My story about how I tried to get better at what I do as a therapist…
I think the most obvious barrier for psychologists is that we don’t know what to do to improve our effectiveness.
Do we need more CPD?
Learn another therapy method?
Change where we practice?
Become more niche?
Go more general with the presentations we treat?
Believe me, I have tried all of these, and I got to a stage about 10 years into my career where I realised after studying CBT, ACT, Hypnosis, EMDR, Schema Therapy, and so on, that I could not stuff another therapy into my head.
I tried practicing what I had learnt at workshops and even attempted to integrate what I had learnt into sessions with clients. During the training workshops I would think about clients I felt stuck with or that would suit a particular technique or approach but still, the process of implementation was patchy. I concluded that I needed something that sat over the top of the therapy of choice – a meta idea– and I didn’t need someone else telling me what to do.
I needed to find out for myself.
I felt I had a great ability to connect with clients, and attunement and empathy were my strengths. I thought I had good interpersonal skills.
Why then didn’t I connect well with everyone?
I started administering outcome measures (paper and pen) (about 25 years ago now) to get feedback from clients, and this allowed me to see what was going on in my performance as a therapist with each client.
I credit this change in the way I worked clinically ever since as the basis of my longevity as a psychologist.
Without it I would have burnout before I even knew what that was.
I got too cocky about how good I thought I was and, when I got a dose of humility or rejection and a client dropped out, I took it to heart; but I still didn’t know why it happened or what to do about it.
What I didn’t know was what I did well, how to strengthen those skills, and what areas I needed to improve on.
What are the barriers for you to improve your effectiveness as a therapist?