Jennifer Rollin speaks with Jesse Matthews, Psy.D. on balancing life and work in private practice.

Jennifer: What kind of therapy do you practice?

Jesse: I provide therapy to adolescents and adults as well as couples for a wide range of issues, but specializing in: substance abuse, depression, anxiety, ADHD and relationships. I have an integrative therapy style, combining cognitive-behavioral (CBT) and insight-oriented techniques.

Jennifer: How long have you been in private practice?

Jesse: I have been in private practice for five years.

Jennifer: What are some things that you wish you knew about work/life balance when starting out in private practice?

Jesse: Before starting in private practice, I knew I would need to work nights, but not every night. I’m working on filling up my daytime caseload in order to be able to scale back on evenings, to be home for dinner at least twice a week.

I also wish I had a bit more (any) business training in order to consistently charge what my time was worth and to not be overly flexible when patients cancel or don’t show for appointments.

Jennifer: How do you ensure that you find a good balance between work/life?

Jesse: As a private practitioner, I’ve embraced the term work/life integration, in addition to balance.

This means I have designated work hours, but I work outside of them when I need to- completing paperwork, taking phone calls, and writing or building my business.

In this line of work, I just haven’t found it possible to work 9-5. On the other hand, I’m conscious of setting boundaries, like putting my phone or computer away when I am having family time, not feeling like I need to respond to every call or message right away or taking days off here and there.

I also don’t schedule clients when it’s not convenient or practical, such as Saturdays when we typically have a lot of plans. And outside of work, I try to be active and to have a range of activities. I never wanted to be a workaholic or someone who only works, watches TV, and sleeps.

I make an effort to make time for my wife and children, as well as to set aside time for myself. It always requires flexibility. In terms of regular routine. I wake up early and exercise and get the kids off to school before going to work for the day. If I have time during the day, I run errands or meet my wife for coffee or lunch.

And at night, I’m usually working, but will pick up one of my children at sports practice if needed before going home. Sometimes, I do work at night, but ideally I’ll hang out with the kids or my wife and watch a TV show before going to bed. I’m careful not to go to bed too late so I’ll be able to wake up early again the next day. Then, I try to be active on the weekends, keeping up with work when needed, but really trying to focus on my family or doing things I like to do.

 Jennifer: What are some of your favorite regular self-care strategies?

Jesse:  Run or go to the gym, schedule free time during my day to catch up, run errands, take a break or breathe, listen to music or podcasts, read; talk to a friend or my wife, go and get a cup of coffee or go out to lunch

Jennifer: What do you share with clients who are struggling with juggling work and other responsibilities?

Jesse: First, I try to understand what their life is like in terms of job, responsibilities, and relationships, as well as their interests, goals, and support network. I would also want to know about how they have been trying to find a work/life balance. I usually educate them on concepts like work/life balance and work/life integration, get their thoughts on these and talk about what has and what has not worked for them and their lifestyle.

I would also educate them on balance or integration being a process and not an end state. Some days or weeks we do really well, while sometimes we don’t. And sometimes it’s not our fault, such as busy times of year for work or families. I try to get clients to develop a plan and strategies that work for them, as well as sometimes on a more realistic perspective on work/life balance looks like for them.