Category Archives: Work

Therapy for Therapists

Therapy for Therapists

As a psychotherapist, you already know that “you are the tool.” And like any tool, it is important to stay sharp. I like to think about therapy for therapists in the same way I think about knives in the kitchen: a sharp one makes the work easier and safer, while a dull one makes the work harder and more dangerous.

There are many reasons why therapy for therapists is so important. First, if you are a therapist who has not yet been in your own therapy (yes, a surprising number of graduate programs do not require their students to be in therapy), there is no time like the present to start. As well-trained as you may be, as good as you may be at your work, as much as your clients may love you, having had the experience of being a client is necessary and important. We are asking people to be courageous and vulnerable and we need to know for ourselves what that feels like. And unless you have done your own work, the work you will be able to do will always be limited.

Second, maybe you are a therapist who has had therapy but it has been a while. Or maybe your last therapist had an approach that was just fine back then, but your interests have changed or you feel like you just didn’t get as far or as deeply into the work as you would have liked. I have had the privilege of working with many therapists whose own approach is very different from mine, but who specifically wanted to work with someone with a different approach and perspective. Therapists who have done this report that it has been helpful not only personally with respect to knowing themselves better and from a new vantage point, but also professionally with respect to broadening their thinking about their own clients and approach to therapy.

Third, you don’t need another therapist to tell you how difficult and isolating this work can sometimes feel–you already know this. We hear about a lot of things from our clients and many of the things we hear are quite difficult. Being in our own therapy offers a safe and confidential place to talk about the many stressors we encounter in our work. It can help us to look at how our own experiences, belief systems, blocks, and unresolved issues might be getting in our way. It can help uncover whatever might be going on in our unconscious that stops us from doing our best work. It gives us an important and protected space to not have to try to get it right, to be able to let down our guard. We are not always our own best observer. As Thomas Ogden says when discussing the ideas of psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion, “It requires two minds to think one’s most disturbing thoughts.” (Ogden, T., Bion’s Four Principles of Mental Functioning. 2008. Fort Da 148: 11-35)

Finally, seeing a therapist yourself is a terrific way to observe–up close and Very personal–another therapist at work. Sure, you are in a consultation group or two and you have had plenty of supervision, but hearing your colleagues and supervisors talk about cases is much different from the direct experience of sitting across from another therapist as the client. It offers a unique opportunity to be able to be inside the mind of the client (you!) and hear how a therapist responds. Even if you have been in therapy before, returning to therapy from time to time over the course of your career can offer new insights. Each therapist is different and you will learn different things from working with different therapists. With so many therapists now working online, this is a great time to find someone you might want to work with without the hassle of commuting to their office.

Questions about psychotherapy or about my approach to psychotherapy? Please see my website at and contact me at my San Francisco psychotherapy office: 415-218-2442 (phone link works from smartphones only) or at

Can Therapy Help With the Stress of Your Work Situation?

Therapy for Dealing with the Stress of Your Work Situationtherapy for stress, work, career

Have you ever thought about how much time and life energy your job consumes? Or maybe you have thought about how much you don’t want to think about this!? We spend most of our waking life—and much of our life when we are not awake—focused on our career and the demands of the workplace. Some of the time we spend is obvious: if we work for someone else, we are expected to be on the job during certain hours. If we work for ourselves, we are interacting with customers or developing our business. But there is more to work time than the actual time we spend working.

The “Work of Work” can be invisible…

A lot of the time we spend may be hidden. For example, the time we spend commuting or buying clothes that we will only wear to our place of business or to meet with customers. What about the time spent preparing a lunch based on how well it will hold up until we can take a break, rather than on what we would really like or what is healthiest for us? How about the time you spend keeping up with your field or trying to expand your skill set with reading or classes or obtaining certifications? If you own your own business, or if you work in fields such as sales, you probably spend a lot of time networking with others. Most people spend at least some amount of time with our significant others and friends talking about the bad day we had at work or the great project we just completed, rather than just enjoying the time together.

In addition to the waking time that we spend, whether obvious or hidden, we may also find ourselves dreaming about work, work projects, co-workers, or customers. Even when we are on vacation, it is, sorry to say, essentially a longer break from work. There is often the rush to get things organized before we leave and there is the overwhelm of the tasks that require our immediate attention when we return. And this does not take into account what may be going through our heads while we are gone when we worry about the projects we left unfinished or the Inbox full of email that will greet us on our return. Too many people are unable to fully leave the workplace behind and take laptops, phones, and access to email on vacation, along with spouses, partners, the kids, and maybe the dog.

…and still be a major form of stress

Given the demands of our work life and the space it takes in our lives, it is no wonder that work and career, above and beyond the work itself, can be major sources of stress for many people. Some of the many common sources of work stress include wondering whether we are in the right profession, dealing with the politics of your particular work environment, and finding time for relaxation, the tasks of daily life, friends, and family while in a demanding job. Another less visible source of stress may be working in an environment where the work style does not match yours, for example, a company where people are expected to work long hours and “adopt” the workplace and their co-workers as home and family. While that may be great for many of your co-workers, this may not feel like a fit for you and can leave you feeling anxious, upset, or out of place.

Also in the category of less visible forms of work stress is the stress experienced by people who are in jobs that require some form of confidentiality: perhaps they are working on a confidential product or project, or they are part of the management or leadership team, or dealing with personnel issues that require discretion. People in these roles are faced with the challenge of having to remain silent about situations that may be upsetting, stressful, or simply too difficult to handle alone. Often resulting in the same forms of stress are jobs that are just plain emotionally difficult, e.g., working directly with the public or in specific fields that have an increased risk of burnout.

Therapy can help!

Because of the confidential nature of therapy, it can be a great place to find new answers and strategies, or just get a different perspective without the fear that confidential information will end up on someone’s Facebook page. It can give you an opportunity to explore ideas for change, or find much needed compassion and strength to handle the challenges you may be facing.

Prior to becoming a therapist, I spent more than two decades working for large and small companies, and I have been the owner of a small consulting company. I use this background, along with years of training and experience as a psychotherapist, to offer a practical and warm approach to help you look at your life in new and creative ways.

Questions about psychotherapy or about my approach to psychotherapy? Please see my website at and contact me at 415-218-2442 (phone link works from smartphones only) or at