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Barton Goldsmith: Therapists need therapy, too (especially in the Zoom era)

Barton Goldsmith, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

You’d think after doing Zoom and FaceTime sessions all week, I’d run from a group therapy session for therapists. In truth, it took me a little while to get on my first call. But it was great.

It’s taking your own medicine — and it tastes good. This is therapy for the therapist, and we all need it. Did you know that after getting your master’s degree, there is no requirement for therapists to do therapy? Still, I have seen a lot of therapists in my practice over the years, and they work hard on themselves to be better at what they do and who they are.

With the pandemic, most businesses have adapted for social distancing, and medicine and psychotherapy are no exception. Most counseling is now done online. Doing therapy this way works fine, but it is more difficult than face-to-face counseling. A therapist has to work much harder to feel the other person’s energy (and get them to feel yours), and so it requires more focus in many cases.

That works for me. I enjoy it for the most part, and the results have been excellent working one-on-one with my individual clients and working with couples. Group therapy would be much harder, I thought, but when we got a small group of therapists together for regular biweekly sessions, the group almost ran itself and has been very therapeutic.

We all need to find better ways to take care of ourselves and our loved ones emotionally, and that process will not end until COVID-19 does. My friend Lani Votaw, LMFT, set up the group I’m in, and we have become closer because of it. I admire how hard she works at her practice and still gives her time to do what’s needed to keep our meetings going.

 

The men and women who attend share their struggles and some joys as well as tips on how to improve this new process of working with clients. For example, I take more time between sessions now and have learned to pace myself better throughout the day. This helps me stay in balance during this unprecedented time in our lives.

I’m doing a TED Talk for the Australian Medical Coalition about the need for all of us in the health field to get emotional support during the pandemic. I sometimes see nurses, therapists and physicians at the end of the day feeling like the proverbial painter going home to an unpainted house. Self-care is more important than it has ever been. None of us signed up for this; we were blindsided but are making the best of it and doing our jobs.

I will continue to attend these group therapy meetings because they help me cope with all the pain that is going on around us. To be able to talk with peers and know that you are not alone in your struggle is very healing and empowering. You don’t have to be a therapist to get a lot of out of group therapy. If there is something like this available to you, please give it a try. The great part is that you can be anywhere in the world and still participate.

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