While I was in graduate school, every professor would go on and on about self-care. At that time I didn’t understand why it was so important and what it really meant but now I do. Here are the reasons why I think self-care is critical for therapists:
- If you aren’t happy, nobody else will believe you are happy. Be genuinely happy with life since it’s contagious. People will want to know what you know.
- You are a walking advertisement for yourself. If you look haggard and tired, that is the message you are sending about who you are and what you bring to the table.
- Having a full life helps you stay in touch with how important it is. It’s easy to get lazy and forget how important self-care is when you haven’t had it in awhile.
- You only have so much energy in the day. If you get depleted fast due to lack of caring for yourself, you aren’t really being helpful to everyone else you come into contact with.
- Finding new and interesting ways to take care of yourself keeps you sharp and better able to help clients brainstorm on what things they can do to take care of themselves.
- It’s easy to tell the people that hate their job. You aren’t fooling anybody. If you hate your job or just get burnt out with your job, your clients will know. Life is too short to not like the time you spend at work.
- Having appropriate boundaries around your own self-care will help you with clients who struggle with the same issues. You will be modeling good boundaries to everyone paying attention.
- If you are in or plan on getting in to private practice, you need word of mouth and referrals from other people. It’s easier to refer to you when you are joyful about life and love what you do. Therapists don’t want to refer a client to someone who is miserable or who is depleted. Grumpy therapists are not good therapists.
Self-care is critical for people who work in a helping profession. In order for us to be the most effective, we must be well rested, well exercised, and possess good coping skills. We must have a social life, hobbies, and have a support system so we can be the people we help our clients to be.