Reducing the risk of burnout for Therapists

What do therapists require to reduce the risk of burnout during the ongoing Pandemic?

There is no denying that we have all been impacted in some way by the pandemic, over the last 18 months. The impacts on mental health have been evident, with an increasing stretch upon mental health services. 

But what does this mean for the clinicians who are supporting people?

Waitlists to seek counselling have gone through the roof, with clinicians on a continual treadmill to attempt to meet the needs of an ever-growing client population.

Having been in various lockdowns over the past 18 months, many of us have decided not to take that break we were planning. Taking a break to sit at home during a lockdown could be said to have lost its appeal. With national and international travel also limited, many of us have accrued hours of leave. However, the need to have a fresh experience in new places and switch off is an essential means to maintaining good mental health and wellbeing for us clinicians.

With the ongoing shifting of parameters, it has been hard for many of us to adapt to significant changes in the way we are living and interacting with the world. As clinicians, are we taking stock of the impacts upon us, as we navigate our clients’ struggles with the uncertain climate? 

What are the impacts upon clinicians, hearing from so many clients who are distressed about the same things we may be going through? 

Signs of how our shared experiences with clients during COVID have impacted clinicians may include the following:

  • Avoidance 
  • Resistance to hearing their clients’ stories
  • Overwhelm 
  • Over-identification
  • Apathy
  • Disconnected
  • Irritation

These could be signs of Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, or even Vicarious Trauma. If you’re interested to see how impacted you may be in these areas take the PROQOL TEST HERE.

How do we foster our own needs at this time?

Babbett Rothschild in Help for the Helper discusses the need to separate your story from your client’s story. Despite similarities in our situation, our self resources, social networks, and general stability may be very different from that of our clients.  We are amazing at stepping into the clients’ shoes but over-identifying will lead us to overwhelm. 

Here are some ways that you can maintain your own sense and connection with self:

  • Diary management – breaks between sessions, limiting to 5 per day max
  • Client Management – choosing the right types of clients to match your capacity
  • Routine with your hours with clear beginning and end times
  • Rule of 5s – To know you have 5 other clinicians you can reach out to to refer your waitlist to
  • Taking time out for yourself each day- make the most of your meal break
  • Daily rituals which mark the end of the workday- changing clothes, going for a walk, taking a shower, doing something social
  • Making plans when you’re are not working- taking short trips away, planning holidays, making plans with friends and family, having a pamper day, put your feet up, get a massage, go to a spa, exercise, spending time in nature
  • Accessing good support from other professionals and peers, in the form of supervision, personal therapy, and peer discussions.

Take the self-care assessment HERE to see what other strategies you can build into your daily lifestyle. 

Good supervision is often perceived as hard to find, perhaps due to people’s poor experience of organisational supervision. But there are so many excellent options out there for clinicians; group supervision, individual supervision, and peer supervision are all excellent resources for those seeking to maintain good health and a sustainable career.

If you are seeking supervision at this time, reach out to Mind Up, who can support you to find the right supervisor.