This idea of self-care as an ethical imperative is one that has become my mantra, self- care IS an ethical imperative.
In conversations with clinicians about self-care or just overall, it is amazing how many are so burned out and emotionally spent that they feel they cannot even continue the work. They say things like “I don’t think I can do this work anymore, I don’t have enough support”, “I feel so drained, my life was better before I was a therapist”, “I don’t have enough time to meet requirements and this is so draining hearing horrific stories all day”. Not only is that what multiple therapists are saying, they get feedback from others that agree and state they feel the same way. We are leaving the field in mass at times and does it really have to be this way?
The requirements of being a licensed clinician vary from board to board and state to state but nowhere is it a quick or easy process. There are many who have spent a great deal of money, time and energy to get where they are and due to the overwhelm they can’t imagine spending the rest of their lives doing this. This is major burnout!
What can be done? What can we do to try to keep good clinicians from getting to the point that they want to leave the field? I always go back to self-care as a way of life rather than another to-do list. Why? I have seen it work. Experience shows me personally and from working with and talking with others that this is an amazing place to start.
What if we all took as good care of ourselves as we do others? Would that eliminate the stress and push of the hard work? Of course not. but we could very well be in a position to handle it better. What if we rested when we were tired and got massages on a regular basis and took out time off and then didn’t work?
If we woke up rested and didn’t neglect our own needs, that could make a big difference in how we are able to hold space for other people’s stuff. That is our job, right? We are space holders. Why do we expect that it is not needed for us to have nurturing self-care in return for that?
- Anxiety/anger or irritability
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Not caring about quality of work
- Being physically ill
- Not getting along with others and resentment towards clients and/or co-workers
- Loss of appetite
This list could go on and on. If awareness is the first step to making changes then these are vital for you to be aware of. Sometimes we just need a small break. Sometimes a vacation or a long weekend will rejuvenate and revive you. Sometimes you need more, much more.
If this is where you find yourself then taking a look at the way you do self-care could be a step in the right direction. Self-care includes doing some self-evaluation on what you are doing and what you need to be doing and then closing the gap between the two.
How can you start this process?
A look at self-care.
- Get a free NBCC approved CE course on self-care HERE . You can also complete the form at the bottom of the page.
If you feel like you would benefit from some support, let me know, there are a number of different ways we could work together. If you are not already then please join the amazing FB group REAL Self-Care for Therapists HERE to get great support every day.
Love and light,