What stage are you in?

What stage are you in?

In The Therapist’s Workbook (2nd Edition), author Jeffrey Kottler discusses the stages of growth and transformation of therapists as a way of highlighting the unique “developmental challenges” that exist throughout our careers. According to Kottler, there are 9 stages that therapists might experience:

  • Training Stage: “What if I don’t have what it takes?”
  • Hero Worship Stage: “If only I could be like you.”
  • Enchantment Stage: “I can’t believe I get paid for doing this!”
  • Competence Stage: “I seem to know what I’m doing!”
  • Honeymoon Stage: “Hey, I’m really good at this!”
  • Mid-career Doubt Stage: “What if I’m not really doing anything?”
  • Pre-burnout Stage: “Another day, another dollar.”
  • Revitalization Stage: “What in me is getting in the way?”
  • Mentorship Stage: “You want to be like me?”

Reflecting on my own experiences, I found these stages to be quite relatable. I remember in graduate school questioning whether I belonged there and wondering if I’d ever reach the same level of skill as my supervisors, but then eventually reaching the competence and honeymoon stages. Earlier on in my career I actually seemed to move back and forth between the first 5 stages. Before moving into private practice about 5 years ago, I was fortunate to experience what Kottler refers to as the Mentorship stage. I’m not going to lie, it was a nice stage to be in!

After 17 years in a salaried job I loved, I decided to move into solo private practice. Although I anticipated the transition to be challenging, I had no idea it would catapult me back to those old thoughts of “What if I don’t have what it takes?” But when you really stop and think about it, why wouldn’t that happen? I never went through “solo practice training.” Similarly, I’m pretty confident none of us went through “switch your in-person practice to virtual within a couple of weeks during a pandemic training.”

So, as you spring clean your self-care, give some consideration to your current professional realities or career stage and how these might relate to what you need for self-care. If you’re like me, there will be some stages where collegial support will be more important than ever!