In my early adulthood I imagined myself being a therapist. Although knowing nothing of what that entailed, I was always a people person and interested in who people were and how they got that way. I remember when in my 20’s, new alternative therapies like Fritz Pearl’s “Gestalt Therapy” and Arthur Janov’s “The Primal Scream” were very popular. Living an alternative lifestyle myself, these new ideas were exciting and very interesting. I particularly took to gestalt therapy. With no training and only a BA in Sociology, I imagined being a good therapist if that is what I decided to study. I also imagined that being a good therapist would be easy for me because of my curious and warm personality.
I never pursued therapy as a profession back then. I had always loved acting and moved to New York in 1980 to pursued that profession.
As an aside, a couple of years ago, I was in a food market and somehow happened to talk to Wallace Shawn, the playwright and actor. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him I was a psychoanalyst. He also asked me what I used to do before that and I told him I had been an actor. Upon hearing this, he stated that being a psychoanalyst and being an actor were very much the same. I thought that was pretty funny. Coming from Wally Shawn, who had appeared in numerous Woody Allen movies, that observation seemed like it belonged in one of those films.
When I eventually went back to school in my 40’s for my long training as a psychotherapist, I quickly learned how little I knew about theory and how it informed being a good and insightful therapist. The more I learned the more I realized how little I knew.