It is a common occurrence that mental health providers struggle to separate themselves from their work. Helpers must examine how their professional activity affects them to maintain their psychological health while supporting their clients. Gerald Corey and Marianne Schneider Corey (2014) see therapy as “an avenue for continuing to deepen your self-understanding and for looking at how your needs are related to your work” (p. 72). Unless the counselor has identified their sources of vulnerability and grown out of the trauma that could have left them psychologically wounded, they may continuously get triggered by their clients’ stories.
For example, in counseling individuals or families, specialists may come to the realization the themes of their sessions evoke particular triggers in them, which may have been outside of their consciousness before. In case of such unawareness that stems from one’s family experiences, it is crucial to find methods to avoid dealing with these triggering areas while counseling clients. Over time, suppressed trauma and old wounds “can be opened, affecting both personal and professional life” (Corey & Corey, 2014, p. 68). Indeed, therapeutic practices can awaken the helper’s past experiences and unresolved issues that require closure. Every specialist needs to be prepared to work on their problems and responses to triggers in the process of counseling.
When a helper becomes aware of the reappearing patterns that converted from personal experiences into their professional life, the next logical step is considering individual or group counseling. It can be a safe and effective way for them to explore and talk about their painful memories and burdens. Individual therapy supports healthy personal growth and provides an avenue for remediation when it is necessary. A group experience, on the other hand, can help the specialist recognize their reactions and offer them room to experiment with their reactions and behaviors in a welcoming group setting. The feedback one receives from others can help to learn about personal characteristics that could be either helpful or damaging in their work as a helper. These practices are free of judgment; instead, they promote acceptance and mindfulness.
Critical thinking is an essential part of my growth and development as a human being and as a counselor. It is vital to understand and reflect on life’s turning points to have a stable framework for working with clients. Self-exploration and self-understanding are interlinked with critical thinking. To think critically, a helper must be “aware of their inner responses and learn to work through their pain in a constructive manner to be effective in their professional work” (Corey & Corey, 2014, p. 68). I identify critical thinking as an integral approach both in my personal and professional lives.
Apart from individual and group therapy, there are plenty of approaches to personal and professional growth that can be efficient and rewarding. They include “reflecting on the meaning of your life and work; remaining open to the reactions of significant people in your life; traveling and immersing yourself in different cultures” (Corey & Corey, 2014, p. 72). Such activities help gain more precious experience and develop a personal viewpoint that can be later used to form critical thinking. I firmly believe that I need to know myself and be in tune with my past experiences and reactions to become an effective therapeutic agent in others’ lives.
Corey, G., & Corey, M. S. (2014). Becoming a helper (7th ed.). Cengage Learning.