I was working today on preparing for my therapist training group that I run. And as I was reviewing my framework for training a therapist, I was marveling at how similar this is for my work with clients.
You see, in stage one of working with a therapist, I need to be aware that the therapist is very vulnerable to shame. There’s a real power differential in the relationship, and my therapist in training starts out scared at some level he or she will be found out to be “wrong.” So it’s very important in starting training that I do a lot of confidence building
As the training progresses, and moves to what I call stage two, the shift moves toward a more in-depth work. I usually now have a clear understanding of the things that they don’t know that would be helpful for them to know. I support them in the learning process, helping them acquire the knowledge they don’t yet have.
As we move into stage three of the training, the therapist in training is now in a position where they can put their own language into what’s happening.They can describe how they work with the client, and understand their work in a multi-theoretical framework.
At the end of the day, training a therapist and supporting a client are very much the same process. The process is that of engaging in a relationship in a non-shaming way, helping the person learn what they don’t already know, helping them become aware of their blind spots and how to move through them, and in the end, as they learn and grow, giving them language to be able to communicate what happened to them, both historically and in their growth.