Why Therapists Need Therapy Too

Therapists often experience emotional and psychological difficulties due to their profession. Continuous exposure to clients’ problems and long work hours can affect their well-being and productivity. This article discusses common issues therapists face, the importance of therapy for therapists, signs indicating the need for therapy, and how to find the right therapist.

By Alan Deibel, LCPC
Woman speaks in therapy.

Updated on May 20, 2024

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While you dedicate your career as a therapist to helping others overcome their life challenges, you may also experience emotional and psychological difficulties. Continuous exposure to your client’s problems and complexities can be overwhelming, affecting your productivity in the future. Further, working long hours can be detrimental to your overall well-being.

So, do therapists have therapists, and should you see one? This article discusses the common problems you may encounter as a therapist and why therapy is essential for you too. It also explores common telltale signs of the need for treatment and how to find the right therapist.

Common Problems Therapists Face

Therapists may encounter several challenges, some specific to their profession. Understanding the most significant challenges can help you take the necessary measures to prevent adverse effects. Psychologists may face occupational hazards such as the following:

Other challenges that psychotherapists are likely to face in their work include:

Ethical Dilemmas

Dealing with potential client conflicts, like reporting child abuse or dual relationships, can be challenging. Sometimes their profession may put therapists in a dilemma of protecting patients’ feelings or abiding by ethical standards.


Due to confidentiality limits, therapists may not talk about their work-related stress. They can feel isolated with troubling worries and thoughts. In addition, many therapists work in private practice, so they don’t have a coworker to discuss their problematic issues with.

Reluctant and Difficult Clients

Sometimes patients may be struggling with problems that cause severe interpersonal challenges. Unlike other professions, however, therapists must attend to such clients, even when their conduct is out of line. Also, guidelines restrict therapists from abandoning their clients, especially if a therapeutic relationship has already been established.

As a result, relationships with difficult clients can affect therapists before the ethical transfer or termination threshold is met.

Work-Life Imbalance

In the same way that therapists can’t disclose their patients’ confidential details, they also can’t discuss their personal lives with clients. So, therapists will not tell their clients if they have an issue that may see the postponement of therapy sessions. While such professionalism is required, therapists must maintain neutrality, which may lead to strain.

Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue occurs when mental health professionals take on the suffering of clients experiencing severe trauma or stress. It happens when clinicians have a desire to help relieve their emotional pain, leading to the need for more resources and long hours.

Compassion fatigue may arise from situations such as the following:

Compassion fatigue may interfere with your productivity. It may manifest in various ways, including addiction, insomnia, detachment, and mood swings.

How Do You Know If You Need Therapy?

Signs may lurk beneath your usual behavior or precede sudden behavioral change. The earlier you identify these signs and symptoms, the sooner you can get help to address them. The American Psychological Association suggests that you consider therapy if:

Other telltales that you need therapy include the following:

You Don’t Feel Like You

Experiencing unmanageable anger, sadness, or hopelessness can indicate a severe mental illness that treatment can alleviate. 

Other changes to your regular habits and behaviors could include sleeping too much or too little, withdrawing from friends and family, or experiencing a change in eating habits. 

You could also notice heavy personal distress when attending to a client.

You Are Beginning to Abuse Yourself

While it’s not wrong to be involved in activities like drinking, doing it to cope with your issues can be detrimental. In addition, if you feel it’s challenging to manage these behaviors, it may be time to see a mental health counselor.

Your Passion Has Reduced or Completely Lost

Losing interest in what you do is a red flag you should never ignore. If your emotions and experiences affect your interests, then it’s essential you see a professional counselor.

Grief and Personal History Are the Norms

Listening to your clients’ stories of trauma, neglect, or abuse may bring back memories of similar situations in your life. Your well-being and clinical work can also be affected if you haven’t dealt with your personal history or grief. You may need help and guidance from another mental health professional to help you with these emotional distresses.

You Are Extremely Overwhelmed

Handling too many clients can be extremely overwhelming and stressful. While you want to help as many patients as possible, too much of it may adversely affect your health. You may have problems concentrating or remembering what your clients share.

In addition, too much stress may lead to accelerated cognitive decline in the long run. Therapy can help you overcome various stressors and feelings of overwhelm, for example, trauma and anxiety.

