Therapy and supervision for creative art therapy students and therapists
Why is personal therapy and supervision so crucial for a practicing therapist and prospective therapists?
When I was a student studying psychology and creative arts therapy, I understood early on that our ability to take care of and help ourselves is of huge significance for our health and wellbeing in our profession as therapists.
Every therapist must be internally equipped to undertake emotionally demanding work. In a therapeutic setting, we are expected to deal with a multitude of contentious, demanding, and sometimes libidinous feelings and stories of our patients/clients. We are supposed to advise the people who seek us out for therapy: to guide them, support them and inspire them, so that they can achieve a better wellbeing. We are supposed to guide them in surmounting their difficulties in the most positive way possible.
For that reason a therapist should also be familiar with the darker regions of his or her own life and the shadow sides within themselves. Therapists should hold a high level of competence in transforming and working with the shadow.
When therapists carry out their work thoughtfully, when they take their task and responsibility seriously, and when they research the consequences, influences and meanings of therapeutic work on themselves and their clients/patients, they also find out what their “soul” needs. They find out how they can provide therapeutic counseling in a way that is healthy for both themselves and their patients. In concrete terms, that means we (therapists), should continually strive in our everyday lives to construct spaces which stimulate the connection we have with ourselves, open up fields of exploration and processing, and activate our inner resources. To be a responsible therapist also means being prepared for the obligations and cultivation of our profession.
Questions which prospective and professional therapists should always be asking themselves:
- How do I take care of myself as a person working in therapy, surrounded by people afflicted with illness, crisis, melancholy, and other strong feelings?
- How do I find solid ground and clarity in a working environment, which can be highly chaotic, hierarchical or unstable?
- How do I re-energize myself in a profession, which exacts such a high degree of emotional presence?
- How can I take on board my patients’ stories whilst in the process myself remaining healthy and positive?
- How do I strengthen my self-efficacy and my proactive thinking and behavior in the context of these reflections?