Three Awarenesses Young Therapists Don’t Usually have

A response to a colleague’s plans to attend an organization of highly qualified and vetted therapists,American Academy of Psychotherapists, in which I was active years ago.

HI D,  Contact, support, stimulation & education w/ a network of excellent “lifestyle” therapists was especially important to me the first 25 or so years post-degree.  There were a few locally – Ken Lessler PhD, Marty Groder MD, Bob Phillips MD & Nickolas Stratas MD, but mostly I hadda’ travel to find ’em.  I’da counted Dave Hawkins MD in that lot, but at the time we were both training in Gestalt w/ Joan Fagan PhD & Irma Shepherd PhD in Atlanta.
   Like many [?most] new PhDs, I really thought I knew a lot/everything about people & doing therapy when I finished grad school — it didn’t take long in the everyday world of private practice to realize how little I knew, and how much I had to gather & learn.
The more I learned, the more I realized how much more there was to learn.  Young therapists fresh from the gauntlet of academia can’t know what they don’t know they don’t know.  Similarly, I started out as a child therapist & thought I knew just what parents should do.  When my own kids came along I rapidly learned how naive I’d been.  Back then, all the outstanding training I knew about was in adult therapy, so after 10 years of seeing mostly kids I started traveling the country absorbing good stuff from giants in our field.  Soon I was seeing mostly adults, & still do, tho I deeply enjoy the child or 2 I’m seeing.  I was also getting my own much-needed therapy from those folks at the same time.
Looking back, I’d like to’ve known and acknowledged  those 3 rather similar lacunae: every therapist’s strong need of extended personal therapy, and the differences between book learning & actually doing therapy or parenting.  I also couldn’t have imagined how much better a healer becomes as the decades of experience as a person and as a therapist accumulate.
Happy AAP! to you,  Warmly, bd


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