chapter  1
23 Pages

The Path to Competence

My entry into the field of psychotherapy was typical. Like many therapists, I was drawn to the field because I was a “people person.” I had a knack for talking with people about their inner life, I enjoyed introspective work, and I felt like I could be good at it. Furthermore, I was quite confident of the potential benefits of psychotherapy. Although I had never read any psychotherapy research, my gut told me that many individual and social life challenges were caused by psychological blocks, and psychotherapy offered the keys to healing, growth, and empowerment. (Turns out my gut was right: decades of research have shown psychotherapy to be, on average, very effective for helping people with a wide range of problems; Lambert, 2013.)

Like many aspiring therapists, no small part of my inspiration to enter the field came from my personal experiences in psychotherapy (Farber, Manevich, Metzger, & Saypol, 2005). In my late teens I had become deeply depressed; a psychologist’s evaluation recommended that I be removed from school due to risk of suicide. A mentor at my school connected me with a kind and compassionate psychologist. Using a patient, nonconfrontational Rogerian style, the psychologist melted my angry and rebellious persona. My first few years of therapy with him were instrumental in helping me pull myself together, graduate high school, and enter college. I became an evangelist for psychotherapy and the power of introspection to transform lives. Now an adult, I wanted to provide that life-saving help for others.