We are resilient, we are helpers, we are experts…we are human. As a counselor we are seen as helpers to many clients that suffers from harsh mind altering conditions; depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. We are exposed to the hurt, pain, frustration, sometimes trauma filled experiences of our clients on a day to day bases. However, because of who we are and the resilience that we possess, we continue to do our jobs as experts in the fill of helping. We continue to take on the dark secrets of others, and the shame that has fulfilled their lives. We are excited to see the evidence of our work when finally they are able to hold their heads up high and walk out of our door. However, what happened to all the baggage that has been dumped on to us? Who will help us as we continue with the wear and tear on our own mind and bodies?
Many times as counselors, we may find ourselves watching the clock periodically throughout the day hoping that time flies by. It’s not because we dislike our job, it’s simply because we are mentally drained, and emotionally exhausted. Ultimately, the lack of focus, may cause us to miss out on important points in our client’s story. Therefore, the client is forced into a state of preparation or back into the state of contemplation. We must stop allowing ourselves to be consumed by the negative energy over time and learn another avenue of how to dispose of it. In other words we must stop the burnout before it stops us and interfere with our clients which are in our society among us desperate to be helped and saved by us.
I know we have different outlets such as conferences to attend, counselor getaways, and other counselors to talk to, but what do we do in the mean time before these events roll around. Where is our outlet? How many of us take our own advice as far as the famous “self-care.” Time and time again we take our work home with us. Many times we have that one case of the day that we can’t shake. Trying to come up with different strategies and hoping for the best for our client. Meanwhile, our mind never stops working. This is why I felt this blog is so important for us, the counselors. We can know that we need to avoid the burnout or compassion fatigue, but unless we actually take the time out for ourselves every day or every other day, burnout still wins in the end. How many times have you painted just to relax, took a warm relaxing bath with music and candles, made time to visit your good friends, played sports or watched your favorite sport live, lastly but not least have read a good book? In the book The Resilient Practitioner, Thomas Skovholt, gives a self-care action plan, speaks about resiliency, and provide a revised resiliency inventory for us to use.
As counselors we do a lot, we take on a lot, why not embrace ourselves a lot. If we don’t take care of ourselves we will not be able to adequately take care of our clients. I dare you to take care of yourself. There are different techniques and information out here in the world of counseling for us to combat burnout and compassion fatigue let’s use it and continue to be strong, confident, effective in our lives and in our client’s lives.