A licensed psychologist, Dr. O’Leary is also the author of the book “Parenting in the Real World,” and offers weekly blog posts and live Q & A sessions on Facebook to help parents successfully manage the demands of the real world while finding joy in their children.
Jennifer: Thanks so much for taking the time out today to talk with me about work/life balance. So tell me a little bit about the what kind of therapy you utilize in your practice?
Stephanie: I practice evidence-based therapy (including CBT and ACT) with children, teens and parents and conduct neuropsychological assessments. (You can find more information at www.WestchesterPsychologicalSvcs.com)
Jennifer: How long have you been in private practice ?
Stephanie: I have been in practice for the past 10 years.
Jennifer: What are some things that you wish you knew about work/life balance when you were first starting out as a therapist in private practice?
Stephanie: When I started, I felt the urge to answer every call that came in regardless of what I was doing at the moment. I also felt that my practice would suffer if I did not accommodate each potential patient’s request for a specific appointment date and time. If I could advise myself in retrospect, I would say that it’s not necessary to pretzel yourself in order to grab the phone, meet a patient at 3 p.m. on Saturdays or open the office extra early for an intake. I wish I had known that the patients who truly are a good fit will find a way to connect and that failing to maintain boundaries regarding time management would only deplete me of my resources.
Jennifer: How do you ensure that you find a good balance between work/life?
Stephanie: Now, I block time off on my work schedule for family time, self-care and also try to be realistic and generous with regard to how much time I will spend traveling or preparing for meeting, sessions or consultations. Building in an extra 10 or 15 minutes to catch up or ensure I have time to eat lunch without rushing also goes a long way.
I’ve made changes in my schedule to work from home several days a week to spend mornings and afternoons with my kids because they grow up so fast.
Jennifer: What are some of your favorite regular self-care strategies?
Stephanie: I am a huge fan of self-care! I unapologetically schedule one hour per week for a massage, acupuncture or reflexology because I know that recharging my batteries is the only way I can continue to be a successful therapist and a happy, healthy individual. In a smaller but also important way.. I also practice saying no on a regular basis if what’s being asked of me isn’t a complete necessity or something that helps me move toward what I value in terms of finding joy and connecting with family.
Jennifer: What do you share with clients who are struggling with jugging work and other responsibilities?
Stephanie: I think it’s important to validate that finding balance is common and to help clients work on dropping judgment around the issue. Devoting time and energy to feeling guilty or feeling like a failure only serves to deplete resources and keep you stuck. Accepting that you feel overwhelmed without judging your situation allows you to prioritize the things you truly need to do and make room for some things that you want to do.
I also try to help clients find ways to ask for and accept help, again without judgment.