Inside the Mind of a Therapist: What Every Person Should Know

My mind is my own, and I cannot speak for other therapists. However, I believe there may be commonalities among therapists due to the repeated use of certain tools in dealing with clients during therapy sessions. While I will focus on my own thoughts, they are likely influenced by my personality and the work I have done or still need to do. One revelation that amazed me this past year is the realization that some people lack a narrative in their minds; they don’t have an internal voice. About half the population doesn’t experience this internal dialogue; instead, they think in themes or abstract feelings. This is difficult for me to comprehend because my mind is always active, talking to me 24/7.

During Sessions

During sessions, my main focus is on being meta-aware. This skill has developed over time, requiring self-awareness and an understanding of every moment’s nuances. Now, I can sense myself being aware of what is happening, making time feel clearer. Being in tune with the present moment means hyper-awareness, not in an anxious way, but with clarity.

A significant part of a therapist’s role is to mirror the client. Although therapy is for the client, the therapist serves as a guide, holding up a mirror to reflect the client’s actions or thoughts. Implicitly, I ask, “Are you aware of it?” I’m more interested in whether the client is aware of how their behavior influences undesirable aspects of their life. The more awareness a person has, the better they can understand the interconnected factors shaping their complex present.

I discuss ways to build awareness in general blog posts and impart them to my clients by modeling awareness. Clients may wonder if I judge them during sessions, but this is often a projection, as therapists are trained to be active listeners, non-judgmental, and empathetic. I don’t harbor judgments, only awareness. Demonstrations of awareness are meant to provide choice, not to compel clients to stop their actions. If a person decides to continue a behavior creating problems, I respect their choice.

Another aspect of my thoughts during sessions is how the client’s information affects me, both verbally and nonverbally. I remain aware of my curiosity or emotional responses. I, of course, maintain my personal boundary so clients’ emotions and actions do not affect me personally. But using myself as a tool allows me to send questions to the client, pushing them to reflect on their actions. I also aim to be human, offering validation if a client shares a difficult experience.

Outside of Sessions

After sessions, I mentally detach from the work, almost like turning a light switch off. It’s not out of indifference but to maintain strong personal boundaries. Boundaries are crucial for therapists, essential in all relationships, and often the reason people seek therapy in the first place.

Once sessions are over, I focus on personal tasks, from small actions like getting water to larger responsibilities such as dinner plans or handling bills. Essentially, I engage in normal adulting, like anyone.

I invest extra time in self-care, recognizing its benefits. Many neglect their needs or suppress their identity, which is crucial to develop and maintain strong boundaries. My self-care involves not just meeting basic needs but also addressing my own therapeutic work. Daily, I practice introspection, identifying areas for personal growth and essentially being my own therapist. All the tools I provide to clients in sessions, I practice on myself, ensuring authenticity.

In General

Being a therapist has profoundly shaped my emotional and social growth. I’m able to have depth in my emotions and social interactions. If my clients knew me three decades ago, they would be puzzled at how I became a therapist. Seriously, I lacked basic social and emotional skills. Now I’m flooded with these skills.

Now that I’ve been a therapist for a decade now, I can confidently say I’ve put the work in. I’ve spent hours with hundreds of people. People come and go for various reasons, but the diverse experiences contribute to gaining perspective and understanding. Exposure to different perspectives, even if I stumble with my words and make mistakes, it’s been vital for my personal and professional growth. I can reflect, and I often do, about various conversations and experiences I’ve had.

This nuanced understanding of people has broadened my perspective on human behavior, making it challenging to be in certain situations with peers or to consume media that lacks a therapeutic perspective. Observing people outside of therapy, I tend to see them entirely. Sometimes, I remain silent, choosing not to interact as much. While it’s difficult to watch movies with unhealthy character behaviors, I’ve found solace in appreciating sitting in silence because the present moment is so essential to life.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christopher Sims, LPC is a licensed professional counselor in South Central Pennsylvania. He specializes in working with adults navigating anxiety, depression, PTSD, and trauma.

Disclaimer: The thoughts, ideas, and opinions presented in all posts on Just Now Therapy serve educational purposes exclusively. I, as the content creator and owner of this site, am not providing medical or mental health advice. The content is not intended to substitute professional medical guidance, nor does it aim to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, condition, illness, or injury. I assume no responsibility for any individual or entity’s liability, loss, or damage resulting from the use, application, or interpretation of the material. Please consult with a qualified professional for personalized advice and assistance.

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency you can call the National Suicide and Crisis Line at 988 or go to the nearest emergency room.