As it gets close to the holidays and to the season of being thankful, I often think of my work and the colleagues I have. The Thanksgiving recipes I have received from a colleague. The insight on holiday sales from colleagues. And the reminder to take a break when I need it. I love my colleagues. We have a great time together and we help each other out. We’re friends, but we’re also colleagues who have a shared interest in helping people heal and grow.
“I value my colleagues as my friends.”
You’re not alone. You’re not the only one feeling burned out, being called on to do more with less, or feeling like you can’t do everything on your plate
We, therapists, are in a unique position of needing to take care of ourselves while also caring for others, and so we need some extra support and understanding from each other. If we don’t look after ourselves first, then how can we look after our clients?
“I am part of a larger community. Larger than a group practice, bigger than a school.”
When you open the door of a therapist’s office, you enter a sacred space. This is where people go to feel safe and to share their innermost thoughts with others who understand. It is a place where they find healing and growth, often for years at a time.
I am part of this community as well, working with clients privately as well as cooperating with other therapists in my area through professional organizations and training opportunities offered by our state association.
“As our own business owners, we are often on our own, isolated. It’s very powerful to collaborate with colleagues.”
Therapists have learned that collaboration is an important part of their business. The therapist community is a place where they can feel supported and share resources. We often talk with each other, as well as refer clients to one another when we are not the right fit for them (or if there’s simply no room in our schedule). It’s also helpful to get feedback from colleagues about what we do well, what we could improve upon, and how best to serve our clients.
“It’s nice to have other therapists available to talk to about difficult cases. To bounce ideas off one another.”
The term “bounce ideas off one another” means that you can talk with other therapists about difficult cases, especially when you’re feeling like you’re stuck or need a fresh perspective. Bouncing ideas off one another can be helpful in many ways:
- You may find that your colleagues see something in the case that you don’t, which might lead to a breakthrough (or at least a new perspective).
- Since everyone has different clinical experiences and areas of expertise, you may learn about an aspect of therapy you hadn’t considered before. For example, if your colleague specializes in working with trauma victims but hasn’t worked with children who’ve experienced physical abuse yet, he or she could give you some helpful advice on how to proceed with your client’s treatment plan.
- Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone else listen! If a therapist tells me something helpful while I’m venting my frustrations about a particularly challenging client, it feels good knowing that someone cares enough to listen without judging me.
“They say that [therapy] is a lonely profession. But it doesn’t have to be. You can find your community.”
You can find your community.
Therapy is a lonely profession, and it often feels that way because therapeutic communities are hard to come by. The good news is that there are many ways for therapists to find their community, regardless of where they live or work.
Online forums and social media groups offer great opportunities for therapists to connect with each other in real time, allowing them to share resources like worksheets or ideas about how to better run their practices. Professional organizations also provide a way for therapists from all over the world (and even within one city) to meet up at conferences and workshops where they can discuss important issues facing our field as well as get inspired by each other’s work. Therapy groups provide support both online and face-to-face through peer counseling services offered by local mental health agencies; these groups allow clients who may not have access yet affordably available through insurance coverage still gain access to necessary support while completing treatment plans set forth by their care providers.”
Therapists need their communities for support and collaboration just like everyone else does.
Therapists are often isolated, but they can find community. Therapists can benefit from collaboration. Therapists can benefit from a community of colleagues. Therapists can benefit from a community of friends. Therapists can benefit from a community of working together in their practices, clinics, and centers with other therapists, who are also trying to make the world better for people struggling with mental health issues and substance use problems all over the world!
If you’re a therapist and you’re feeling isolated, remember that the world is full of people who want to help. You just have to reach out to them. If you need support as well as collaboration, consider joining some kind of community – it could be anything from an online group like this one or even something more formal like an association or organization with chapters all over the country/world.