Self-care is a bit of a buzz term at the moment. A lot of people I know now talk about having self-care days, and I can see how it benefits them. So, while it may be a buzz term, self-care does actually have a place in all of our lives. Particularly as a therapist, you may recognise the need for self-care in others, but what about yourself? Self-care is incredibly important in our profession and without self-care you could end up becoming burned out. Your mental and physical health is just as important as your clients. In fact, it’s probably more important as without strong mental and physical health you will find it difficult to work effectively with the clients you see. With this in mind, here’s a rundown of my top therapist self-care tips.
Firstly, switch off. After spending your days shouldering your client’s issues and traumas, it’s important that you unplug for a little while. It may not be daily, but you should certainly aim to set some time aside each week for this. Enjoy spending some time with yourself, just being still and appreciating the silence. You could run a nice, hot bubble bath or sit quietly with a cup of tea. Meditation may be your thing, or perhaps you’d enjoy lying down and having a sleep. The choice is yours but do take some time to switch off.
Secondly, know that it’s ok to say no. This could be to clients or to friends and family. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in thinking you have to please people and be everything to everyone, even as a therapist. However, saying no can be an empowering experience. It also helps to maintain boundaries that you have in your professional and personal relationships. You can say no to client appointments at certain times or for certain issues that you may not feel comfortable working with. You can also say no if a friend or family members asks if you want to do something. If you’d rather have some time out, make that a priority. The people who know and care about you will understand. Of course, it may be that seeing a friend, or your family will be a source of self-care. If that’s the case, say yes if you want to.
Thirdly, it’s important to have people around you who understand the therapist part of you. For example, I have personal friends and therapist friends. The personal friends are people I hang out with, see regularly, and talk about personal stuff with. The therapist friends are other therapists who I talk to about how my business is going, what clients I’m seeing, etc. They’re a group of people in the same profession as me who understand what it’s like to be a working therapist. An important point to mention here is that you’re not looking for a therapist friend to be your therapist, but it can be valuable to have a group of like-minded people as a sounding board.
My fourth tip is to make sure you have a supervisor. Supervision is an important part of being a therapist. I know that some societies do not require therapists to have supervision, but I personally feel it’s a vital part of a therapist’s development. Each month I have a supervision session and it’s an opportunity to check in with a more experienced therapist to discuss client’s I’ve been saying, how my business is going and any emotions that may have arisen as a result of my work with clients. If you’ve not got a supervisor, I highly recommend getting one as supervision is a very valuable process and will aid your self-care.
My final tip is to write a diary or journal. Journaling is great for reflecting on how things are in your life at the moment and it’s an opportunity to release any emotions you’re feeling. Reading back something you’ve written can help you to make sense of feelings and thoughts. This can be very therapeutic. Self-care is great for anyone to introduce to their lives but as a therapist, it’s important to remember one saying… Therapist, heal thyself.