By Juliet Grayson, author of "Landscapes of the Heart: The working world of a sex and relationship therapist
Here are ten things that you will not know about your relationship therapist. These are based on me, and may not be true for ALL couples therapists!
We get frustrated that clients leave it so long before finding a relationship therapist to help them. Most people seem to wait eighteen months to two years after the problem first started. If it's a sexual problem, clients often delay for three years or more. This means that the problems they are addressing are more entrenched. The sooner clients come for help the easier it is to help them fix their problem(s).
We understand the importance of separating behaviour from identity. This means that even when you have done something that you are ashamed about (behaviour), your therapist will be able to offer positive regard for who you are (identity), and may feel a lot of compassion for your situation.
It is not considered professional for us therapists to share too many details about our own personal lives, children, marriages etc.
We think carefully about the clothes we wear, and avoid wearing 'sexy' clothes, such as low cut tops and short skirts.
We get very fond of some of our clients, and are sad when they finish therapy. We love getting a Christmas card, or Seasons Greetings card once a year, with an update on how things are going and what has been happening. However, we won't contact you to ask you how it is going (unless this was agreed in advance) as this is considered unethical.
We don't make as much money as you think from therapy. Most of us in private practice have had to pay for all of our training, which may have taken many years. Most of us pay for: room-hire, supervision, ongoing training (which is required in order to keep practicing as a therapist, usually 20-30 hours per annum), membership fees to be accredited, and we don't receive holiday pay, sick pay and only receive the state pension.
Many of us are wounded healers, having had challenging and damaging childhoods. We know what it means to be the client in therapy, and have worked through own issues in one-to-one or couple therapy.
We sometimes think about our clients between sessions, and may dream about them.
We have regular supervision. This is a space where we discuss cases (anonymously) with another professional who is there to provide ideas and guidance for difficult cases, offer encouragement when needed, challenge poor practice, monitor ethics, help us if we find a client sexually attractive, and generally provide a space for us to reflect on our practice.
Therapists have a high respect for confidentiality. We won't discuss you with our partner or our friends. We won't write about your case unless we have had your written permission to do so.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Juliet Grayson is a UKCP registered psychotherapist, and author of Landscapes of the Heart: The working world of a sex and relationship therapist (Published April 2016). £12.99 www.landscapesoftheheart.co.uk
To find a therapist contact www.TheJulietGraysonNetwork.org