5 Ways For Therapists To Protect Themselves From Trauma

As a therapist, it is essential to remain open and empathetic to whatever needs to be discussed and explored in sessions. If we were to remain emotionally aloof and closed off, therapy would not feel helpful or effective for the client. Consequently, being emotionally present as a therapist means that your clients will affect you, and you will have real feelings in response to them and the material they bring. So how can therapists protect themselves from being negatively impacted by clients’ distress and trauma while remaining empathetic?

Here are five ways therapists can protect themselves from trauma:

1) Shake it off.

Movement can be a powerful tool for releasing tension. Whether you prefer to shake it out, dance it out, or find another form of movement that works for you, connecting with your body and releasing any stuck trauma-related energies can be incredibly helpful. So next time you feel heavy, try incorporating some movement into your practice and see if it helps you feel more centered and at ease.

2) Release Feelings.

Take a moment to tune into your body and identify any emotions that need to be released. If you feel the need to cry after a session, find a private and safe space where you can let it out. Take deep breaths and allow the tears to flow. Never hold back what you truly feel.

3) Change the atmosphere.

The environment that you’re in can significantly impact how you feel physically and emotionally. If you feel the need to, find a way to change something in the space that you’re in. Scented candles, diffusers, or just opening a window can change the atmosphere enough for you to feel re-set.

4) Self-Care.

Practicing self-care is essential, especially as a therapist, due to the demanding nature of our profession. A self-care routine helps draw a line between your professional and personal life, making for a better work/life balance. A good self-care practice will help you maintain your well-being without depleting your energy to care for clients.

5) Take it to therapy.

As a therapist, listening to the struggles and trauma of our clients can surely take a toll on our mental health. Therapy is a great way to process your feelings and responses to any client material you find traumatic or triggering. Therapy not only helps with burnout or secondary traumatization, but it also allows us to deal with personal issues. We all need support from others no matter who we are and shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help whenever we need it.

Protect yourself.

As a therapist, supporting clients in processing their difficulties and experiencing their joys and pains is rewarding. However, some clients have experienced distressing events, and the images and feelings they bring can be powerful. With good training and self-care practices, we can help our clients while protecting ourselves from becoming too affected by their trauma. There are also many other ways for counselors and therapists to protect themselves from being overwhelmed by their clients’ trauma and distress.



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