Dr. Wendy M. O’Connor is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Brentwood, California. She has worked in various settings with over seventeen years of experience in the community. Dr. O’Connor is passionate about helping adolescents, couples and individuals heal the past and move forward. As an expert on teens and a former teacher, Dr. O’Connor is the author of Teens & Technology: Helping Teens Connect in a Disconnected World which is available as a free downloadable eBook on her website, DoctorWendyOConnor.com.
It is important to realize that therapists need to take care of themselves as much as we tell our clients to take care of themselves. After all – we are human, too!
With heavy workloads and complex cases, it is easy to forget the impact our work can have on our physical and mental health.
Often we work in isolation, with people in crisis or pain. Alongside the normal life ‘distractions’ we have additional responsibilities in the form of professional ethics, codes of conduct, licensing issues and insurance requirements.
All these elements can add up to a big emotional and energy cost for the individual therapist so it is essential to take steps to protect ourselves. Continual professional reflection can help to identify areas where we need to take steps to ensure the weight of the work we undertake is not taking a toll on our own health.
Throughout your career as a therapist, you will continue to learn, gain in experience, and develop your own set of priorities and values within the work you do.
A sense of progress and growth is essential in order to keep your interest and enthusiasm for your work alive.
Studies into the reasons why therapists choose their work and stay in the profession have shown that there is a widespread desire amongst the therapist community to continue learning.
Professional growth is one of the main areas that therapists attribute to preventing burn out and keeping their focus.
There are always new ideas and developments emerging in our field, and as part of what we do, we are always encouraging people to learn more in order to grow and develop as a person. So inevitably that is something we also should be doing ourselves.
Most jobs or study courses have a set of goals as part of an on-going assessment scheme. However, for personal and professional development, many therapists choose to set goals in addition to the ones required by their supervisor or job.
Beginning any new venture carries with it a mixture of emotions. With the excitement of new possibilities and challenges, alongside the anxiety of moving into the unknown and taking on new experiences, many people find the combination of taking on new information and balancing these emotions exhausting.