Sometimes I just don’t want to be a Fucking Therapist (This is how I Power Through)

Jeff Guenther on Oct 27, 2019

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing I’d rather do than be a therapist. I love it. It suits me perfectly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my favorite perks are the loungey clothes and the comfy chairs. But every so often, while I’m sunk into my chair and swaddled by my chunky cardigan, I think to myself, “I really don’t want to do this right now.”

This blog is about the times I really don’t want to be a therapist and the things I do to power through it. I just so happened to talk to fellow therapist and friend Julie Jeske, LPC, about this very topic on this week’s episode of Say More About That. We also chat about how abnormal it may be to work as a therapist, if we feel turned off by relationships due to being couples counselors and so much more. Click play below or check it out on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

These are the times I don’t feel like being a therapist

I’m just not in the mood

Sometimes, I’m just not in the mood. And I get that everybody has to go to work even if they’re in a bad mood. I have never not gone to work because I’m grumpy. But sometimes, when I’m not feeling good, I really don’t want to try and make other people feel good. I strongly believe that if I’m in a shitty mood then everyone deserves to be in a shitty mood. It’s only fair if you ask me!

How I cope:

  • Allow myself to feel bad for the day. If it turns me into a snarky therapist, then so be it. My clients probably deserve it.
  • Connect with the vulnerability of the client and feel really honored that they are being so honest and raw. That can cheer me up and fill me with gratitude.
  • Tell myself that I can escape into the world of my clients and I don’t have to think about my own dumb life.
I have a bad headache

I get headaches a lot. I have always gotten headaches. They aren’t migraines. Thank God! But my head hurst about 3 days out of the week. When I have a headache, I don’t want to talk to people. I want to lay on the couch and watch TV. I want to be quiet and just zone out. The last thing I want to do is think hard with my clients.

How I cope:

  • Take Advil. It can’t be that store brand Ibuprofen crap. It’s gotta be the expensive good stuff!
  • If it’s a bad headache, I’ll tell me clients about it to let them know I might be a little off my game.
  • If I concentrate hard enough on what the client is saying then I can momentarily forget I have a headache. This takes a lot of practice.
  • Sometimes, I can visualize the pain in my head receding away and that does a little something.
  • Turn the lights down in my office and let my clients know I’m not trying to create a romantic vibe or anything.
I feel really bored

While I don’t currently have any clients that bore me to death, I have had some in the past and I’m sure I will in the future. It’s so hard when I feel bored in session. I feel guilty about it. It’s hard to follow stories. It’s really difficult to connect with the client. And the hour just draaaaaaags. Also, when I’m bored I feel the need to yawn and it’s really annoying having to suppress those yawns.

How I cope:

  • I try to talk more so that it wakes me up a bit.
  • I try to get the client to be more vulnerable. Vulnerability is always interesting to me.
  • I don’t look at the clock every two minutes.
  • I grab some coffee before the session.
I feel like I have nothing to offer

While feeling like I have nothing to offer the client is rare, I do feel it every now and then. And when I feel like I can’t help the client, I really don’t want to be a therapist for them. I feel useless. I feel like a fraud. I feel like I’m wasting their money. There are plenty of reasons I may feel this way. Maybe I don’t feel like I’m a good fit, maybe we’ve processed all the big stuff or maybe I’m just feeling blocked.

How I cope:

  • I ask my client if I’m being helpful and if there is anything they want from me that I’m not giving them.
  • I’m honest and tell them that I don’t think I’m the best fit and I know other therapists that might be better.
  • I talk to my supervisor about my resistance.
  • I give myself a pep talk and remind myself that I’m a pretty rad therapist that has a lot to offer and there’s no reason I should feel like I can’t be of assistance to a client.
I’m burnt out/exhausted/have compassion fatigue

While I don’t often feel burnt out or suffer from compassion fatigue, there can be times every now and then where I just feel too exhausted. When this happens, I start to zone out during sessions, feel depleted and lazy, and lose the zest for life that I experience most days. It’s not good for my clients and it makes me fantasize about quitting the field.

How I cope:

  • Go on vacation. Or go on a short trip just by myself so I don’t feel pressure to connect.
  • Exercise more.
  • Hang with therapist friends and ask them to remind me why I’m doing this.
  • Watch my favorite therapist show In Treatment on HBO. For some reason that really fires me up to be a therapist.
  • Put more energy into other projects I’m working on.

While you’re here…

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Jeff Guenther, LPC, is a therapist in Portland, OR. He has been in private practice since 2005. Jeff is the creator and owner of Portland Therapy Center, a highly ranked therapist directory. Jeff, and his team, have launched a new progressive therapist directory, TherapyDen.

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