Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST
One class that needs to be added to our master’s level training program is navigating and managing personal relationships for therapist. We spend countless hours learning how to help our clients improve their relationships, but often don’t work on our own.
Dating can be difficult especially as a therapist. Whether you meet someone online, introduced as a friend, or naturally meet a person you find interesting, be sure to keep the following in mind.
If you see drama and chaos run the other way
As a therapist, you help individuals, couples, and families overcome unhealthiness and chaos. You spend several hours per day assisting individuals to overcome their problems and have a more balanced life.
This is why you have to minimize drama and chaos in your personal life. You can’t serve the clients you care about if you are surrounded by chaos 24/7. If a potential partner has a lot of drama in their lives, you may need to run the other way. You don’t need it nor do you have time for it. It may take a few dates to realize this, but when you do then decide to take action so that you can remain healthy.
Don’t wear your clinical hat on dates
You spend the majority of your time during the day helping people solve their problems. When you leave work, then you need to leave your clinical hat. Don’t play the therapist role when you are on a date. Your date is already wondering if you are trying to ‘psychoanalyze’ them. Assure them that you aren’t doing this and avoid using therapy lingo.
Be the amazing person you are and separate yourself from your job. Even though your career is a big part of your identity, you are more than just a clinician. Tell them about your interest, hobbies, and passions in life. Don’t forget to ask them about their life and what they enjoy. This will help you from over-focusing on work.
Don’t jump to a conclusion quickly
You know the DSM-5 from front to back, which means that you can quickly see behaviors and the diagnosis that are attached to them. This is a big problem for therapists in the dating world. Your date may share with you things that lead you to automatically recall diagnosis criteria, which may drive you to quickly back away.
You don’t have to ignore your concern but be sure you see the whole picture and not pushing away an exciting person based on one conversation. Don’t quickly get triggered because of a date’s response that you assume may be a deeper issue. If you are interested in them, get to know them better before concluding that their problem may be a turn-off.
Your busy work schedule may not leave a lot of extra time to date, so you need to schedule time for this part of your life if this is something you are interested in doing. Don’t feel pressured by people that you need to put yourself out there in the dating world. However, if you want to explore your options, don’t be afraid to begin the process of meeting new people.