Being a therapist is a rewarding profession that allows us to help others who suffer from various mental health issues. However, seeing clients every day who present a myriad of issues can be draining. Additionally, having to help our clients overcome complex conditions can be a heavy weight to bear, which can cause burnout. Burnout makes us feel emotionally and physically exhausted and causes frustration and failure. This feeling is the leading cause of depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide in psychotherapists. That’s why having a balance in all areas of your life is essential. To avoid burnout, create a balance between:
Giving and receiving
Our main job as therapists is to be able to grant the support and guidance our clients need when they’re having a hard time. However, we should also allow ourselves to receive help, love, support, and advice from others. Sometimes we become burnout because we feel like we have to do everything, and we may feel bad or guilty asking for help and receiving it from others. Some feel uncomfortable receiving love from others even though they give love freely. Allowing themselves to receive from others may be uncomfortable initially, but it fosters healthy relationships.
Friends, family, and work
For some of us, it can be challenging to maintain a work-life balance. Working should never take up most of your life, especially as a therapist, as our job can be mentally and physically draining. Becoming too involved with work will only cause more stress, resulting in burnout. Always make sure that you make time for your own family and friends. Spending time with your loved ones lowers the risk of developing depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Additionally, you get the support you need to get through challenging times.
Time spent with others and time spent alone
As I mentioned before, spending time with others can have many benefits. However, as much as we love being around the ones we love, having some alone time is equally important. Spending alone time helps us get a better understanding of who we are. When you understand yourself, you’re more likely to do things you love, learn new things that pique your interest, and be with people who make you feel good.
Involvement and detachment
Sometimes when we listen to our clients, we may feel emotionally or personally attached to them. Establishing a relationship with our clients is great as it can encourage them to want to share and engage within the therapeutic space, making it easier for us to help. However, we must always be conscious of if we are overstepping a boundary that could lead to countertransference. Ethically, this would only cause the client more harm than good.
Additionally, most of us in this field have a helping personality in our professional and personal lives. However, how involved we become in someone else’s life can affect us mentally, as too much involvement may cause us to be driven away by emotions rather than objectively thinking.
Your needs and the client’s needs
We, as therapists, try our best to help our clients in every way we can. The sympathy we feel when we hear stories from different individuals causes us to have a strong desire to aid them. While this is a good thing, it can become easily unbalanced. We may begin to get so involved in someone else’s trouble that we forget about our own problems. This can cause us to put our client’s needs before our own. However, self-care should be our priority and to maintain healthy boundaries. It ensures that our care for our clients ultimately can come from a place of inner abundance. The feeling of already being taken care of from within will make you a more giving partner, family member, friend, and therapist.
A sense of efficacy and one of inefficacy
It can be gratifying to notice a significant improvement in your clients and get the desired result. But it’s also important to remember that not every individual is the same, and sometimes the outcome of your sessions with certain clients may not be as expected. That’s why it’s important to accept our successes and failures and recognize that, in the end, the responsibility of healing is truly on the client themselves.
Being a therapist is a fantastic job, and the satisfaction you get from it can be out of this world. However, to get the most out of your career, strive for balance in work, intimate relationships, parenthood, community and friends, and solitude to help avoid burnout.
Keeping a good balance between work and the rest of our life brings a sense of professional and personal fulfillment.
So, always remember to prioritize your self-care and protect yourself. Start now by checking out our Therapist Reflection Journal.