It’s less about what you say and more about what people feel when they are with you.
Go into waters that may be scary. I’m not suggesting you operate out of your scope of practice. For example, you don’t want to try EMDR when you’re not certified and comfortable with a treatment approach. However, you can get into the Seeking Safety curriculum and modify it to something you can teach and discuss as an alternative. There's more than one way to approach something or a problem. It’s important that you don’t create more damage to a person – go with your intuition and gut and know your limits. However, pushing yourself and trying new things is what learning and growing means. You’ll fail, you’ll succeed, you’ll walk away feeling like you learned something new regardless. Hopefully your clients will see this in you as well. You want them to be brave, right? You've got to be brave yourself.
I remember being thrown into a DBT group and imploding in my head when the therapist wanted me to teach a chapter to the clients. I had to memorize the material - every little bit of it when getting 50% of it would have been more than what my clients came in with. I put more pressure on myself than what my clients were expecting out of me. Our clients don’t expect us to be perfect and are generally more accepting of our mistakes than we are. It’s also empowering to acknowledge the mistake, name it, ask for forgiveness. They will likely forgive you because they ultimately know you're doing your best and trying to help them. There is grace on both sides but carefully analyze if you’re doing harm.
Whatever you’re trying for the first time will be uncomfortable. Any new skill or strategy is going to feel awkward and this is what we are most often asking our clients to do. Throwing yourself in and moving forward while holding your head high and laughing when you make a wrong move is ok. You’ll make wrong moves. You’ll apologize to your clients when necessary and this will be healing and modeling to them about what being a human being really means. We don’t know all of the answers, we know how to “be” and “think” about oppression and that’s a great starting place.
Find things that interest you. Be curious. Ask other therapists what they have found helpful. You may not feel like you have the time with the stress of work and you’ll also probably think you’re tired after work and can’t take anymore “psychology stuff”. I promise it will be worth it and energizes you, even if you read 10 pages before bed.
My list of most helpful books:
- Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman, M.D. is a wonderful read for those really wanted to get an overview of trauma.
- Motivational Interviewing by Miller and Rollnick
- Becoming Solution-Focused in Brief Therapy by Walter and Peller is one of the first books I read that gave me a handle on what I was doing and why. Learning exception questions and capitalizing on what is going well can be a great avenue for motivation
- The Power of Losing Control – Joe Caruso
- Drinking: A Love Affair - Caroline Knapp
- On Grief and Grieving…. Good stuff. Anything by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross will help you understand complex grief and more than just the stages of death and dying themselves
- Read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease by Robert C. Scaer
- Healing the Shame that Binds You - John Bradshaw
Be you. You're good enough, you're talented and you have the right spirit. For those I supervise, you have it in you and your compass is strong.