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Vulnerability Check

“Just be yourself, Shane. That’s what people need, and it’s what you’re best at. Stop trying so hard!” – paraphrased from a wise human

Vulnerable honesty moment: it’s incredibly easy to get off track as a therapist. Mental health treatment is a multi-million dollar industry, and consumers/customers are not just those who are seeking services – a lot of money is to be made off practitioners as well. The same tactics used to drive you to the latest solution to your problem is used on us too – capitalizing on our feelings of inadequacy, creating urgency and need, presenting a solution that is ‘better than’ all the other options, dismissing or minimizing competing products or ideas, and using negative reinforcement to drive sales.

What that looks like for me is a social media feed bursting with ads for a seemingly endless number of courses, workshops, books, coaches and trainings; the message ranges from a mild statement that my work is probably not good enough without this (insert product) to outright panic and disaster messaging that I am definitely fucking up daily because I’m not doing (method/modality) or using (tool). (And oh yeah, your marketing sucks too and you’re not reaching people… but I have a solution!).

It’s no wonder that I get overwhelmed and retreat from the barrage of ‘not good enough’ and start to doubt my value as a human and as a therapist. What has had a major impact on me in the last little while has been the question ‘Who are you, as a therapist, without social media?’

Deep breath. Answering that is scary and vulnerable because of the voice that tells me what I’m not. You know what else it says? Who cares. It doesn’t matter. Nobody wants a therapist who talks about themselves. You are not doing this right and no one’s gonna want to work with you. Breathe in. (Hello, critic, my old friend. I see you there, trying to protect me from making mistakes, trying to protect me from the pain of rejection too. I get that, and, it is okay to take risks.)

So, here’s my track, the one I don’t want to get off: I am here because you are too; I have no answers, only questions and a commitment to supporting you in whatever way you need; I have a ‘big picture’ view of human systems (both internal, familial, communal and institutional) and believe your experience is incredibly unique; transparency, relationship, and collaboration are my core values; and, although it is just you and I in the therapy room, I know we are bringing the world into our sessions, and changing our world by working together.

There is always more to learn, new ways of thinking, being and doing, and academic knowledge offers one pathway to transformation, but there are so many more! Ignore the packaging for a minute and what is therapy about? Not being alone, opening up, compassionate witnessing, accompaniment on the healing journey, and being yourself. The story is never finished, and there’s time+space to explore.

Ok, bye! *hides from internet for a while to recover from vulnerability hangover*

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