Polina Zimmerman

This Is The Unedited Truth About Being A Therapist That No One Understands

Some people will never understand. They will never be able to fully grasp the work that therapists do. The work that good therapists do.

A good therapist sits across from a soul that feels weathered and exhausted and they connect deeply with their story. They learn that heart until they are so familiar that they feel it in their own chest. They feel the aches, the breaks, the joys, the triumphs, the average, the mundane, the nothingness, the longing, the desire, the truly satisfied, the love, and the absolutely devastated, and everything in between. They dive deeply into the experiences, truths, traumas, and realities of this soul. They work tirelessly to revive that heart when it has lost it’s will to keep beating. They pour their energy into that soul to remind it that their life is worth living. And then one day, that soul walks out the door for the last time. They walk out with the heart that therapist fostered in their own chest, and the therapist will never feel it again. The therapist can only hope that it stays brave and courageous and strong. They can only hope that soul remembers that it is worthy and it is loved.

For me (an intake specialist who has only one session with a person before they are scheduled with their long-term therapist), I have to sit with a soul that I do not know at all. I am meant to learn them quickly and gently, in hopes to be the initial light they need. I jump down into the hole they feel trapped in, in turn trapping myself. I listen to their pain, their fear, and their hopelessness. Sitting in this hole with them is the only way I can truly understand what they are going through, what they are feeling. It’s the only way I can experience their reality in that moment.

And while I’m hearing their story, I’m also fumbling around in the darkness trying to find anything that might help them see the light above, anything that might give them something to hold on to. It’s my job to connect with their misery, let them know that they are not alone anymore, and also instill a fraction of hope before the journey out begins. Then I pull myself out, drenched in sweat and tears, with nothing but hope that that soul reaches the surface one day.

I walk forward with heavy steps, and then I see the next hole with a soul trapped at the bottom and I jump in.