Purely in human terms, psychotherapy is an intensely interesting and often personally impactful experience, dealing as it does with personally traumatic events, enduring emotional conflicts, difficult intimate relationships, and challenging moral dilemmas of personal life. 2 Given the kind of work they do, it follows that psychotherapists must also be interesting people. It must take a special kind of person to do such work, day after day as a lifetime career. Yet how are they special, if at all? What are they like as persons that enables them to do such challenging work? Are some kinds of persons better able than others to do this work? Is there a special psychotherapeutic talent? What kind or kinds of persons feel called to learn, practice, and tolerate the kind of work that psychotherapy entails. 3 What does a psychotherapeutic vocation require of those drawn to it?
Orlinsky, David E.. How Psychotherapists Live (pp. 1-2). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
I had read Sue Mann’s article, “How Can You Do This Work?”, in Trauma, Narrative Responses To Traumatic Experience edited by David Denborough in which she describes her work as a counselor in an agency serving adults who were sexually abused as children. Sue describes sharing with others, who ask, what she does for a living, and them, then, saying, “How can you do that work?” Throughout my career of 49 years, I have continually reflected on this question myself.
How can you do the work of a psychotherapist? What motivated you to get into the field, and what keeps you in it, or contributed to your leaving.