The Importance of Self-Care For Therapists
Posted on 12th April 2023 at 21:57
Read below my new article published in Brainz Magazine.
Let’s talk about the importance of self-care for therapists.
“Being a therapist is a bit like being a singer—the instrument is ourselves. We are responsible for the sound, the tenor, the timbre, the vibrato, and the tone. And because of that, we need to keep our instrument, our presence, well cared for.”
Ashley Davis Bush, Simple Self-Care for Therapists: Restorative Practices to Weave Through Your Workday
Every morning upon awakening, I give thanks, and I count my blessings. I give thanks and I express my gratitude to have found my soul's purpose and true calling.
I feel truly blessed to be honouring what my soul had been asking for so long.
I am honoured to be an empowerment and trauma specialist. I am a fully registered and accredited multi award-winning strategic hypnotherapist, mind coach, Law of Attraction coach, as well as a psychic-medium and intuitive development mentor based in Dublin, Ireland.
I help people get empowered, supercharge their confidence and self-esteem, overcome their limiting beliefs as well as manage anxiety and symptoms of traumatic experiences and heal their attachment wounds and their inner child and tap into their spiritual abilities through my therapy and coaching and as well through my spiritual work.
As a hypnotherapist, I believe I work in a profession that is fantastically placed to help people align with what they really desire in life, appreciate themselves, and see their true potential.
My work being my passion and my true calling, it has happened quite a few times over the last couple of years that I could not draw the limit between my ‘working time’ and my ‘personal time’. Of course, being able to do what we love and to love what we do is a real privilege.
It is crucial that we know when to step back and look after ourselves and meet our own needs. And it has been a real learning curve for me, and I now fully understand the importance of self-care for therapists.
Self-care is the act of caring for yourself and making a conscious effort to do things you enjoy and will benefit from. It is about being aware of your health, identifying your needs, and taking steps to meet them.
Self-care is our way of prioritising mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. It can both help manage symptoms of mental illness and help to improve overall well-being.
It sounds simple, looking after yourself - after all, don’t you do that every day? But self-care can be more than eating, drinking, and showering. Self-care can be whatever you need it to be, but you have to listen to your body and soul to truly understand what they need.
We all have different requirements for self-care, but in general, the goals of self-care are to find a state of good physical, mental and spiritual health, reduce stress, meet emotional needs, maintain a balance between our personal and professional lives.
Self-care is anything but a selfish act. If we do not take care of our own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs before attempting to resolve those of others, we may begin to experience a decline in our own physical, emotional, or spiritual state. The people who care for others, either professionally or in their personal life, may find themselves especially drained if they do not devote enough time to self-care. Once we have met our own needs, we find ourselves better able to assist others in meeting their own needs.
The importance of self-care
While you are supporting and helping someone who may be in crisis, it is especially important for you to also take care of yourself. Practicing self-care does not mean you are choosing yourself over your loved ones. It means that you are simply being mindful of your own needs, so you are better able to support the people you care about. When you take care of yourself and are not stressed, you are better able to meet the needs of others. Remember that we cannot pour from an empty cup. We must make sure that our cup is full and even overflowing so we can be of help to others around us.
Self-care for therapists
And when it comes to us therapists, self-care is key and this cannot be stressed enough.
Self-care behaviours may also help mental health professionals and other health care providers avoid compassion fatigue, which can often result from work in a high-stress or traumatic environment and may lead to self-doubt, self-blame, and ethical or other complications.
Self-care for therapists. What a concept. Whether you are in private practice working for yourself, working in a clinical environment, or working in an organization providing services, this one is all about us therapists. This is our reminder to refill our bucket or our cup. It is time to pause and reflect and how you can cater to your own needs.
Self-care is an important topic in mental health. As therapists, we are the ones who help others with their problems, but we often neglect ourselves when it comes to self-care. It is time for us therapists to learn how self-care can help us be productive and efficient with our client as well as have balance in our personal life.
As therapists, we understand the importance of self-care. We say it day in and day out to our clients and peers. And then, we often completely fail to live it. We are all familiar with the saying, ‘practice what you preach’, even though we do not always remember to do so. This is your reminder that self-care for us therapists is not optional. Being a therapist may not be the most physically demanding jobs on a daily basis; however, mental and emotional fatigue are real. Therapists can become exhausted from listening to other people’s problems all the time. It does not mean they do not care or want to help – this is their job after all!
But the constant task and work of focusing on others’ needs is extremely demanding and can lead to therapist burnout.
Self-care for therapists is a topic frequently discussed, but often gets dismissed and difficult to pursue in a society that seemingly values hard work and productivity over everything. While I fully agree that pushing ourselves can be good for us at times, we need to be aware of our personal limitations and aim for a happy and healthy balance. And we must ensure that we reach that balance in all areas of our life. Not just work. When we push too hard in one area, other areas begin to suffer, with a possibility of leading to therapist burnout.
