Both psychologists and psychotherapists constantly hear many questions from friends and even strangers. Clinical psychologist John Grohol has identified five of the most common. “It’s funny that all these questions come up on a regular basis: hardly a plumber or an astrophysicist has to talk about the same thing every now and then,” he grins.
What are the “soul healers” asked about and how do they usually answer these questions?
1. “Are you analyzing me right now?”
Many people tend to think that the psychologist is always looking for ulterior motives of how people act and what they say. In most cases, this is not the case.
Being a good psychotherapist is hard work, emphasizes Dr. Grohol. The professional tries not only to understand his patient, but also to understand his past, life experience and how he thinks. By bringing all these details together, you can get a holistic picture that the therapist is guided by during therapy in order to help the person cope with problems.
It is not some kind of “superpower” that the therapist can simply direct towards a stranger, easily knowing everything about him. “Although it would be great if it were so,” – ironically John Grohol.
2. “The psychotherapists must be very rich?”
It is generally accepted that most psychologists and psychiatrists make huge amounts of money. Indeed, in large cities in the United States, psychoanalysts can receive a very good salary. However, for most psychotherapists, the picture is completely different – both in the West and in Russia.
The highest paid specialists are psychiatrists. Many psychologists and psychotherapists do not consider themselves “rich” at all, and aspiring therapists often experience financial difficulties. The ongoing training, personal therapy and supervision that every self-respecting professional must undergo also requires financial investment.
In short, the overwhelming majority of psychotherapists go about their business not at all because it pays off very well. There are many other areas where pay is much better, Grohol emphasizes. Most professionals practice psychotherapy because they want to help others.
3. “Are you taking customer problems home?”
Oddly enough, according to the expert, the answer to this question is yes. Despite the fact that, through education and professional development, they learn to separate work and life, in practice this does not always work. It would be wrong to think that therapists don’t bring “work” home.
Of course, the situation can vary from client to client, but according to John Grohol, very few therapists can safely leave the “life” of clients in the office. This is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to be a good therapist, and one of the main factors in professional burnout. The best people learn to integrate what they do into their personal lives while maintaining firm boundaries.
4. “What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?”
This question is constantly heard by representatives of both professions. The American expert’s answer is simple: “A psychiatrist is a doctor who spends most of his time in the United States prescribing medications for mental disorders, while a psychologist learns different types of psychotherapy and focuses on the study of a person and his behavior. Psychologists do not prescribe medication, although some specially trained psychologists in some states may. “
In Russian realities, a psychiatrist is a certified physician who treats mental disorders and can prescribe medications. He has a medical university behind him, there is a medical specialization “psychotherapist”, and the use of methods of psychotherapy is also included in his professional competence.
A psychologist, on the other hand, is someone who graduated from the Faculty of Psychology, received a corresponding diploma, is armed with theoretical knowledge and can engage in psychological counseling. A psychologist can also engage in psychotherapy, having received additional education and mastered the appropriate techniques.
5. “Do you get tired hearing about people’s problems all day long?”
Yes, Dr. Grohol answers. Although therapists receive specialized training, this does not mean that there are no days when the work becomes grueling and tiring. “Although professionals get more from psychotherapy than they give, even they can suffer at the end of a bad day when they just get tired of listening.”
As with other professions, good professionals learn to cope with this. They know that days like these can be a warning that they are overworked or stressed and need to take more care of themselves. Or maybe it’s just a sign that it’s time to go on vacation.
“Remember, therapists are human too,” concludes John Grohol. “And although special training and professional experience prepare them for the daily tasks of psychotherapy, like all people, they may not be perfect 100% of the time.”
About the expert: John Grohol is a clinical psychologist and author of articles on mental health.