Starting my counseling career on Tuesday and I’m scared to fail. What if I say something stupid and hurt my clients and make it worse? This is a second career for me so is hard to be older and a novice. I know it’s not about me and that I will truly care so I keep reminding myself of that. Any thoughts from others new to the field or advice from more experienced practitioners?

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Hi. Congratulations. I have this thought constantly and I've been a therapist for years. If you say something wrong apologize and move on. Stay connected to therapy groups

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Thank you. After I read this I reached out to some of my classmates about starting a newbie therapist group where we can just get together to support and encourage each other. 😊

Hey! Congratulations on the new role. How exciting. Just remember we’re all human and we all make mistakes, it’s not about being perfect. Get lots of support through supervision to begin with to discuss your cases in depth. It really helps to debrief after each client to better understand how the session went and the direction it may be heading in (which always seems to change by the way!) but you go with the flow :) with a strong mindset of “do no harm,” you’re already on the right track :) you got this!

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You will absolutely say and do the wrong thing from time to time, and that is totally okay! Just be yourself and everything else will fall into place. You’ve got this!!

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If you do say something that hurts their feelings, it’s a great opportunity to model healthy conflict resolution, healthy communication, and leaning in to the discomfort. Think corrective emotional experience when it comes to conflict. Also important to remember rapport. If you have it, it’s a lot easier to apologize and move on.

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I agree with prior comment. You are human and mistakes happen. Depending on clients, you may also encounter a person that is upset by anything and everything. The hardest part is to not take things personal. My boss said she was given advice long ago to never take credit for a client's successes or failures. It's a good motto because you are just the conduit to help them find the path that is best for them, not for you or anyone else.

Best if luck in your new career!! :-)

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Thank you for this. I’ve found that the same advice applies to parents and their children! Don’t take too much credit…or blame.

Self-care. Don’t work so hard and be there for so many that you forget to take care of yourself. I also feel strongly if you can, even be on the other side of the room as a client and do your own work so you can really know where your own triggers are. However, yes I would say I agree with above that after being in this field for 30 years, you really have to allow yourself to also just be human. Sometimes we may say things the wrong way or comes out in a way we don’t intend but yes apologize and give yourself some grace and move on. Some clients will have such high expectations of you and put you on a pedestal or expect you to be at their beck and call so just know your boundaries and that you don’t have to be everyone’s therapist that crosses your path. Sometimes we are not a good match for each other.

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Yes I do have a tendency to neglect myself especially when caring for others and chasing a goal (racking up those 1000 direct client hours asap to get licensed!!). A therapist may help me sort out why I do that! 😉 thank you for your guidance and encouragement. Congratulations to you for being in the field for 30 years! I was a pharmacist for 30 years before starting on this journey.

Congratulations on your new career! When in doubt, just remember to be authentic and show up for your clients. The fact you have these worries means you care. Keep a journal of your successes, mistakes, and reflections. It’s helpful to look back on these throughout your career. Supervision is must! Also, if you haven’t done your own therapy, this is something to consider doing. A couple books you might look into are: “On Being A Therapist” and “Sometimes Therapy is Awkward.” Good luck!

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Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement. I’ve read one of those books and am getting closer to recognizing that getting my own therapy would be a good idea.

Do your own work… it is much easier to show up for others when you are clear with yourself.

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