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Good Self-Care for Therapists

Hitting “Reset”

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.

 

More Resources

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

Continuing Education

Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy Training and Education, Inc.

Workshops by Janina Fisher and colleagues

Sidran Institute, resources for traumatic stress education and advocacy
Self-Care

Health Journeys

“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.

 

Good Self-Care for Therapists


Robyn Brickel, MA, LMFT

Robyn E. Brickel MA, LMFT, is the founder and director of Brickel and Associates, LLC in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, which she established in 1999. Her insights for parent and teens appear in interviews in The Washington Post, and Washington Parent magazine, and she presents educational workshops for clinicians on the treatment of adolescent substance abuse and trauma. Her counseling and psychoeducational services provide treatment for recovery from trauma and/or abuse, including dissociation; addictions; adult children of alcoholics (ACOA) issues; body image issues and eating disorders; self-harming behaviors, including emotional intensity and instability; anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders; challenged family systems; chronic illness; co-dependency; dysfunctional relationships; life transitions; loss and bereavement; relationship distress; self esteem; GLBTQ and sexual identity issues/struggles; and stress reduction. She is a trained trauma and addictions therapist who has helped countless clients make and maintain positive changes in their lives. To learn more about Robyn E. Brickel, visit her website.

 

APA Reference
Brickel, R. (2019). Good Self-Care for Therapists. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 14, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/good-self-care-for-therapists/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Sep 2019
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Sep 2019
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.