Just because they treat people with them, therapists are not immune to mental health struggles. In fact, helping others through their own struggles can be mentally taxing. If you are a therapist and are concerned about your own mental health, here are some tips.
Disconnect from work at home
If you have your own practice, you might be tempted to be in ‘always on’ mode so you can help your clients if they need it. However, this isn’t healthy for either of you – you need time away from work, and your clients need to know that they can’t always depend on you.
Make sure that you have a separate phone line for your clients, and turn this off when you leave work.
If it is appropriate for your work, you could offer an emergency line to you or your receptionist (who can then contact you). But stress that this is for emergencies only, and tell your clients that if they message you, you will try to get back to them during the 9-5 working day.
Write your feelings down
You can’t write down any confidential information, but you could write down ‘today I feel X because of X’s bad news’ and explore how that made you feel. This helps to get the emotions out onto paper and stop them milling around your head.
Do basic self-care
Remember, the basic things that you recommend to your clients – go for a walk, call a friend, eat well – are important for you too. You are a human being, and need to do these basic things to look after your own head space as well. Make a list of all of the things that you advise your clients to do and ensure that you are doing them too.
See a therapist
Even the most talented therapists in the world may struggle to treat themselves. Therapy requires somebody out of your head to objectively assess what is happening, therefore, it’s understandable that you might need therapy yourself, even if it is quite similar to what you offer. Don’t be ashamed at not being able to treat yourself – you became a therapist to help other people, not yourself!