How do you accelerate your development? The prerequisite is your understanding that you are a primary figure in each client’s ultimate outcome — the client is certainly central but, as the old saying goes, it takes two to tango. Giving and receiving feedback, as well as your view of your growth, impacts your ability to be vitally involved in the therapeutic process. After that, accelerating your development is a five-step process.
- The first step is to track your development and take it on as a project. Proactively monitor your effectiveness in service of implementing strategies to improve your outcomes. Practice the skills of your craft and monitor your results.
- Second, pay close attention to your current growth. Take a step back, review your current clients, and consider the lessons you are learning, especially with those clients who are not benefiting. Empower yourself, like you would your clients, to enable the lessons to take hold and add meaning to your development as a therapist. Articulate how client lessons have changed you and your work and what it means to both your identity as a helper and how you describe what it is that you do.
- Next, deliberately expand your theoretical breadth—loosen your grip on the inherent truth value of any given approach. Take multiple vantage points on your journeys with clients while you search different understandings of client dilemmas.
- Fourth, reflect about your identity and construct a story of your work that captures what you do as a helper. Continue to edit and refine your identity and accounts of what constitutes the essence of your work—evolve a description that you can have allegiance to but that doesn’t lead to dead ends.
- Finally, the fifth and final step to keep your development in the viewfinder: collect client notes, cards, and letters about your work with them, as well as client stories that mark significant events in your growth as a psychotherapist—what Barry calls the “Treasure Chest.” Helping you re-remember why you became a therapist, opening this file enables an escape from the pressures and disappointments of the daily grind of being a therapist.