The practice of psychotherapy can be very rewarding and psychotherapist spend several years making a positive impact on lives of whom they work. However, this field can be very demanding and difficult at times due to the challenges that are presented. It is very important that we attend to the our own mental health so that we can be effective professionals.
Feelings of Distress
As stated in the Merriam-Webster , the definition of distressed is ” unhappiness or pain: suffering that affects the mind or body.” We all experience distress, but when it goes unchecked overtime this leads to burnout.
While attending grad school it was very concerning to me that several of the professors clearly needed to attend to themselves. I have become very sensitive to this topic every since completing my masters degree. It is very important to become self aware of ourselves and monitor our reactions. At times our body is giving us a signal to take a step back and take care of ourselves. Some of us take actions while others simply just pour themselves in whatever task is at hand.
As therapist we must be aware of the signs of burnout which often goes unnoticed or pushed aside. If we do not attend to our own mental health, how effective can we be while assisting clients. It is important to take a step back and rejuvenate your mind and body.
When we are assisting clients that are victims of trauma, counselors may be traumatized by the information that is stated to them during the session. This leads to several symptoms of vicarious traumatization such as intrusive thoughts, avoidant responses, psychologic arousal, somatic complaints, distressing emotions,and addictive or compulsive behaviors that will affect one’s competence.
9 Tips for Self-care
- Listen to your body. At times we have so much to do and often forget about ourselves so identify what activities are best for you to do. For example, I take time out for myself which includes a quiet time reading.
- Put a reminder on the calendar. Even if it is 5 mins per day put aside some time to do some art activity, painting or journaling.
- Whenever you can do something for you in between session close your eyes and do some breathing exercise. In addition, you can listen to some music.
- Exercise if so important for you so take the time to do some light activity such as riding the bike for 30 min and increase it by 5 mins every week.
- If you don’t know how to say no then this will burn you out very quickly. Know your boundaries and weakness.
- Make an effort to ask yourself is you are working too much.
- Make sure to surround yourselves with people who will encourage you to take some time for you.
- Minimize your time and don’t surf the internet for several hours.
- It’s up to you to make the effort for your health, therefore, do not bargain with yourself. Just do it!
Distressed.(n.d.). Retrieved July 29,2016 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distressed