1st Edition

The Therapist's Journey From Meeting Your First Client to Finding Your Life’s Work

By Robert Taibbi Copyright 2023

    Psychotherapists just starting out in the field often have more questions than answers: "Am I really cut out for this job?" "Where do I want my career to be heading?" "How do I deal with my reactions to clients, or theirs to me?" In this empathic book, seasoned therapist and supervisor Robert Taibbi speaks directly to new clinicians about the world of work and the workplace, the arc of careers, and the keys to staying creative and energized. The book can be read sequentially or readers can dip into any of the 59 concise chapters on such topics as honing clinical skills, first aid when sessions go off the rails, supervision problems, transitioning into private practice, and how to be wise. Insightful reflection questions are woven throughout.

    See also other essential resources for new clinicians--Becoming a Therapist, Second Edition, by Suzanne Bender and Edward Messner, which covers what to say and why, starting from the very first session, and The Mental Health Clinician's Workbook, by James Morrison, which takes a learn-by-doing approach to building diagnostic skills.

    I. Starting Out
    1. Why Do You Want to Be a Therapist? A Question & Answer in Two Parts
    2. Reflections: My Becoming a Therapist
    3. Why Doing Therapy is Hard Work
    4. Transitions: From the Academic to the Agency World
    5. Piling On: Common Clinical Challenges
    6. Reflections: My First Year
    II. Your Work
    7. Six Ways to Build Rapport
    8. Be the Adult
    9. What Can’t You Do?
    10. Coping with Anxiety: Approach, Avoid, or Bind?
    11. The Relationship Triangle
    12. Making the Most of Parallel Process
    13. Shifting Focus: How Therapy is Different from Normal Conversation
    14. Therapy’s Many Voices
    15. Therapy as a Pragmatic Sport
    16. Creative Formats: Thinking Outside the Box
    17. Therapy as Performance
    18. Handling Self-Disclosure
    19. Sounds of Silence
    20. Everything to Know About Resistance
    21. Getting on Track and Staying There
    22. Changing the Emotional Climate
    23. The Challenge of Couple Therapy
    24. Three Big Obstacles in Relationships
    25. Children, Families, and Therapy
    26. Working with Play
    27. Time to Check In
    28. First Aid for Those Awful Sessions
    29. When a Client Is in Crisis
    30. Working with Clients Who are Different From You
    31. Handling Sexual Attraction: It’s Gonna Happen
    32. Those You Can’t Help
    III. Your Workplace
    33. So, You Don’t Like Your Supervisor?
    34. What Your Supervisor’s World Is Like
    35. Time to Leave Your Therapist?
    36. Clients Are not Vicarious Outlets
    37. When You Don’t Like Your Clients
    38. Working in Challenging Environments
    39. When You're Having a Hard Time
    40. So, What Do You Do All Day?
    41. Organization One: Taking Control of Your Day
    42. Organization Two: Setting Priorities
    IV. Your Career
    43. Your Work: A Job, a Career, a Calling
    44. One Year Out: Moving from Content to Process
    45. Moving On: Coming into Your Power
    46. A Voice of Your Own
    47. How to Use Trainings
    48. When You Outgrow Your Job
    49. Transitions: Clinician to Supervisor
    50. Going Private
    51. Reflections: Looking Back at a Career
    V. You
    52. Are You a Builder or a Discoverer?
    53. Creating a Balanced Life
    54. Getting Closure: Writing to Heal Old Wounds
    55. Reflections: My Big Day in Court
    56. Run Toward What You Fear
    57. Your Life as a Movie
    58. What’s Your Relationship with Your Life?
    59. How to Be Wise


    Robert Taibbi, LCSW, is an experienced clinician, supervisor, and clinical director who has been practicing almost 50 years. He is the author of numerous books, including The Therapist's Journey, Doing Family Therapy, Fourth Edition, and Doing Couple Therapy, Second Edition, as well as over 300 magazine and journal articles, and writes a column titled “Fixing Families” for Psychology Today online. Mr. Taibbi provides training both nationally and internationally in couple therapy, family therapy, brief therapy, and clinical supervision. He has a private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    "This book distills deep clinical wisdom, gained over a lifetime, into a collection of absolute gems. Several dozen (wonderfully short) chapters each capture a vital aspect of transformative therapy. Others provide profoundly helpful morsels of wise, pragmatic guidance for the journey of becoming a good therapist. This book is a gift to beginning therapists."--Patricia L. Papernow, EdD, author of Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships

    "This wise and informative book will teach you what it is like to become a therapist, and how to be a good one. It is chock-full of excellent advice."--Michael P. Nichols, PhD, author of The Lost Art of Listening

    "Every therapist (or would-be) needs this highly personal, insightful, painfully honest book. Taibbi writes in a conversational tone, spilling his own story in engaging detail and inviting the reader to look deeply into their own motives and expectations about the profession. Fifty-nine short chapters make the book useful as a reference work: Don’t like your supervisor? Chapter 33. Sexual feelings for a client? Chapter 31. Thinking about going private? Chapter 50. There is a ton of really good, real-world clinical guidance in this book, but Taibbi also has a deeper focus. He helps readers look inward and be open to their own emotional experience, rather than find ways to 'fix' people. Taibbi emphasizes the intimate, personal nature of the work and the therapist’s full engagement--and that is what makes the book so valuable."--David Waters, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Family Medicine, University of Virginia

    "This comprehensive, wide-ranging, practical guide provides a window into the actual experience of becoming a therapist. Based on decades of clinical experience, it outlines the joys and challenges of the adventure, providing clear guidance, engaging exercises, and sensible dos and don’ts for every step of the way. Simultaneously wise and playful, and full of honest, real-life examples, this is a 'must read' for beginning therapists and their mentors alike."--Ronald D. Siegel, PsyD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, part time, Harvard Medical School-