Dr. Matt Hersh, founder of The Thriving Therapist

Dr. Hersh is a psychotherapist, Certified Energy Psychologist, mindfulness teacher, & founder of The Thriving Therapist, a site devoted to helping the helpers. Learn more about us and check out our free resources, online courses, and workshops on self-care, work-life balance, burnout prevention, your thriving practice, & much more.

As therapists who truly desire to thrive, we must look within ourselves and our surroundings for the inspiration that sparks our evolution and growth. We actually don’t need to look too far though. Inspiration for thriving is often all around us. In fact, sometimes it’s right across the room from us.

This post focuses on how clients inspire therapists’ growth. Simply by looking for clients’ areas of growth, you can ignite your own self-evolution.  

Clients Inspire Therapists’ Growth

Our clients who are struggling are always evolving, and we’re always trying to facilitate their growth in one way or another.

Your client with PTSD, for example, might finally be confronting her avoidance and practicing living in accordance with what she truly finds meaningful and of value to her. How inspirational for us!

What could you derive from her grit and growth that could spark something in you? What part of your life could be enhanced by coming to terms with your own avoidant behavior? Could you make commitments each day to live on purpose, with meaning? – just like your client is striving to do.

Perhaps you have a new client who has already been to five other therapists. What about this client’s perseverance and continued hope for change can inspire you in your darker times or when you simply feel like giving up or giving in?

How Do We Let Clients Inspire Us?

We simply need to “turn on the switch” of curious observation and of brief reflection about our clients’ journeys.

We can gently allow for the wisdom that emerges from these observations and reflections to flow into an aspiration to evolve our own lives.

In other words, easefully seek inspiration from those already doing the meaningful work that you’re already helping them do. It’s all right there in front of us. Pretty simple formula, right?

Caveats About Seeking Inspiration From Clients

There are a few notes of caution to the seeking of inspiration from what we observe in our clients.

  • We all know this, but it bears a quick underscoring: our clients are not there to directly to serve us in any way. It’s of course the other way around. It’s just that we shouldn’t rely on our clients or their experiences to lift us up. Rather, we can, with great ease and mindful observation, sense our clients as agents of change and observe their progress. The shared humanity in the room can elevate and naturally inspire us.
  • We need to be mindful of the belief that our clients will make us change for the better. Our clients can only influence us, and we can certainly allow ourselves to be indirectly influenced for the better.
  • Seeking inspiration from your client’s growth is not meant to inspire a competitive spirit or self-judgment when you’re not feeling inspired in some way. This can be an easeful process that ideally would not engender feelings of over-striving in you.
  • Relying on clients’ stories as a sole source of inspiration for our own lives neglects the hundreds of other ways to get our lives moving in desired directions. So if you find yourself over-striving to find inspiration in the therapy room, take a mindful step back, ask what’s motivating you to grasp in this way, and practice shifting to trusted others and your own wisdom as sources of self-growth.
  • If you aren’t inspired by your clients’ growth, you may be experiencing one of a few phenomena.
    • First, most of your clients may be very stuck or in deep despair, and this of course can be quite anti-inspirational. Don’t force the inspiration, and yet also see what is there to appreciate about the struggle or stuckness.
    • Second, you may be burned out, overly stressed, fatigued, or struggling with your own dark lens through which you are viewing your work. Please seek colleague assistance or professional help if this is the case. You deserve this!
    • Third, your training may promote a view of clients’ pathology vs. their growth. Although you’re tuned into markers of progress, you may still revert to looking for problems. Peer supervision is a very good tool to help with this.

How Will You Be Inspired This Week?

For your next few client meetings, take some mental notes of what growth is happening for your clients that might inspire your own evolutionary drive.

You can be on the lookout for literally anything that sparks your sense of awe, elevation, inspiration, evolution, aspiration, motivation, wonderment, positivity, beauty, humanity, and so on.

Our community would love to hear a story from you about your own inspiration in the therapy room.

So drop a comment below, and as always, please be mindful of the confidentiality and privacy of those we serve.

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