Therapists' Role: Supporting Personal Growth in Therapy

By Sarah Earles, MS, LPC, NCC | March 22, 2024 

Therapy is often called a “helping profession.” It is designed to help individuals identify and process difficult life experiences and gain skills to become their best selves. While therapists are not the drivers of change, they are the helpers along the way. This role, however, can seem a bit nebulous. Do counselors really care about their clients? Or are they just helpers for the money? Read one therapist’s response below.

Most therapists get into the helping profession because they care. Many professionals actually get into the field because of their own adverse experiences, and the desire to help others who have experienced similar hardships (Brown, Carlisle, Burgess, Clark, & Hutcheon, 2022; Hairston, n.d.). Counselors and therapists are trained to help others, and their courses teach them that their therapeutic relationship is the greatest driver of change outside of the clients’ own contributions (Drisko, 2013). The job of a counselor is not actually to care, though (Smith, n.d.). The job of the counselor is to help. Compassionate care is a natural outflow of the counselor’s role. The counselor’s role, however, has some important caveats.

Clients may wonder if counselors and therapists care because of refusal to participate in what are seen as typical social activities. This is not due to a lack of care, however, but rather due to counselor ethics codes. These professional ethics codes prohibit giving and receiving gifts with clients, meeting outside of therapy, becoming friends on social media, engaging in non-therapeutic conversations outside of the therapy room, and more (American Counseling Association [ACA], 2014; Hairston, n.d.). The intent is not to inhibit care, but rather to keep counselors and therapists objective so that they can best help clients.

Therapy is a job, but it is not a job that most people enter into because they want to earn money. They enter into it because they care about human flourishing and want to spend their lives promoting it. Do therapists have to care? No, but good ones do. They just do it in a professional way so that they can support their clients in reaching their full potential… potential that is outside the therapy room in the grand, big world, rather than tied to a therapist in a small office.

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Therapy is often called a “helping profession.” It is designed to help individuals identify and process difficult life experiences and gain skills to become their best selves. While therapists are not the drivers of change, they are the helpers along the way. This role, however, can seem a bit nebulous. Do counselors really care about their clients? Or are they just helpers for the money? Read one therapist’s response below.

Most therapists get into the helping profession because they care. Many professionals actually get into the field because of their own adverse experiences, and the desire to help others who have experienced similar hardships (Brown, Carlisle, Burgess, Clark, & Hutcheon, 2022; Hairston, n.d.). Counselors and therapists are trained to help others, and their courses teach them that their therapeutic relationship is the greatest driver of change outside of the clients’ own contributions (Drisko, 2013). The job of a counselor is not actually to care, though (Smith, n.d.). The job of the counselor is to help. Compassionate care is a natural outflow of the counselor’s role. The counselor’s role, however, has some important caveats.

Clients may wonder if counselors and therapists care because of refusal to participate in what are seen as typical social activities. This is not due to a lack of care, however, but rather due to counselor ethics codes. These professional ethics codes prohibit giving and receiving gifts with clients, meeting outside of therapy, becoming friends on social media, engaging in non-therapeutic conversations outside of the therapy room, and more (American Counseling Association [ACA], 2014; Hairston, n.d.). The intent is not to inhibit care, but rather to keep counselors and therapists objective so that they can best help clients.

Therapy is a job, but it is not a job that most people enter into because they want to earn money. They enter into it because they care about human flourishing and want to spend their lives promoting it. Do therapists have to care? No, but good ones do. They just do it in a professional way so that they can support their clients in reaching their full potential… potential that is outside the therapy room in the grand, big world, rather than tied to a therapist in a small office.

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References

American Counseling Association. (2014). ACA code of ethics. Retrieved from http://www.counseling.org/docs/ethics/2014-aca-code-of-ethics.pdf

Brown, E.M., Carlisle, K.L., Burgess, M., Clark, J., & Hutcheon, A. (2022). Adverse and positive childhood experiences of mental health counselor as predictors of compassion satisfaction burnout, and secondary traumatic stress. The Professional Counselor 12(1), 49-54. doi: 10.15241/emb.12.1.49

Drisko, J. (2013).The common factors model: Its place in clinical practice and research. Smith College Studies in social work, 83(4), 398-413. doi: 10.1080/00377317.2013.833435

Hairston, S.(n.d.) Does my therapist like me? (Why it REALLY matters). Open Counseling. https://blog.opencounseling.com/does-my-therapist-like-me/

Smith, K. (n.d.) Does my therapist care about me? Is that what I pay them for? Full Living: A psychotherapy practice. https://fullliving.com/does-my-therapist-care-about-me-is-that-what-i-pay-them-for/

References

American Counseling Association. (2014). ACA code of ethics. Retrieved from http://www.counseling.org/docs/ethics/ 2014-aca-code-of-ethics.pdf

Brown, E.M., Carlisle, K.L., Burgess, M., Clark, J., & Hutcheon, A. (2022). Adverse and positive childhood experiences of mental health counselor as predictors of compassion satisfaction burnout, and secondary traumatic stress. The Professional Counselor 12(1), 49-54. doi: 10.15241/emb.12.1.49

Drisko, J. (2013).The common factors model: Its place in clinical practice and research. Smith College Studies in social work, 83(4), 398-413. doi: 10.1080/00377317.2013.833435

Hairston, S.(n.d.) Does my therapist like me? (Why it REALLY matters). Open Counseling. https://blog.opencounseling.com/does-my-therapist-like-me/

Smith, K. (n.d.) Does my therapist care about me? Is that what I pay them for? Full Living: A psychotherapy practice. https://fullliving.com/does-my-therapist-care-about-me-is-that-what-i-pay-them-for/