How often do you hear the story of a banker ditching the lucrative, yet well-trodden route of the MBA and choosing to pursue a diploma in Psychotherapy?
This is my story. Written with the exceptional 20/20 clarity of hindsight, after having completed a 2-year, rollercoaster ride of a diploma in psychotherapy. I have let those experiences ferment and age over the last 2 years and I have distilled it for you as a potent brew, to be slammed back in the form of this article.
The Psychotherapy Inspiration
Before I go any further, I must tell you that I am quite adept at my bank job, as a data analyst. I have enjoyed the analytical challenges and still do to this day.
Though back in 2013, I was opening up to a whole new host of experiences. I started dabbling in energy healing modalities, while becoming aware of my own bio-energetic system. I started drumming at drum circles, camping out at random spiritual festivals, experienced a 5-day shamanic retreat in the middle of a forest near Bancroft and dived into many other paradigm shifting experiences.
The skeletons in my emotional closet were starting to make quite a ruckus in there. I wanted to find a vocation, which developed my skills to be of service to humanity, while ensuring that I did my own personal growth work
Though, during this period, I was unconsciously starting to develop a Messiah/Healer Complex. I was starting to feel like God’s gift to mankind after I “healed” a few people of their problems, through energy work. Thankfully, the proverbial apple of disillusionment fell on my head in the late summer of 2013 and I realized that I barely knew anything about my inner emotional landscape. The skeletons in my emotional closet were starting to make quite a ruckus. I wanted to find a vocation, which developed my skills to be of service to humanity, while ensuring that I did my own personal growth work and kept my fat ego in check.
One thing led to another and within a few weeks I found myself sitting inside a large class on the first day of the part-time psychotherapy program of 2013, at the Transformational Arts College (TAC).
Initial days at my therapy school
What could be a better stage for me to work on my greatly ignored and suppressed Divine Feminine aspect of being than to be the only man in a class of 20+ women? Initially I felt quite uncomfortable and I thought that I was being projected upon for being the solitary specimen of the male sex. But within the first few months, I felt more accepted by my classmates as I started to accept them and myself.
The initial days felt like a deconstruction of all my ideas about listening, therapy, relationships and emotions
The initial days felt like a deconstruction of all my ideas about listening, therapy, relationships and emotions. I thought I was a good listener, until we worked on our listening skills, or I thought I knew a good deal about relationships, until my mind was systematically blown during the love relationship study weekend. I used to hang on to each word that our teachers dropped and I was a zillion times more interested in these classes than I ever was in 4 years of engineering school.
Studying was like therapy in itself and it still is
Within the first year, we started to bond as a group. By the end of the first year nearly 50% of the people in our class had dropped, owing to personal reasons and also the fact that the course stirs your emotional crap like nothing else. The classes started to resemble group therapy sessions, with my classmates (including myself) sharing their guts out during demos and dyad exercises and boxloads of tissues being sacrificed in the process.
It was close to impossible to not feel shaken, stirred and vulnerable in those classes, when some of the topics being discussed hit their raw, emotional targets like Tomahawk cruise missiles busting through years of built up armour. We were there for each other during our most vulnerable moments and all differences were forgotten in these moments of intimate solidarity.
Realizing my latent therapy talents and developing them
Most of our assignments were “hands-on” in nature and involved conducting actual therapy sessions with a partner using a particular modality that we learnt. We also worked in dyads with each other during the in-class exercises. That’s when I started to realize that hey, I can do this therapy thingy! At the risk of drumming my own bongo, I can say that I discovered therapy skills to be a natural part of me.
It felt oddly familiar to be fully present, listening actively, empathizing with my whole being and not just my words, asking probing questions, flowing with my client through the session and knowing when to be more directive, without being abrupt or intrusive. I was a noob and I still am after 100+ hours of client sessions and the day I say that I have perfected the art of therapizing, then on that day I shall cease to be a therapist.
The best part was that I was putting myself in a position to empower others to help themselves. That felt satisfying and wholesome in a way that the Messiah Complex could never accomplish.
Case studies – Practising our new skills in the real world
In January 2015 my batch started the clinical case study programme. This was the litmus test to see whether we were truly cut out for the job. It was one thing to conduct therapy on the converted and preach to the choir in school and a whole new ball game to work with real-life clients from the outside world. I had so much self-doubt back then and I worried about not finding clients. I started slow with 2 clients and went up to my full capacity of 4 clients a week, within a couple of months.
I have loved every minute of it since then!
I have learned so much from my clients and from their personal stories. My inherent human-ness has been the vehicle for transformation in their life and vice versa
I have learned so much from my clients and from their personal stories. My inherent human-ness has been the vehicle for transformation in their life and vice versa. I came out of these sessions feeling a deep sense of respect for my clients, regardless of their issues. I had never felt this form of compassionate reverence to this degree before. Even though it was important that I was not egotistically invested in my client’s transformation, it felt so satisfying to witness it.
Choosing psychotherapy as a new career option has been one of the most satisfying decisions of my life. Are you choosing to detour down an exciting dirt road to follow your passion instead of cruising down the highway of staid comfort? If so, then I would love to hear your story…
Photo Credit – Benedicto de Jesus – Flickr Creative Common