Counseling and therapy is a very intense field in which the person who has to fulfill the role of a therapist is exposed to the problems and traumas of multiple people in the same day; day after day. Imagine providing therapy to at least six clients back to back, on a daily basis and with just a gap of ten minutes or so between each individual session. Each client takes his most intimate and sensitive problems to the therapy session and speaks about them elaborately and at length. The varied emotions that come forth from the clients' side (which may range from a prolonged bout of tears to a powerful burst of anger) are an additional factor that make therapy an overwhelming experience for the therapist as well.
In this field, dealing with clients' emotions and trauma is inevitable; If a specialist does not take time out to deal with their own feelings, practicing therapy is likely to take its toll on their emotional and mental health. A full work-week of conducting therapeutic sessions for others often leaves the one on the listening end feeling rather raw and numb. Naturally, one can not heal others when they themselves are emotionally disturbed and are unable to manage their thoughts and feelings well enough to be able to help others.
Often (especially when a person is a novice in this highly difficult and complex field of therapy and counseling) clients 'stories tend to trigger a flow of traumatic memories in a therapist of own mind which may interfere with clients' healing processes without the therapist handles it in a professional way. However, this does not mean that a counselor is required to suppress their own feelings. While there is a necessity for a therapist to contain their own conflicts or struggles within themselves during a therapy session; instead of suppressing feelings, therapists themselves seek therapy and are required to be under the supervision of an experienced and highly qualified PhD who practices therapy.
Supervision does not mean that the supervisor will be sitting in on the sessions taken by the person being supervised. It means that on a weekly or monthly basis (or as per individual needs), the supervisor will give a “therapy session” to the practicing therapist who is under their supervision.
During this supervisor session, the tables turn and a therapist gets the chance to be treated like a client; a much-needed opportunity to relate all the feelings and emotions that have built up over the time that elapsed since their previous therapy session with their own personal therapist ie their supervisor. However, this can be tricky in terms of confidentiality as no therapist is allowed to speak of clients by name and disclose their concerns to ANY third person, including their supervisor. Neverheless, it is considered ethical to share specific incidences that a client spoke of which caused the therapist to feel overwhelmed provided that the identities of clients' are not disclosed.
Furthermore, in order to respect the privacy of every client who the therapist has seen before going into supervision, it is advised that clients' stories do not become the subject of speculation during the supervisory session. Conversely, the subject of speculation should ideally be “the feelings, thoughts and emotions” that the therapist sentenced upon hearing particular incidences that the client shared, as opposed to discussing the entire history and life of any client.
If a person has recently qualified to practice therapy, it takes a while before they learn to contain their own feelings while taking a session. However after continuous practice, one becomes attuned to the idea of simply being on the listening end and helping the client overcome traumatic feelings without getting overwhelmed themselves. The process of supervision becomes natural and the therapist too relieves all stress, consequentially the therapist is able to develop enough emotional resilience to be able to provide quality therapy to those who suffer.