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Becoming a Therapist

I was nervous. I stood outside of my therapist’s door, for the first time in August 2009, and wondered what I was getting myself into. I didn’t fit the stereotypical idea of a therapy client that I had in my head; I wasn’t stressed or full of anxiety about anything (except going to therapy) and I didn’t have a particular problem I desperately wanted to talk about. But I did want to become a therapist, which some might say was an actual problem I needed therapy for.

Entering therapy for the first time was more than just a requirement of my counselling training course however; it was a vetting system to see if I was up to the task. Would I fail at the first hurdle? Could I really be emotionally open and deal with my own issues enough to provide the same service to others? No one else was going to answer these questions for me however, but the answer came strong and clear when I started seeing clients. It was a long and resounding YES, I can do this!

I probably shouldn’t phrase it in such a way, but I am in love with the work. I love being able to participate in someone’s journey through life, even if I only join them for a few stops along the way. I relish the opportunity to assist and support someone emotionally, or just be a silent listener to those going through a hardship in life, and for those who feel that life itself is their hardship. And perhaps it sounds like a cliché to say that I love to help people, but I do. Equally, I have my own selfish reasons for entering the work.

I would say that for the majority of my years on this earth, I have felt like life was my hardship. Everything felt difficult, complicated and impossible to handle emotionally, but instead of recoiling into myself, I wanted to make it so that I could help others avoid feeling the same way that I did. Nevertheless, I was at a very low point when I found an introductory counselling course in a local college. I had been back and forth about choosing to embark on counselling for many years, wondering if I had what it took and feeling lost in a labyrinth of “normal” career choices. The introductory course seemed basic enough and not too demanding, so I went for it and I haven’t looked back since.

It helped me to identify the influences behind my depressive feelings, recognise some aspects of it in others, and helped me to reflect on my affect on others around me. It was engaging and exposed me to new people who had similar goals and drives as me to help others in some way. I decided there and then that therapy was what I wanted to do, and if I could, I would live and breathe it too. And I’ve been doing just that ever since, by completing my introductory course and a Masters degree in counselling and psychotherapy, and seeing clients for the last few years.

I wish I could say that it’s an easy and uncomplicated journey once you get the hang of it, but in reality if you do it right, you never stop learning or being challenged by new experiences and people. Becoming a therapist is a life investment, of which I am still paying dividends. It involves my time, my emotions, my finances and my willingness to always keep an open mind; and it’s been amazing, life changing and incredibly exhausting!

So what makes it all worth it? Sitting in a room with another person, having the privilege to hear about their lives, and providing them with a safe and non-judgmental space which they might not have access to in any other situation. Most of all it’s about being able to witness the human capacity for emotional repair and resilience, time and time again.

It’s not for the fainthearted, but I recommend it for the passionate at heart.

Olivia Danso at Olivia Danso Psychotherapy

Olivia set up her own practice, in North London, providing therapy for sexual abuse, mental illness and trauma. For three years she volunteered as a counsellor at One in Four and is continuing her studies for a Psychosocial Graduate Certificate. As well as working towards becoming an accredited therapist, Olivia is a blogger, a poet and a free thinker.

 

See: Asking for Help

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