from the clients’ lives. I had to learn to distance myself from them and not take the stories home. It was just as important for me to learn that I could not “save” every client and take responsibility for their lives. These are processes that took time, where the therapeutic self-awareness and supervision were an important support and part of it. My best friend always had an open ear for me in the initial phase. I also managed – mainly through sports – to get a certain distance from work.
In addition to the fact that day-to-day work is not always easy, the profession as a psychotherapist also has some incredibly beautiful facets: situations in which you become aware that a good bond between the client and you as a therapist has developed, when clients regain more self-confidence and show a more functional approach to situations that were previously impossible, when personal goals of the clients are achieved or when a therapy can be completed in which the client reports a fulfilled life with an improved state of mind.
Even though the path is long and there are always difficult moments, I am very happy to be able to carry out the profession of psychotherapist.
Author: Silvio Deplazes