Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Celebrating National Psychotherapy Day

It's National Psychotherapy Day today- the first one ever- and I'll be celebrating by heading, just as I do every other week, to my therapist's office. Why? Because I firmly believe getting my own therapy is an important part of my job as a music  therapist. 

Knowing who I am and what kind of emotional baggage I'm carrying around with me helps me be present and attentive to the clients I serve when I show up to provide music therapy.

When my clients do their best to avoid hearing me invite them to look at a belief they're strongly committed to (sometimes even going so far as to literally stick their fingers in their ears), when they fall asleep mid-session because something we're addressing feels way too overwhelming, when they fight mightily against change...I have a pretty good idea of what it's like. I've felt and done the same (okay, maybe I don't actually stick my fingers in my ears or fall asleep in therapy, but I can be pretty darned noisy if I don't want to know something). 

I'll be honest with you: I am uncomfortable recommending any music therapist I know who hasn't spent at least some time looking at his/her own issues in therapy. I mean, what are we communicating to our clients if we think we're above getting our own therapy? If we, essentially, perpetuate the attitude of stigmatization associated with taking care of one's emotional and mental health? 

One of the (many) reasons I loved the HBO show In Treatment was that the writers made sure the therapist, Paul Weston, went (even though he was kicking and screaming the whole way and was more of a pain in his own sessions than any of his clients ever were in theirs)  for his own therapy! 

Psychotherapy for therapists goes beyond the usual nice, self-care sorts of things we tend to talk about in music therapy circles (you know...the whole getting a massage, taking regular vacations, taking a bubble bath and the like). It's an ongoing commitment to self-discovery, a recognition that, yes, we can and do get in our own (as well as our clients') ways, and figuring out how to (much as we may bravely resist) make changes in our perceptions and ideas about our selves, our lives, and our relationships. 

So, good people, with a grateful nod to Ryan Howes (a blogging buddy who shares his insights over at the Psychology Today blogs as well as being a contributing editor at the Psychotherapy Networker), I invite you to consider how you might join in the acknowledgement and celebration of National Psychotherapy Day

After all, mental health and self-awareness are most certainly worthy of celebration!


Rachelle Norman said...

Thank you for this post, Roia. I'm grateful to say that I'm getting my own psychotherapy now, but I felt a tremendous amount of guilt and shame before taking that step, even knowing rationally that it would make me a healthier person and a better therapist. I think that speaks to the power of the stigma that still exists.

I do wish that I had access to music psychotherapy. I just don't think Skype will do it for me. *sigh*

Ettina said...

Reminds me of psychoanalysts. One of the best features of psychoanalysis, in my opinion, was the fact that all psychoanalysts-in-training, as part of their requirement for training, got several years of analysis themselves. I think it helps to give you empathy for the patient, as well as reducing the risk that your own unresolved issues will interfere with providing therapy effectively.

psychotherapy training said...

Psychotherapy aims to increase the individual's sense of his/her own well-being..for me music is my therapy..every time i feel that i am really alone i just listen to music it would help me relax and it would take away the negative energy that i have inside..

Roia Rafieyan said...

Thank you, @Rachelle, for sharing your experience. It is hard to get into therapy, but once you start going it feels less freaky and starts to be simply what you do as a human being who chooses to keep herself healthy and functioning well. @Ettina I wish music therapy would make this a requirement as well, but alas we can't. Only in post-graduate training. @psychotherapy training, thanks for stopping by and sharing your love of music.