Thanks to Jamie Stacks, LPC for this guest post. To learn more about Jamie, check out her bio at the end of the article.
As a helping professional you wanted to make a difference, you were enthusiastic and ready to take on the world one client at a time. You had dreams, ideals and visions. Then you discovered paperwork, productivity requirements, the emotional energy therapy takes and all the “other stuff” they didn’t teach you in grad school. You are tired and frustrated. You feel overwhelmed, like you will never catch up or make a difference. You are not able to fully be there for your clients, yourself or your family.
What is missing? Self-care is often the answer- one of the biggest ideas that as helping professionals and advocates of holistic healthy living you preach to your clients- you forget to practice. Learning to live with intention and renew the energy you need to take care of your family, your clients and most importantly – YOU is self-care.
We all need to practice self-care and in the life of a helping professional the act of self-care including total mind-body-spirit health becomes even more vital. As therapists, social workers, psychologists and other helping professionals we see and hear a great deal of trauma and extreme tragic stories. The idea of compassion-fatigue has been around for a while now. Compassion fatigue is estimated to affect between 15 and 85 per cent of health-care workers, and predominates in first responders, emergency medicine professionals and those involved with psychiatric patients and the terminally ill (Hooper, Craig, Janvrin, Wetsel & Reimels, 2010; Beck, 2011).
Self-care and self-compassion are vital to living a fulfilled life, however when I talk with clients, friends, family and especially colleagues and ask them what their self-care program is, they tend to look at me blankly. Most people do not have an active, living and thriving self-care program.