Therapists and Counsellors: Keeping Yourself Supported and Effective
As a psychotherapist or counsellor, you’ll know all about how incredibly rewarding it can be to work as ‘midwife to someone else’s becoming’*.
Your clients trust you – or are trying to trust you – with their deepest, most vulnerable hopes, wishes, fears and wounds.
You work very hard to honour this trust. You endeavour to hold them in their vulnerability, and through the therapeutic relationship and your empathy you aim to help them connect with their inner healing forces.
This is brilliant. You’re doing great work. But…
Your most powerful tool as a therapist – your capacity for empathy – can also be what brings you down. (Damn!)
Vicarious trauma is a real phenomenon, and it’s entirely possible for therapists to become emotionally burned-out. You can spot this in yourself if you start feeling more anxious and hyper-vigilant, or depressed and a bit empty.Your capacity for empathy: your most valuable therapy tool. How can you protect it? Click To Tweet
7 Ways Therapists Can Protect Against Emotional Burn-out:
1. Take Your Self-Care seriously
Self-care matters. (And no, that’s not just something that applies to clients and not you!) Read ‘Floating Your Boat: Self-Care for Therapists & Counsellors’ to discover some aspects of self-care that you may not have thought of. It also includes a useful reading list.
2. Get High-Quality CPD
I have found that really good CPD (Continuing Professional Development) can add a lot of fresh energy and sparkle to my feelings about my client work. It can also give me new ideas and information to add to (and sometimes transform) how I serve my clients.
3. Get Back in the ‘Other Chair’ For a Time
Having a bout of therapy yourself can be deeply supportive and can help you do your best work when you’re with your clients. You might like to get inspired and energised by trying something a bit different – Art Psychotherapy, Gestalt, Coherence Therapy or a somatically-based psychotherapy all have a lot to offer.
4. Get Involved in a Creative Workshop, Group or Class
Look out for a creative workshop or group that you can join. Singing, drama, painting, pottery – being creative in a group can be very restorative and healing. Periodically I run enjoyable, depth-oriented workshops on Creative Self-Care for Therapists, where participants have fun and get creative whilst experiencing some grounded practical techniques and strategies for self-care. Read more here.
5. Book in for a Creative Soul Session
This is a kind of mini workshop for one person, lasting two hours. You’ll be guided through selected creative exercises designed to help you connect with yourself on a deeper level so that you can gain more clarity about an issue you want to look at. A Creative Soul Session can help you with your own self-reflection; and if you happen to already be in therapy, it can help to stimulate feelings and ideas that you can then work on with your therapist. Call me, Emma, on 07515 937027 to find out more, or email me today.
6. Get Great Supervision
Supervision, whether it’s one-to-one or part of a small group, can be vital for helping you feel supported and connected, and for making sure you’re working as effectively and ethically as possible. I hold occasional peer supervision groups for Art Psychotherapists in my Art Psychotherapy studio. You can read more here.
7. Find Resources to Support Your Clients’ Therapy
You may find these articles useful for your clients, so they are enabled to get the most from their therapy:
Anything Else You’d Suggest?
What else have you found helpful? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And if (like me) you’re a psychotherapist who provides therapy to other therapists and counsellors, add your website name and your geographical area so others know how to find you!
And sign up for my monthly newsletter to get free instant access to my resource sheet, ‘Looking After Yourself in the Therapy Room’ – somatic grounding and restabilising resources for therapists.
*If you know where the quote ‘midwife to someone else’s becoming’ originally comes from, please tell me!