Therapists need to do more

Travis Knowlton LCSW
3 min readNov 18, 2023

The times call for us to be more for our clients.

Ian Schneider via Unsplash

As mental health therapists, we are trained in the history and classical therapeutic approaches to interacting, interpreting, and staying emotionally distant while all the time expressing sympathy and empathy in a deeply “real” manner.

In our education, we are taught all the science and biology of what we do, and with all of this, there is a sense of authority when your clients come in the door. Now, I don't mean in an egotistical manner, but in how we are educated, licensed, and practiced, we are simply in that space for them.

Dropping any sense of authority is a necessity and must happen immediately. Looking through the lens of “helpers” throughout human history, the most impactful ones are the outliers, the ones who don’t follow the norm.

Let’s start with a few starting points to help solidify my position;

Your office.

It’s not yours, it’s the client’s space to reinvent, to discover and uncover their true selves.

Acalades.

They(the client) are in your office because you are qualified. Take all your certifications and credentials off the wall. That includes your degree. The office is there space, not a place for you to Bragg.

Appearance.

Stop playing the part. There is this unspoken appearance that therapists are supposed to have…drop it and dress like you, how you really are. This allows the client to believe you when you encourage them to be authentic.

Your craft.

Never stop learning and growing your knowledge. We encourage growth so we must be the pinnacle of that perspective.

Know your theoretical orientation and practice it. This” I customize to my client and pull what is needed” line is crap. You need a direction, and they need to know you will help them down a clear path. If you're not on a clear path, how are you gonna help them?

Use transference and countertransference in the session.

These are amazing tools. If your client can see your real heartfelt reaction to things ( regulated, of course), then…

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Travis Knowlton LCSW

I'm a husband, father, veteran, and licensed clinical social worker that is here to enjoy and share!