Yesterday, I had a whole-day fun-filled, interactive university lecture/seminar on psychotherapy and personality before 200+ psychology students over at RTU in Manila. Celine, Jovic, and their team did excellent organizing, which brought memories of my years in undergraduate psychology (not too long ago!). It’s self-therapeutic for the therapist to feel younger once in a while!
Although my lecture was supposed to be academic, I found it appropriate to infuse bits of my personal story into my talks. The practice of psychotherapy is indeed a unique life where professional and personal can complement each other. There are few jobs in the world in which the boundaries between work and play, between professional and personal, are so permeable.
All the powers of observation, perception, diagnosis and analysis that are important tools in my profession are equally useful with family, friends, and other areas of personal life. The skills I use in my work such as emphatic listening or flexible problem solving, also prove deeply essential in helping people close to us or whom we dearly love.
In a similar vein, my own life’s pain, struggles, joys, victories, travels, learnings, mistakes, conversations, readings etc. provide a foundation for my effectiveness as a psychotherapist and counselor. Everything I do in therapy sessions and beyond always contain elements of who and what I am in my whole being. Personal and professional are inevitably so fused in the work I do that I’m always “on duty.” This is not merely a way to earn a living then; it is the essence of life.