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.
In my book, The Beginning Counselor’s Survival Guide, my main goal is to simplify the difficult-to-understand. For a career that is all about helping people, we certainly do make it complicated to get into sometimes! As the co-founder of Beginning Counselor: Building Your Ideal Internship I get questions all the time, many of them starting with, “What do they mean by _______?”
The fact is, with counseling licensure, as well as with counseling practice, there are a lot of gray areas. “This means this if this is the case…unless of course, this happens.”
That’s why I wanted to take this opportunity to clear up some of the confusion, specifically about the concept of HOURS. By that I mean the specific number of hours we as counselors (or psychologists, marriage and family therapists, or other behavioral health professionals) are required to earn in order to switch from a provisionally licensed mental health professional to the real deal.
The first time I worked with a physician was during my training as a suicide risk assessment consultant in a hospital.
My job was simple: give the nice doctor a brief run-through of the patient presentation and make recommendations for treatment. I walked into the doctor’s office, smiled, took a deep breath, and I began to regale them with the tale of my time with the patient and how they made me feel.
After about thirty seconds, my story was cut short.
The doctor shook his head, raised his hand, and said “you’re burning my time buddy, just tell me what I need to do.” Caught off guard and sweating profusely, I managed to stumble through some recommendations before the physician said “sounds great” and turned back to his notes.
Since it’s all too common for therapists to graduate with little to no marketing training, there can be a lot of lingering questions about what you’re “supposed” to be doing to get yourself out there.
If you’re considering private practice, it’s likely you already know that a website is a necessity. Your therapist site is the core of your practice marketing, after all. But when is the right time to get your practice website?
That’s the question I want to explore more in depth. Just because a website is important doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best idea for you to start one right now — and just because you’re not tech-savvy, it doesn’t mean you have a good excuse to keep putting off such an important part of your business. When should you get your practice website when you’re just starting out? And when shouldn’t you?
When I entered graduate school, I knew one thing: I would never become a clinical psychologist. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew psychology wasn’t it, and I figured that spending a few years in a doctoral program was a good way to pass the time while my interests worked themselves out. (Side note: It isn’t. There are much easier ways to spend six years.)
Now I am the one thing I thought I would never be: a clinical psychologist. How in the world did that happen?
The truth is that I began graduate school with a narrow sense of what it means to be a psychologist. Over the course of my training, I learned that there are many ways to match your interests, passions, and values to a career in behavioral health and many opportunities to fall in love with this work.
Whether you have well-defined professional goals or are utterly confused about the path ahead, here are a few questions to consider as you work toward developing your professional identity and choosing a meaningful career.
As a therapist, I value working with clients of all different backgrounds. In fact, it is one of the best parts of my job as I meet someone and learn something new every day. The philosophy I find most helpful in working with clients is cultural humility. This is defined as the ability to have an accurate perception of our own cultural values as well as maintaining a client-oriented perspective that involves respect, lack of superiority, and attunement . This stance takes away the pressure that “cultural competence” places on us as therapists to know everything (which of course is impossible).
Cultural humility is also a perfect starting point for working with Muslim clients for several reasons. Muslims have been in the news a lot lately. Unfortunately, the coverage is usually negatively skewed, which has influenced perceptions of Muslims in the United States . This may also impact how therapists view Muslim clients who walk into their offices. Given that all of us are affected by implicit bias, it is critical for us to examine our biases, including how Islamophobia impacts the way we treat Muslim clients.
With a culturally humble stance, we as therapists are open to learning more about each Muslim client’s unique experiences as we monitor and challenge our stereotypes.
We are not always so good at saying goodbyes. There’s just something a bit uncomfortable about it. While we, as mental health professionals, obtain instruction and training in the nuances of communication and relationship, carrying out a solid, healthy therapeutic adieu with our clients requires some forethought, preparation, and skill. The following is a review of considerations and tips for terminating psychotherapy with success.
Treatment tracking is important because it gives you a baseline, and therapists can use repeated assessment to track progress and re-plot the course when things get off track.
Imagine walking into a therapist’s office seeking services to deal with a so-called problem or issue you have. You walk in with immense nervousness and torpidity, you feel you want it to be over before it even begins. You find yourself sitting on a sofa across from a stranger and all you’re thinking about is what you’re supposed to say or do.
But then, the stranger across from you starts to speak and describes an entire process of how therapy generally unveils. You hear about confidentiality, possible therapeutic styles and interventions, and length of treatment. You begin to feel a bit comfortable and start to relax. This information starts to ease your discomfort and the picture begins to appear clearer about what you’ve gotten yourself into.
Do you remember that catchy little tune by Bobby McFerrin? “In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double, don’t worry… be happy!” I know it’s a bit corny, but it is so true when it comes to exam prep.
The prospect of being happy seems nearly impossible when preparing for exams like the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Hours of time spent studying. Fatigue from sleepless nights of cramming and, of course, good ol’ financial strain from the hundreds of dollars spent on study materials. It can be a bit much. But, as someone who recently passed EPPP, I promise there are ways to make your EPPP journey a happy one.
Before we get into the tips for making EPPP a more positive experience, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge what everyone is probably thinking right now: Yes. The EPPP is a daunting exam. Yes. It feels cruel and unfair. Yes, it sucks. However, it is a necessary part of becoming a clinician.
If you’re like most therapists, you weren’t taught much about marketing in graduate school, especially about online marketing. Online marketing for therapists is an incredibly easy (yes, easy!) and inexpensive way to let your ideal clients know who you are and how you can help them. A super easy and inexpensive form of online marketing is blogging, but there are a few tricks you need to turn a random blog into an online marketing tool. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s dive in and learn how to do it!
The easiest way to attract whatever types of clients are perfect for you is to create a blog and write posts about topics that interest those clients, make sure the world sees them, and make sure the blog posts guide people to book your services. I know many of us (myself included!) felt like never writing anything again after 5+ years of graduate school. That included a 100+ page dissertation, so let me just say that blogging for marketing purposes is much easier than writing grad school papers. (In fact, those old grad school papers can come in handy; keep reading to see how!)
Here are some easy ways to kick out some blog posts that will sit online forever, working to attract business for you while you sleep, catch up with friends, see clients, or do whatever you enjoy doing. Here’s how your posts can do your online marketing for you!
In order to land your dream job, you have to know how to really sell yourself during your interview. Here are some tips and techniques to use that are sure to leave your interviewer impressed: http://ow.ly/nVBu50GFb5w