In this online series, Janina Fisher, examines the underlying issues that most often contribute to therapist error and explores how what drives us to do this work can also contribute to “mistakes of the heart".
Like parenting, psychotherapy can be only “good enough.” Therapeutic mistakes are inevitable, yet our work lives don’t allow us opportunities to acknowledge and grow from them. Our mistakes occur in the privacy of an office with no one but the client with whom we could process them fully. We may pause to critique ourselves but rarely have the chance to ask: what in me drove that error? Why do I find myself this same mistake again and again? Why do I empathically fail this client more often than others? Whether the mistakes we make are clinically mis-attuned or the result of our own internal conflicts, there is much to learn both about preventing future mistakes and repairing past or present errors. Therapists regularly confront the insidious impact of shame on their traumatized clients’ ability to find relief and perspective. Feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy interfere with taking in positive experiences, leaving only hopelessness. Increased ability for self-assertion gets undermined by belief systems about worth or deserving. Progress in the treatment, increasing relief from symptoms, even greater success in life tend to evoke shame and self-judgment rather than pride.
This series really touches on some key questions for anyone working in the talking therapies or mental health care: how do I grow in my practice and stay alive to the people who come to see me?
This online program is worth 9 hours CPD.
For U.S. continuing education credit, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
is a licensed clinical psychologist and instructor at the Trauma Center, founded by Bessel van der Kolk, MD. A faculty member of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, an EMDR International Association consultant, past president of the New England Society for the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation, and former instructor, Harvard Medical School, Dr. Fisher lectures nationally and internationally on the integration of the neurobiological research and new trauma treatment paradigms into traditional psychotherapies.
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