For Therapists: 8 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Emotional Burn-out
1. Work Online During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The coronavirus continues to be a threat, and we therapists can do our bit in trying to help slow down the spread in order to protect vulnerable people in our society. Most of us have already been working online for some months.
My e-book on providing online therapy is packed with information that you need to know before you start providing online counselling or therapy. Although it’s primarily written for Art Therapists, most of the information in the e-book (e.g. risk assessments, legal and ethical issues, what to include in your client contract, and what to do when the tech connection is poor) is equally applicable to counsellors, psychologists and psychotherapists. You can download it today via this page: Online Therapy: an Introductory Guide for Art Psychotherapists
Plus, when you purchase the e-book, you also get two free bonuses: a sample Client Contract for Online Therapy/ Counselling (which you can adapt to suit your particular needs) plus a handy and very comprehensive Information Sheet packed with tips about working online.
Here are a few other useful resources for therapists and clients about online therapy:
2. Take Your Self-Care seriously
Self-care matters, and therapists aren’t always so good at it. I’ve written several blog posts on the subject, ranging from specific things that therapists can do in and between sessions (so as not to become vicariously traumatised) through to things that therapists can do in their leisure time.
3. Find Really Good CPD
I find that quality CPD (Continuing Professional Development) adds 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. You can also, of course, keep on learning new techniques and approaches through reading, watching therapist videos online, and through discussions with peers.
You may pick up a new idea from these articles, too:
4. Get Back on the Couch
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 — you might look for a therapist who specialises in (to give just a few examples) Art Psychotherapy, AEDP, Internal Family Systems (IFS), Gestalt, Coherence Therapy, or a somatically-based psychotherapy.
I’m a huge fan of therapy for therapists, and I practise what I preach. Personally, I find regular sessions with my own therapist are absolutely invaluable. I’ve even written about it:Therapists: 8 ways you can protect your capacity for empathy, your most valuable therapy tool Click To Tweet
5. 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. Currently these have shifted to being held online, so that we can access them while practising social distancing.
Periodically I run enjoyable, depth-oriented small-group 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. I’m looking at possibly shifting these to an online format, too.
Here’s my guided visualisation for helping you to connect to your creativity:
6. Book in for a Creative Soul Session
A Creative Soul Session 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. I normally run these in person, but may be shifting them online soon.
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.8 ways therapists and counsellors can protect themselves against emotional burn-out Click To Tweet
7. 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. As a clinical supervisor, I use a relational model.
8. Find Resources to Support Your Clients
When your clients have access to good information that supports their personal growth and mental health, they can work more effectively with you. And when you and your clients are working together effectively, you’ll find that the therapy process can feel a lot more rewarding, for both of you.
You may find these articles useful for your clients:
The Therapy Process
Sensitive and Creative
Feelings and Anxiety
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, you might like to add your website name and your geographical area so others know how to find you!
*If you know where the quote ‘midwife to someone else’s becoming’ originally comes from, please tell me!