Self-Care for Therapists

I’m sure you know of many people suffering the consequences of receiving minimal care or none at all.

Recent Democratic debates have focused a lot on providing healthcare to the poorest of the poor.

This being said, there hasn’t been enough attention paid to the stress this puts on those in healing professions.

Being a therapist in modern medicine is dangerous to your health.

For the last five years, I’ve been mentoring therapists across the US who are trying to make peoples’ live better. Time and time again, I see the brokenness and frustration of those who invest their lives reaching out to others in need.

These therapists are confident that they could make a difference if they were given the time to do what they were trained to do.

Compassionate therapists see the faces of children with autism, manual laborers with worn-out spines, and the elderly living in fear of losing it all.

Not having any political muscle and the perceived high cost of one-on-one care, therapists have been demoted to faceless assembly line production.

These therapists were burned out because they cared too much.

Our paths had crossed because they were searching for a way to serve the needy in a cash practice outside the control of big medicine.

So, what can be done so that therapists wishing to serve the poor can remain faithful to their calling?

How can they extend their emotional-spiritual flame to others without flaming out themselves?

There is no easy diagnosis and prescription to solve the problem of compassion fatigue. But here are steps that can lighten the load and strengthen your soul.

As I read these suggestions in the Handbook of Spirituality for Ministers by Robert Wicks, I thought they would encourage you as a healer who cares.

  1. an honest prayer life
  2. balance in one’s schedule
  3. self-nurturance
  4. health intimacy with others
  5. the ability to deal with negative emotions
  6. the ability to put failure in perspective

The list above may seem simplistic, but research says otherwise. Wicks encourages ministers whose whole life is dedicated to ministry, to begin with praying two minutes a day in silence and solitude. Two minutes!

As ministers, it is easy for us to lose perspective when we are buried in a busy schedule of hurting people.

Sitting alone in silent prayer every day for twenty minutes has made an enormous difference in my life. Centering prayer has helped me to surrender my thoughts, emotions, and day to the divine.

It short, this one practice has united my head and heart as I try to deal with what is in the present moment.

I encourage you to begin the habit of honest prayer life for at least two minutes starting tomorrow morning.

I’d love to hear about it.