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  • Writer's pictureDan Berger

My name is Dan and I‘m in therapy

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

How going to therapy is helping me improve as a person and a CEO.

At the urging of someone very important to me and after enduring work-related panic attacks for the first time in my life, I started seeing a therapist this past summer. It was something I have wanted to do for a while and finally found the courage to do.

There were a number of personal issues I was ready to explore: adoption (I was given up when I was 2 days old and adopted at 5 days), loss (my step father’s death in 2003, for example), immigrant identity (I’m a 1.5G immigrant), and having three sets of parents (biological, adoptive, and step).

While all of these experiences have shaped me, they have left scars that needed to be understood and processed.

On the professional side, the highs and lows that come with running a 70-plus person startup can lead to a lot of stress. If I don’t deal with this stress, more panic attacks are on the horizon.

I have been seeing my shrink weekly since August, and I can definitely say it has been one of the best things I have done for developing as a person and a professional. Here’s why:

He has helped me become a better leader. As a result of our interactions, I choose my words more carefully, pay closer attention to body language, listen more intently, make better eye contact, and ask more meaningful questions. These interpersonal improvements are a direct result of observing how he deals with me.

He has helped me identify patterns. There are two kinds of therapists, he once told me: hunters and trappers. Hunters chase down behavioral disorders, while trappers use your own words to bring you where they want you to be. He is definitely a trapper. I get to conclusions about who I am on my own, which helps me learn about myself.

He has helped me understand why I love being a CEO. One of the repercussions of not having a true father figure growing up means I don’t know what it’s like to have a dad. I therefore have a deeper need of playing that role, and running a growing company has allowed me to do that to a certain extent.

He has helped me accept who I am. “You are a work in progress,” he constantly says. Those simple words are powerful because they remind me that I am always working on a better version of myself, the very premise of a Deliberately Developmental Organization.

Everyone should go to therapy, even if they don’t have any immediate issues they want to explore. They will be better for it.

If you are considering it, here are a few tips:

  1. Many therapists comp the first session so that you can test your chemistry with them.

  2. Insurance probably covers it (in network), or at least a part of it (outside of the network).

  3. Take it seriously by having it be a part of your weekly regimen.

I take therapy so seriously that I don’t ever miss it. Sure, it means I have to be away from the office for a few hours every week, but it’s time well spent and an experience that pays off in spades.

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