‘I suffer from Imposter syndrome’
is a phase you sometimes hear from counsellors who feel they are acting in their role as a counsellor. Their confidence is low and they start to doubt their performance as a counsellor. This is sometimes more prominent in newly qualified counsellors or those in private counsellors.
Does that resonate with you? Counsellors sometimes feel they are not a good enough counsellor. This is known as imposter syndrome.
What is imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and feels like a fraud despite evidence of their success. Counsellors can often feel like they are not qualified sufficiently to help their clients or that they are not good enough to do their job. It is a phenomenon that not only affects counsellors but other individuals who struggle within their work. I am sure we can all think of a client who often says ‘I am not good enough?’ Imposter syndrome can result in counsellors feeling isolated and with feelings of shame. Addressing it is important to overcome the negative feelings and to feel good at you what you do.
What are the techniques to help you feel good enough?
1. Acknowledge and accept your feelings
Firstly, counsellors can deal with imposter syndrome by acknowledging and accepting their feelings. It is important for you as a counsellor to acknowledge that these feelings are common and can be experienced by others. Many counsellors experience imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. It may feel more acute during a difficult time in their life or when you are feeling vulnerable or you if you they struggling working with a client. By acknowledging and accepting these feelings, counsellors can begin to address them and move forward. And remember, ‘you are good enough’.
2. Seek Support
If you feel you are experiencing imposter syndrome than seek support from peers or your supervisor.. Talking to others who have experienced imposter syndrome can help you feel less alone and provide you with a sense of perspective. Many counsellors find talking about their imposter syndrome in a safe social media group can help (an example, is good enough counsellors), as shared experience can make it feel less daunting. It gives them a place to discuss their experience and to receive feedback. If you feel social media group is not a safe environment or not for you, then you can always find a supportive environment in a peer supervision group or just talking to another peer. Another way of helping you deal with imposter syndrome is to talk to your supervisor. Your Supervisor will offer guidance and feedback, which can help you develop the confidence in your abilities.
3. What does the evidence tell you?
Another strategy for dealing with imposter syndrome is to focus on your evidence-based practice. Focus on clients that have given you positive feedback or remember a session that went well. That is evidence you are good enough. Remembering what you do well, will help counteract the feelings of imposter syndrome, as well as provide you with a sense of purpose and direction. This will help you build your self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as counteract feelings of self-doubt. Don’t forget practicing self-care and maintaining a healthy work-life balance can help you feel more grounded and centred.
4. Keep up to date with CPD
Seeking additional training or education to increase you skills and knowledge can help counteract feelings of inadequacy and provide you with a sense of purpose and direction. Continuing education and professional development helps you stay up-to-date with the latest research and best practices in the field, which can improve the quality of care you provide to their clients. It is also a requirement of the BACP Ethical Framework to keep up to date with personal development.
In conclusion, imposter syndrome is a common experience for many counsellors. However, there are strategies that counsellors can use to deal with these feelings and overcome imposter syndrome. Acknowledging and accepting these feelings, seeking support from colleagues or supervisors, building self-esteem and self-confidence, and seeking additional training or education can all help counsellors feel more confident and effective in their work.