Which Type of Therapist Are You?
Like all people, therapists come in lots of different flavors. As the facilitator of small clinical consultation groups, I have a bird’s eye view of a variety of personalities and work styles in our field. The beauty of our field is that this diversity allows us to grow and learn from each other which benefits not only the clinicians but also the clients.
Let’s look at a few examples of the types of clinicians out there:
Clinician 1: You have a big heart and sense of obligation in serving many clients to the best of your ability. Sometimes you take on too many clients for a sustainable case load. This may feel like it makes you a committed and caring clinician but it also can lead to burnout and it muddies the waters at times about who you bring into your practice and if/when/how you decide to refer out.
***If this is you, imagine, having an intimate, trusted group of colleagues who see you and help support you in making decisions about some of these blind spots. They are able to help you assess and address the need to refer out some potential clients or refer out current clients who need something different than what you offer. These colleagues value you as a clinician and understand that this is difficult for you and provide gentle support and helpful guidance in making these decisions.
Clinician 2: You have very clear perspectives about your scope of practice, which clients you see, your fee structure, how you get paid (private pay vs insurance vs a hybrid model). You have clear thoughts about decisions such as policies for no show/late cancellation fees but your views are shifting and you don’t know how to handle it. Your previous firmness with these things is causing issues that are becoming apparent to you. You have realized that this field is not one size fits all and that not all policies or practice structures work for your clients but you don’t quite know what to do about it.
***If this is you, imagine that you have regular consultation with clinicians you trust so you are able to talk these issues through knowing you will get a variety of supportive ideas and suggestions, as well as some insight about solutions you would not have thought to consider. They know you and your work and will give you space to figure this out.
Clinician 3: You have been doing this work a long time. You are very well regarded and effective in your clinical work. You even supervise pre-licensed clinicians with very good results. You feel confident in most of your clinical decisions. But every now and then you have a case that gives you pause. There’s a dynamic that is worrisome that you can’t quite conceptualize so you don’t reach out to a colleague because you are unclear about what you need or you worry it will impact the way others view you.
***If this is you, imagine leaving work with peace of mind, knowing that your clinical consultation group is meeting soon. You know they will help you process the case, offer supportive insights and differing perspectives. You love that you get to benefit from meeting with clinicians with a variety of skill sets and theoretical orientations. You trust them and know there will be no judgement about not having a specific question, or way to conceptualize the case, since we all face that at times.
Clinician 4: You are an experienced clinician and most days feel great about your work. But every now and then you experience imposter syndrome and feel embarrassed by it. You don’t have anyone you feel safe being vulnerable enough to sharing this with, or you worry colleagues will think less of you.
***If this is you, imagine knowing just who to process this with. Your small clinical consultation group whom you’ve grown to know and trust are able to validate this issue. They reassure you it has nothing to do with your skills. And because they know you, they are able to offer suggestions to help you feel more confident in your work.
Clinician 5: You are well-rounded, have built the perfect private practice for yourself and love doing this work. But as a solo or online therapist, you find yourself feeling lonely. You miss the camaraderie of having colleagues down the hall to chat with, get clinical advice or get support with cases where you are doing good work but the client’s circumstances are difficult and you worry that you should be doing more (even though logically you know you are doing a great job with a sucky situation).
***If this is you, imagine showing up to your consultation group and sharing about your case, the difficulties the client is struggling with, and your feelings that you want or need to be doing more. But your colleagues have all had similar cases and are able to offer empathy and to normalize the discomfort you are feeling. They are there to affirm you are doing good clinical work and remind you that aspects of our field, such as this, are difficult and take a toll on us.
That’s 5 different clinician profiles…not an exhaustive list by any means. Did you identify with one or more of these examples?
Do you feel stuck in needing support to address concerns like those examples but don’t know how to go about getting what you need?
If you are not getting clinical consultation on a regular basis or don’t have a trusted group of colleagues to consult with, commiserate with or just laugh with, you may want to consider how this type of support can help you level up as a clinician and help you love your work even more.