As helping professionals, we are constantly giving away pieces of ourselves. Whether it is in large or small quantities, those bits can erode our sense of self over time. If we're not prioritizing good self-care practices, we are often at a loss to give our best selves to others.
I was always told in graduate school that therapists experience burn out within 5-10 years of working, sometimes even sooner. Many of the professors I met had experienced this themselves and adjusted their practices to keep going. We were warned in this beware-the-inevitable sense but were not told how to counterbalance it.
I can recall my Counseling and Psychotherapy Methods professor, Dolores McCarthy, saying that the biggest part of the work that we do as therapists lies in our ability to connect with a client, build rapport, and be real. This was the closest anyone got to talking about self-care in my graduate career. And even still, it was not spelled out for us.
I learned the hard way that I had to establish boundaries at work, not so much with my clients as my employer, in order to prioritize self-care. I learned that working 50+ hours per week as a helping professional was not sustainable for me. I realized the impending burnout and needed to make a big shift.
I understood that I wanted to remain in the counseling field. I adored helping clients, especially in the forensic world, but missed utilizing the holistic side of things that speaks to me so strongly. Instead of allowing my profession to run it's course and be reactive, I decided to be proactive.
I quit my job and moved to Italy to live and work on a farm. This was a five month sabbatical that I justified as my restoration process and oh, was it needed!
I recognize that this type of change is not for everyone, but my hope is that by sharing this crazy leap, I can guide others in the helping profession to a more sustainable lifestyle. Read on by clicking the photo below or clicking here to read my article on Elephant Journal about how I left it all behind and moved to Italy.