Enjoying weekends and time out isn’t just a matter of personal preference. It’s important to rest, connect and recreate to restore our own emotional balance and effectiveness. I know for me, that I have to laugh over the weekend because, at work, the energy and emotions we face as therapists can be so heavy.
I need to focus in on some of the lighter and enjoyable sides of life with family, friends and my choice of activities. Laughing is so re-energizing!
What if your life outside of work is not so fulfilling? One of our professional challenges is to be able to be fully present in the present, feel enjoyment and ensure we get that relaxation we need.
This is why some form of support from colleagues and consultation with colleagues is very important. All therapists are required to have done their own therapeutic work on their own issues. I believe that to be effective, each of us has to sit in that client chair to know what it feels like — and to know we can keep getting the support we need.
Provide for Your Education and Professional Support
Beyond our formal education, it is important to have resources that support you professionally and personally, and enable you to address key issues for you.
Making sure you feel well educated and well supported is part of good self-care. This gives you confidence with new ideas to bring to treatment.
Clinical consultation is so important because every professional (I can think of no exceptions) needs this support on a regular basis:
- To run ideas past another professional
- To learn something new
- To have a safe place to work on issues triggered for the therapist (countertransference)
Good clinical consultation (discussed in its own article) is a combination of suggestions (“Here are some approaches to think about with your clients”), and access to support around countertransferential issues.
The Outcome of Good Self-Care Strategies for Clinicians
When it comes to strategies for self-care, each clinician will find a balance of activities that works for them. Some activities will be part of each day’s routine. Some will be weekly, some monthly. For example, now in my 17th year of clinical work, I still gift myself clinical consultations two to three times a month or just when I need it!
I believe that every therapist needs a deliberate program of self-care. Not only does it guard against burnout. It enables us to work at our best, to continue to improve our skills and see better client outcomes, and ultimately enjoy this challenging and deeply rewarding work to the fullest.
Bessell Van der Kolk speaks about his career and book, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma video
“The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (book)” by Bessel van der Kolk MD
Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy Training and Education, Inc.
Workshops by Janina Fisher and colleagues
Sidran Institute, resources for traumatic stress education and advocacy
“Healthy Boundaries: When You Need Them, How to Create Them and How to Make Them Work for You (article)” by Robyn Brickel
“Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation (book)” by Daniel Siegel
Self-Compassion (website) by Dr. Kristin Neff
Tara Brach: Meditation, Emotional Healing, and Spiritual Awakening (website)
“What Is Good Self-Care and Why You Deserve It” (article) by Robyn Brickel
Therapist picture fro Shutterstock.