Therapy for Therapists: Why It Matters

“A therapist’s work can be challenging. We listen to our clients’ difficult and sometimes traumatizing experiences daily,” says Rick Melton, a licensed clinical social worker at Grow Therapy. “We also have personal issues we would want to work through. Just because we are trained doesn’t mean we don’t need help. In fact, our job puts us at a higher risk of emotional distress; we need just as much [help], if not more, than every other person.”

Just because we are trained doesn't mean we don't need help.

- Rick Melton, LCSW

Mental health professionals can significantly benefit from neutral, supportive talk therapy. For instance, therapy is an opportunity to get help from understanding colleagues. Working with an LMHC who knows the kind of challenges you face can provide adequate comfort and support. Furthermore, they can help you develop strong coping skills and maintain good insight and self-care.

Therapy also helps you efficiently process your patients’ feelings and thoughts. Listening to heavy-going problems faced by your clients can weigh on you. However, support from another professional can help you to better process what you hear from clients, preserving your own mental health.

Additionally, counseling psychology can help you deal with personal problems. Therapy allows you to reflect on your blind spots, base instincts, and neuroses. Furthermore, it enables you to confront your mental health issues, learn to accept feedback, and solidify your professional identity. As a result, the risk of harming your clients is reduced.

Therapy also improves self-awareness. Understanding your triggers and blind spots boosts personal development and prevents biases affecting how you relate to patients. Mental health professionals can help you recognize and address these biases, making you the best version of yourself for your clients.

Finally, seeking therapy as a therapist is an excellent way of destigmatizing it. When your clients know you also go to therapy, it helps normalize it. Additionally, your relationship with clients will strengthen if they understand that you also have challenges and need support.

How to Choose the Right Therapist

The number of psychotherapists across the United States is constantly growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of psychologists is expected to increase by six percent by 2031. With many therapists to choose from, finding the right one for you can be overwhelming. 

In addition to ensuring the requisite certifications and licensure are present, you can choose a good therapist by:

Identify Your Goals

Understanding what you need from a therapy session is essential. For example, if you are struggling with mental health conditions, look for a therapist specializing in mental health. Consider family therapy if your problems have also affected your relationship with family members.

Further, if you’ve found that cognitive behavioral therapy or EMDR has worked for others facing similar issues, consider finding a professional specializing in this type of therapy.

Utilize Your Network

Seeking help from other mental healthcare professionals can help you secure the right one for your needs. They can contact their professional network to connect you with a therapist specializing in your unique needs. National associations, helplines, and networks can also help you secure a therapist for a specific mental health problem.

Consider Cultural Preferences

Just like with your clients, a relationship with your therapist will play a vital role in the success of the treatment. So, ensure the therapist you are choosing fits your cultural preferences. For example, you can consider their age, religious affiliations, and gender. You can use Grow Therapy to filter by these specifications and get a curated list of results who meet your desired requisites.

Use Reliable Online Directories

Online directories and search filters like Grow Therapy allow you to choose a therapist based on your needs, insurance provider, and location. You can also share information on what issues you are looking to get treated to narrow your results down further.

Ask Questions

Previous clients have probably asked you questions before hiring you. Since you are now the patient, it should be no different with you. Asking questions during consultation — whether in person or online — can help you decide whether you want to continue with the therapist’s approach to clinical psychology.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness suggests the following 3 your psychotherapist:

Be sure to get clear communication from the therapist when asking these questions. Also, put your feelings about their responses into consideration. Ensure you have hired a therapist who wants the best for you, just like you do for your patients. 

Find a Suitable Therapist Today

Therapists can encounter challenges affecting their personal and professional lives just like everyone else. However, if this happens to you, you may ask yourself: Do therapists have therapists? Seeking support from other therapists can help maintain your mental health and keep you from burning out in your career.

Understanding common challenges you’re likely to face, and being aware of the signs, can help address them early. So, if you have problems in your personal and professional life, it’s essential you seek help from a professional counselor. They can help you overcome your troubles and improve your performance and productivity as a therapist.


  • Therapists in training may also encounter mental health issues and feelings of inadequacy that may make it necessary to seek professional support.

  • Therapists may unknowingly treat clients in a manner rooted in their own unexamined issues. Therapists can recognize and reflect on these through counseling.

About the author
Alan Deibel, LCPC

Alan Deibel is a licensed clinical professional counselor with over 12 years of experience who specializes in ADHD, addiction, anxiety, trauma, and PTSD.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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