Therapist burnout is one of those things that natural therapists are going to have to sometimes handle, just like all therapists. Here's some information about this kind of burnout, including what you can do to make it a bit more manageable so you can effectively run your business in the long-run.
Introduction to Therapist Burnout
According to multiple studies, as many as 67% of mental health professionals, including natural therapists, may be experiencing an intense level of burnout. Obviously, the exact number will vary a bit based on the exact nature of the industry and where it is.
One targeted example of this comes from a study of 151 mental health professionals in Northern California. More than half at a high level of emotional exhaustion and well more than a third had high depersonalisation. The study indicated that many of the workers were satisfied with the job they did despite these negatives, however.
What this means, is that you can get a lot out of being a natural therapist, but you have to be careful enough to make sure that you don't end up losing your sense of self due to focusing on other people all year round.
The Hidden Dangers
One of the big problems with burnout is that you often don't notice that it's happening before it's too late. A common way to describe this is the old canary in the coal mine analogy. Miners used to keep canaries in cages as they descended into mines because the miners themselves couldn't detect deadly carbon monoxide poisoning as it's invisible. However, the canaries could, and when they stopped singing the miner would know to run.
In the same way, you have to find your "canaries" to help you keep track of whether you're showing signs of being burnt out. That way, you can keep doing what you love, keep making a living while doing it, all while staying clear of burnout that could not only hurt your mental health but keep you from practicing your natural therapy.
Finding Your Canaries: Causes of Burnout
Here are some common stressors from being a natural therapist that can function as your canaries, telling you that you may be burning out:
- Compassionate Fatigue-This is a term that means that you're emotionally connecting with patients so much that it could be taking a toll on you. It's only possible to care about so many people, so much, before it starts to weigh on your mind.
- Patient Overload-If you have just too many patients and can't keep track of them all because of the mental strain required, this can be another sign. A common example of signs of patient overload includes when you start mixing up patient's names and symptoms, for example.
- Zero 'Turn Off' Time-If you have it so that patients can contact you whenever they want, day or night, then you have no way to reset and relax for a while. If you're feeling like you never do anything but think about other people, this could be why. It can also be a potential precursor to disassociation.
- Vicarious Trauma- It's possible to experience trauma vicariously through your patients. When you start showing the same symptoms as your patients with similar experiences, you might need a break.
The best way to manage burnout is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some ways to emphasise prevention, as well as ways to recover from burnout:
- Plan Regular Vacations-Most mental professionals of whatever type go on vacations regularly to try to de-stress from their jobs. It should also be noted that in cases where burnout seems to be present, you may have to take impromptu vacations as well. Don't be afraid to inform patients a week or two in advance when you need a break. If you don't do this, you could end up getting hurt badly, and requiring even more time off which will be bad for your practice.
- Have Times of No Contact-You need to have regular periods where you can relax, knowing no one is going to contact you. If you want, you can specify that they still can in a true emergency, but you have to strictly enforce this. If they abuse it, then you will need to remove the option for your sanity.
- Have Your Own Life-Make sure you don't abandon your life for the sake of your patients. They need you to be at your best, and burning out won't achieve that. Practice hobbies, meet your friends and family, and so forth. This will ground you and help you remember who you are even as you're diving into other people's heads and trying to help them out.
- Consider Your Own Therapist-It's fairly common for natural therapists to seek out their own therapist. A therapist can help serve as another kind of canary for you as well, letting you know when they observe that you are getting too involved in your patients and not making enough time for yourself. The built-up frustrations you have about your patients can come out in therapy as well, helping to lighten the load for you.
How to Avoid Burnout and Grow Your Business in One Go
It's worth noting that you can also get burnt out in other parts of your business. In order to grow and keep clients coming in, it's essential to keep marketing. It's possible to get burnt out doing this as well.
Fortunately, there are options out there to help with this as well. You can download "Discover the 201 Marketing Secrets Guaranteed to Unleash Explosive Growth in Your Natural Therapy Business" for free in order to get some help with this side of the business if you're in need of some new ideas.
It doesn't cost anything to download this book electronically, and it can go a long way to making your life easier and getting those clients coming in so that you can focus on your work and on maintaining balance to stay clear of burnout.