Therapists and caregivers everywhere must attend to their own well-being and health, or they will be at risk for personal suffering as well as professional disruptions that stem from burnout and compassion fatigue.
What is therapist burnout?
Therapist burnout is an issue faced by many therapists. Therapist burnout occurs when therapists are faced with chronic stressors, day after day, with no chance to reset and recharge. When a therapist is not able to recover from these ongoing stressors, they begin to emotionally, mentally, and even physically shut down. They may notice signs of exhaustion, apathy, or negativity towards their work, and practicing endless empathy and patience feels impossible...
If left unchecked, emotional distress and high levels of stress can contribute to burnout, leaving you feeling exhausted, drained, and unable to keep up with the demands of running your practice.
Burnout can be prevented through self-care as well as cognitive strategies for managing work requirements, smaller caseloads, more flexibility, and less paperwork.
Some common signs of therapist burnout include:
Emotional exhaustion: low mood, and compassion fatigue
A decreased sense of personal accomplishment and feelings of ineffectiveness or
Depersonalization toward clients
Feeling less empathetic, more impatient, or more judgmental toward clients
Difficulty managing your workload or functioning in daily life
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
Relief when a client cancels
Beginning sessions late or ending sessions early
Feeling burdened by client trauma
Physical symptoms, including physical exhaustion, headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments
Increased pessimism, cynicism, or difficulty maintaining an optimistic state of mind
Feeling like there is never enough time
Feeling overwhelmed, chronically tired, or overextended
Emotional distress is a normal part of life, and all therapists experience mental health concerns
from time to time. Working with clients mismatched to your skills and specialties, dealing with paperwork, putting in long hours, and juggling your personal life, working as a mental health provider creates unique stressors, putting therapists at a high risk of burnout.
Studies estimate that anywhere between 21 percent and 61 percent of mental health practitioners experience signs of burnout (Morse et al., 2012).
Top self-Care tips to prevent therapist burnout
Check in with yourself
Take time each day to evaluate whether your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are being met and if there are steps you can take to tend to them. This will look different for everyone.
Prioritize what makes you happy
The drive to achieve and help others is behind every good therapist. While this drive is important, it must be kept in balance. Teaching others to live in healthy ways can be both fulfilling and draining. It is easy to justify cutting off hobbies, leisure time, and fun activities when you are feeling tired. However, when is the last time you did something just for fun? When did you last take a vacation and leave your work at home?
Disconnect, recharge, renew, and replenish
In our increasingly digital world, it seems next to impossible to get away from the constant notifications, urgent emails, or text messages. Yet, this is exactly what many of us therapists need to do for our own wellbeing. Get into the habit of scheduling a disconnect from technology every week and make that time dedicated to doing something you enjoy without allowing work disruptions. Leave your work phone at home.
Turn off email and text notifications. Introduce automation in your business: automated scheduling, etc.
The world will not stop turning because you did not personally answer messages for a few hours. Put it on your calendar, make it a firm appointment with yourself and have fun. You will be far more able to contribute to your own life and the world when you practice self-care for therapists.
A great way to recharge, renew and replenish is to spend some tech-free time in nature.
Carve out time for self-care
What does self-care mean to you? It could include nutritious food, restorative sleep, exercise routines, spending meaningful time with people you trust, practicing mindfulness, or carving out time that cannot be intruded upon by sessions or other demands.
Self-compassion is a crucial self-care tool for mental health providers. We can start by giving ourselves the same permission we give our clients to set expectations, recognize and acknowledge our emotions without judgment, and feel overwhelmed at times. You are not alone—most of us feel this way sometimes.
Reach Out for Support
As passionate and committed therapists, it is easy for us to spend our time only speaking to clients and working. So, remember to reach out to your social support, the people who know you well and you trust. This will help you unwind and be your genuine self.
Realizing you are not alone and that at least one person cares about you can make all the difference to your mental health, especially if you are going through a tough time.
Let yourself be vulnerable, if for no other reason than to get out of your own head when you are feeling stuck. It does not help to pretend you are OK when you are not.
As providers, we may think we should be able to manage it all, but that is an unrealistic expectation for any human being. Focusing on our clients’ needs and restraining our own feelings often leaves little room for attending to our own needs. We need people we can share our honest feelings with, and who listen to us the way we listen to others. While friends and loved ones can help, a skilled mental health professional can more effectively support your personal and professional growth.
People who work in mental health know how important self-care is. However, it is still a topic that needs to be discussed and learned about more often! Therapists need to take some time for themselves and focus on their well-being.
Hope this gives you an overview and a better understanding of the importance of self-care for hypnotherapists.
Share this post: