Today I’m going to help you protect and replenish your energy as a therapist.
Being a therapist is exhausting and draining – mentally, emotionally, even physically. Attending to and replenishing your energy is key to being fully present with each client, attuned and attentive, as well as maintaining your own wellbeing outside of the therapy room.
We want to go from barely making it through the day to a more balanced fluctuation of energy that primes you and your clients for success.
Unfortunately, newer (and even seasoned) therapists disregard how frequently low their energy is, often in the name of helping that next client.
No one else will protect your energy
There’s plenty of other reasons you might struggle to protect and replenish your energy, though. Maybe you…
- Compare yourself to other therapists with a larger caseload
- Feel pressure from a supervisor/company to see more clients
- Feel you’re failing a client and need to offer more of yourself
- Struggle to identify your own feelings/needs
Personally, I’ve struggled with all the above. I get it. There are so many pressures and influences that make it difficult to take care of yourself.
But you – your presence, attention, personality – are the most crucial tool in the therapeutic process. If you are not taken care of, your client’s experience of therapy will suffer.
You need to take care of yourself. I do too.
So, let’s talk about how we can do that better.
Step 1: Start a Therapist Journal
Starting with an understanding of exactly what is draining and replenishing you is the vital blueprint for where change can be made. I’ve found it helpful to start a therapist journal, noting how I am feeling throughout the day and week.
- How do you feel at the beginning of the day? Are you well-rested? Are there any difficult emotions at the start?
- Are there any clients that you felt more drained after? Why might that be? Were there any emotions you felt during this session?
- Is there anything that helps replenish your energy?
- How do you feel after a full day with clients? How about right before your last client?
- Did you have any breaks? What did you do during them and how did that affect you?
Identifying and writing about how you are affected during the day gives you data and insight into what’s going well, not so well, and where change might be possible.
Step 2: Plan Around Your Energy
Some therapists have a plan for honing their craft. Even fewer have a plan for protecting and replenishing their energy.
So many of us miss this, especially early on, because we are so fixated on our clients. Fear and anxiousness about how we are doing leads us to hyperfocus on how we are affecting change for our clients (or struggling to do so). We fail to see how valuable taking care of ourselves really is.
So, here is your permission: you can – and NEED – to have an intentional plan for how you will protect and replenish your energy. Consider:
- Am I seeing too many clients in a day?
- Are the clients that require more energy at good times of the day for me to be present and energized?
- Do I have enough breaks between clients, if any?
- Am I sleeping and eating well?
- Am I vocalizing my needs to friends, family, partners, supervisors?
Pick ONE thing you want to change this week.
After journaling I realized that seeing more than two clients in a row was too much for me. I rearranged my schedule so that I never saw more than two clients in a row at a time.
This allows me to prepare for clients beforehand and catch up on notes after, go for a walk to get out of my head, or take a quick nap for an extra boost of afternoon energy.
It’s been a game changer.
Step 3: Reflect, Iterate, Automate
Learning how to protect and replenish your energy as a therapist is a lifelong process. The good news is, if you start with one small and mindful step today, you’re on the path now.
The key to continuing, though, is reflecting on how your new change is affecting you and making changes that will benefit you more.
Remember, we’re trying to go from barely making it through the day to riding the normal fluctuations of energy with ease.
It’s going to take some energy to figure this out, but once you have a better understanding of your own needs, you can more easily automate your day to best reflect what you need.
Your energy is valuable and precious. It’s worth taking the time to understand its needs and setting boundaries to protect it.
Well, that’s all for today.
- Start a Therapist Journal to gather valuable data about your own energy.
- Plan your day to cater more effectively to what your energy needs.
- Reflect on what’s working best and begin automating.
Photo by Sander Weeteling on Unsplash