7 Ways Therapists Personally Deal With Burnout

Avoiding burnout has become nearly impossible. A lack of boundaries due to working from home, increased demands in our personal lives and endless uncertainty thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic have us feeling more depleted than ever. This results in sleep problems, loss of motivation and little energy, among many other issues. Even therapists aren’t immune.

“This has been the hardest year of my career,” said Kevin Gilliland, a clinical psychologist based in Dallas. Working with so many individuals – and feeling the pain of their experiences – has resulted in lots of emotional and physical exhaustion for mental health experts, he said.

But it’s important to manage burnout in order to protect your overall wellbeing. So what do therapists do when they’re at the end of their rope? Read on for their best advice.

1. Try a new hobby

Taking on more when you’re already tapped out may sound counterintuitive, but it might just be the solution you need. Bari Schwarz, a psychotherapist based in New York City, said starting something new and exciting can help re-energise you physically and mentally.

“I’m a huge proponent of establishing new hobbies on a yearly basis,” Schwarz said. “I think it’s easy to defer to ‘reading a book’ to unwind, but after years of studying to become a therapist, sometimes that can feel like work. Rather, I consciously make efforts – took up knitting one year, joined a wine club another, got into pilates – and in doing so, I have things to look forward to in order to unwind.”

Forrest Talley, a clinical psychologist in Folsom, California, also uses this tactic.

“I really enjoy planning and completing projects – building projects in particular, like a clubhouse I made several years ago for my youngest daughter,” he said. “Other therapists I know combat burnout through travel, running and cooking – they find it relaxing, socially engaging and a creative outlet.”

2. Talk to a therapist

Even therapists need therapists. Speaking to someone (or even a support group) can be extremely beneficial when it comes to managing burnout.

“Talking with other therapists is one of the most common ways therapists combat burnout,” Talley said.

“Some therapists join consultation groups, and this form of peer support is likely to be very effective in that it provides a therapist with insights on how to regain momentum,” especially when they feel like they’re stalled at work, he added.

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