How and/or why did you become a therapist?
My parents say that I have always been listening to people – from my friends when i was young to the elderly in a nursing home when i was in high school to parents when i was teaching parenting classes in my 20’s. So, they were not surprised to learn that I wanted to pursue a psychology degree in undergrad and a master’s in social work afterwards. I love to solve all kinds of problems and I am a very outgoing person, so I think the field of therapy was a natural one for me.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?
Being able to create your own schedule, helping people make breakthroughs in their lives, listening to the stories and understanding what’s necessary to untangle the knots, always being busy and never being bored!
What’s unique or special in your background or approach to interpersonal relationships?
I don’t think i have anything different to offer than anyone else, other than an intact family of origin that is very loving and close. Many people go into this field to resolve conflict from their families and childhoods and I feel blessed that that is not the case with me. I draw on a lot of positive communication from my 5 siblings, incredible parenting skills from my parents and my Christian faith that ties it all together.
What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?
There is a lot more trauma in this world than we know and people who live with it don’t even realize the things they have endured or the things that they say to themselves to manage it on a daily basis. If we can remember that each one of us has a past and a story and probably something rough that they are dealing with, maybe it will make us more compassionate and understanding w/each other.
What are some of the biggest mistakes a therapist or patient can make?
Coming to therapy when you are not ready or because someone else thinks you should be there is usually a recipe for an unhappy and unsuccessful experience. As a therapist, taking on issues and clients that you are not prepared to treat is also not recommended unless you are being carefully supervised and are steadily working on improving your skills and knowledge. Also, tasking clients with certain things like limit setting and standing up for yourself and then not modeling that isn’t helpful. The last thing a therapist should avoid doing is talking too much about themselves. Only if the information is relevant and useful to the client should you say it. Otherwise, remember that it’s not about you and they probably don’t need to hear about your personal situation.
You can learn more about Deborah B. Knoll at https://www.debbiebknoll.com.