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Imposter Syndrome within Counselling.


Why can I feel like a fraud? - Counsellors and imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome will affect most of us at some point in our lives. It is very common in high achievers and also women. I know personally I have suffered with Imposter Syndrome at various points in my career as a counsellor and previously when working in aviation.

Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud and it can present in many ways including

Consistent negative self-talk

•Inability to internalise accomplishments

•Obsessing over mistakes and failures

•Feeling of never being good enough

•Overwhelming anxiety of being “found out” as a fraud •Discounting success

•Attributing success to luck

I have found throughout establishing my private practice and discussing more openly with colleagues just how common imposter syndrome is amongst counsellors. The more I sat with it the more sense it made, running a successful counselling practice is based upon us “selling” ourselves, we need clients to earn money and let’s face it there are so many of us out there that clients have the option of choosing, Women are in the majority and there are many societal narratives engrained in women to be a particular way

Counselling can therefore become a breeding ground for Imposter Syndrome to manifest, many are working in practices alone or with minimal peer contact, we see others achievements and then can start comparing or doubting what we are doing, there is little feedback on our work... the list could go on. This can hugely impact our private practice and actually becoming successful by manifesting into areas such as

We have exactly the same feelings, worries and issues as everyone else

Being a counsellor doesn’t mean we miraculously know the secrets to ‘life’! We need to take that pressure off ourself and be more compassionate. Telling ourselves that we should know what to do and that we should feel differently to that of our clients sets us nicely on the path to imposter syndrome and being the fraud that is going to be found out at any moment, when in reality we are human and can and will have the same insecurities as our clients.

How I dealt with imposter syndrome was to seek out therapy for myself to explore this more, I found it hugely beneficial to write out a timeline of all my achievements in life to really acknowledge and validate all that I had done and that it wasn’t attributed to luck it was down to my hard work and determination. I identified I had a very strong ‘ I’m not good enough’ driver and this led to much deeper historical work but I was able to make sense of why I was suffering with Imposter Syndrome.

My recommendations for tackling imposter syndrome are

Draw or write out a timeline of all your achievements in your life. No matter how big or small, list them all....

Seek out your own therapy to explore this more , Talk about your thoughts and feelings, Break the silence as you will not be alone in this feeling. Worry can keep us from ‘admitting’ insecurity’s.

When people give you positive feedback, just say ‘thank you’

Validate yourself: Don’t look for others approval, they may not show it and you might take that as a sign you didn’t succeed. When you know you did well, pat your own back!