For Therapists: 8 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Emotional Burn-out
(And before you read on, here’s a quick announcement: I’m running a workshop on 13th October in Wivenhoe, Colchester for psychotherapists and counsellors, titled Therapists’ Websites, Blogging & Ethical Social Media – you can get details here).
1. Take Your Self-Care seriously
Self-care matters, and therapists aren’t always so good at it. Read ‘Floating Your Boat: Self-Care for Therapists & Counsellors’ to discover some ideas for self-care that you may not have thought of.
There might also be some ‘hidden’ self-care that you can sneak into your day; read 7 ideas for hidden self-care for therapists here.
If you’ve had a client session and are feeling quite overwhelmed by the traumatic material that you were both working on, read 16 Ways that Counsellors and Therapists Protect Themselves From Getting Traumatised. It’ll give you some practical ideas you can use for protection against vicarious traumatisation.
And here is a useful list of 6 Essential Self-Care Books for Therapists.
2. Get High-Quality CPD
I find that really good 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 here, too:
3. Re-think Your Workplace
Maybe it’s time to think creatively about different ways you could work? For example, working nearer to home (or even in a room at your home) might help you by cutting down on commuting time, and allowing you more flexibility between sessions and with rescheduling.
You might also consider adding in some online working. My e-book Online Therapy: an Introductory Guide for Art Psychotherapists 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, here.
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, Internal Family Systems (IFS), Gestalt, Coherence Therapy, AEDP, or a somatically-based psychotherapy.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.
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.
6. Book in for a Creative Soul Session
If you’re able to get to North Essex, UK, you might like to try 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.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. I hold occasional peer supervision groups for Art Psychotherapists in my Art Psychotherapy studio. You can read more here.
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, 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!