It’s a rewarding career but…
In the helping profession, we often don’t have the luxury of going home and talking about our day as we wind down and decompress. We hold other people’s pain and deepest secrets, we hear heartbreaking stories. You are not and endless supply of compassion and wisdom. You need some way to let these things go and to fill your own tank.
You are the tool, you are the means to health for many people, it is your energy and your presence that makes all the difference. It’s a heavy load sometimes. Having someone to do your own work with is not just a luxury, it’s a necessity. As therapists and caregivers we need a place to talk about confidentially sensitive issues as well as a place to do our own work. Let’s face it, most of us have personal history that made us want to become counselors or other helping professionals. Our history doesn’t resolve itself just because we work in this field. Our clients are going to trigger things we thought we had resolved, and they are going to bring into focus things we didn’t even know we need to work on.
Here are some signs you might need to do some of your own work:
- Feeling irritated about clients
- Losing your sense of humor
- Trouble at home
- Low energy
- Getting sick more frequently than usual
- Spacing out during sessions
- Noticeable decline in empathy
- Fantasizing about working as a backroom mail clerk where you don’t have to talk to anyone
I have had many clients over the years who were therapists, caregivers, nurses or doctors. I have a great deal of respect for professionals who have the desire to continue to do their own work no matter how long they have been in the field. The need to turn inward and look at our own stuff, the need to have a place to talk about your work without worrying about confidentiality and the need to connect deeply never goes away. Whether you need to have a standing weekly appointment, or you need to come in periodically for a few weeks at a time, don’t put it off. Take care of you so that you have something to offer your clients.
There is nothing wrong with seeking help
It’s normal to feel tired and stressed occasionally. But when it gets to be a frequent occurrence, it might be time to address the situation. Sometimes being new in the field is that hardest time. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder if you are doing any good. It takes time to find your rhythm, to find your authentic voice as a helping professional. Sometimes it gets hard after being in the field for a while. You might find your creativity suffering, or you might feel like you have lost motivation to help people. It really doesn’t matter if you have just started in the field or if you have been a helper for many years, you still need to tend to your own inner well-being.
It can be discouraging to think that you are doing well and have done your work, just to have a client trigger an old memory or an old response. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us. We are in the profession of working with difficult emotions, so it’s only natural that being in that zone will bring up our own difficult emotions or experiences. It’s not a problem. It can become a problem though if you ignore it. The same thing that is good for our clients is good for us – find someone to process with.
What about professional risks?
Of course you might be worried about risking your career if you seek counseling. You might be afraid that if you tell me your struggles, I will think that you are not competent to be in this field.
That is the farthest thing from my mind. I have found that we are excellent at being able to compartmentalize our challenges so that we can be there for our clients. I see both parts of you, the part that has challenges, and the part that can put it all away to be professional. If there seems to be a serious problem and we need to discuss taking a break from your work, we will talk about it and make a plan together.
I want you to rest assured that I don’t expect you to have everything figured out just because you are in the profession of helping others. This is the one place where it’s ok to talk about your own personal struggles and not have to worry about being judged or being seen as less than competent.
It would be an honor to work with you if you are in the helping field in any capacity – therapist, nurse, home healthcare provider, doctor.
Call or email and let’s chat. 970-988-6978. firstname.lastname@example.org