People have asked me many times what our group is looking for when bringing on helping professionals who will represent us in the community. My answer is often surprising to people. “Give me the moderately confident therapist every day of the week.”
Research shows that true subject matter experts usually only ever achieve a moderate amount of confidence in their craft. Where as people with exceptionally high levels of confidence actually make more mistakes. This is because subject matter experts truly grasp, understand and respect the gravity and complexity of what they are undertaking.
I have sat in countless group and individual clinical supervisions in my 20 years in the field. I’ve observed an interesting trend during that time. The therapists who questioned if they were “doing enough” for their clients or repeatedly used supervision time to ask for help and learn new ways to approach a client’s symptoms…had the highest praise and best outcomes from their clients. The message I take from this is simple: This is a chronically humbling profession, and those who can appreciate and own that: are the most skilled. Not having that awareness leads to cockiness and less future learning.
So if you are any type of helping professional (e.g. nurse, PT, OT, NP, MD) who feels unsure at times about your craft, know you are not alone. SO many times in sessions I become aware that while I am helping a client navigate being more confident, compassionate and empowered in their own lives; I’m working on those same lessons myself. Throw in there a geopolitical climate riddled with uncertainty and fear and you the perfect recipe for self doubt and anxiety. Acknowledge and thank those sensations when you can. They are part of what makes a good therapist become great. Don’t confuse confidence with prowess. Be a compassionate human first, with yourself and your clients, above all else.