The Psychotherapist Manifesto for Self Care
I will tend to my own physical needs, making sure I am sleeping well, maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise.
Just as I encourage my patients and clients to do, I will learn to recognize and actively tune into any psychosomatic messages my own body could be reflecting back to me, and will seek help as needed.
I will remember that my relationships outside of work that are enriching, encouraging and leave me feeling refreshed are often the fuel which allows me to give back. I will take time to maintain positive friendships (without excuse) and be OK with distancing myself from those who do not contribute to my overall well-being.
I will also recognize when I need more psychological support than my own friends or significant others are able to provide, and will actively consider seeking out my own therapist when that happens.
As engaging and listening to others share significant trauma and heartbreaking experiences on a regular basis can be difficult, my own distress levels will eventually be impacted. I will remember to check in with myself around any vicarious trauma symptoms I may have picked up, and tend to those appropriately.
I will give myself a break when I feel overwhelmed with the sadness of the world and intentionally will seek consultation and reprieve through a trusted collegue. If I do not have one available, I will make it a priority to find someone who can fill this role. I am not meant to do this kind of work in isolation.
I will make time for vacations, family and outside interests. Joy, rest and well-roundedness make for great therapists.
Appropriate boundaries, time management and the word “No thank you” does not make one “selfish” or “mean”. In fact, when applied, I will recognize, these nesessary modifications make me even a better person as I engage with the relationships that matter most.
If I have a hard time with disappointing others, I will have the humility to recognize that my compassion likely drew me into this profession, and it can also become my demise if I am not careful. I will honestly assess my own codependency needs and will make necessary adjustments without guilt or self imposed anxiety.
I will take time to recognize that the impact I make may not ever be fully known or even brought to my awareness. I will learn to be ok with that, having a quiet trust that if all I did was allow another person to be “fully seen”, I have indeed done quite a lot.
Finally, I will take time for remembering that on a daily basis, the opportunity to impact the trajectory of another’s life, if only by listening, encouraging and sharing a few clinical skills learned along the way is more than an honor. In fact, it is through this gratitude any bumps and bruises endured in the process suddenly seem quite minor when compared to the opportunity I have to make a difference.