Why did I become a psychotherapist?
My friends and clients often ask me, “Why did you become a psychotherapist?” “Isn’t it hard to listen to people’s problems all day long?” Here are some of my answers.
I was privileged to be born to the parents whose love I never questioned. Being the only child and having two highly educated people as parents, I grew up surrounded by books, scientific journals, and the philosophizing of my parents and their learned friends.
Since I was very young, my father – a prominent physicist and philosopher and an author of more than one hundred books – told me stories about the wonders and mysteries of the universe. But most profound were his tales about the inexplicable human mind. These tales mesmerized me, and when I had to choose my profession, the decision emerged naturally – I wanted to be an explorer of the human mind – a psychologist.
When I became an undergraduate student at the department of psychology at Kharkov State University, only twenty five of us were admitted. At the time, programs in psychology in the Soviet Union were few and small. This allowed our professors to exercise some degree of freedom in designing curriculums and us, students – in expressing our views and ideas.
When I graduated from the program, I started teaching a few classes at the same university. I entered the graduate program and began working on my dissertation, but my studies were interrupted by my immigration to the United States.
When in 1991, with my husband and 7-year-old-daughter I stepped onto the US soil, I encountered language and cultural barriers so great, that I thought I would never be able to return to my beloved profession. It took me six years to realize that that was exactly what I needed to do.
Three months following this realization, I was admitted to the doctoral program in counseling psychology at the University of Denver. To this day, I am grateful for being admitted. At the time, my English was so poor that I didn’t understand half of the material taught.
Nevertheless, all the sleepless nights and frequent tears were generously rewarded. Upon graduation, I opened my private practice and was offered an adjunct faculty position at the University of Denver, where I have been a clinical supervisor at the Counseling and Educational Services Clinic ever since.
So why do I love my profession so much? Why was returning to it so sweet despite all the hardships?
Because for me, little can be more interesting, intriguing, and fascinating than the human mind. Throughout my career, I have seen hundreds of people fall into pieces and rise from the ashes all due to the twists and turns of their minds.
However, my greatest professional (and personal!) discovery was not about the mind. It was about another human faculty – the one that tames the mind and allows it to operate at its highest potential – the heart.
What is this mysterious faculty we call “the heart?” I will share some of my revelations in the next post.
Please stay tuned. [/ulplocker]