4 Therapists Open Up About Caring for Their Mental Health

Published on: 03 Aug 2018
A group of people puts their hands in a circle

Therapists provide an incredibly valuable service: helping others work through issues and roadblocks, leading them toward more positive mental health and life experiences.

It’s almost superhuman how therapists work with their clients on such a deep level, while maintaining their energy at home, in their own personal lives, and confronting their own challenges.

We recently asked Talkspace therapists a few questions about how they support their own mental health and wellness. Did you know that therapists also seek therapy and counseling? Their answers, and more insight into the lives of therapists, are below.

How do you personally preserve your mental health, considering you help others do the same on a daily basis?

“I’ve been a therapist for going on 25 years and know that maintaining my own mental health and practicing self care is vital, personally and professionally. Given the intensity of the work we do as therapists — being present for the pain, suffering, trauma, and despair of others, while actively working to help them — means that taking care of oneself is crucial in order to be present for my clients.

Just like on an airplane, you need to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”

– Jill E Daino, LCSW (New York), Talkspace Therapist

“A quote by Dr. Sigmund Freud inevitably comes to mind, “no one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human beast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.” After hearing that for the first time, I make sure to dedicate enough time to safeguard my mental health, with the goal of offering better services to my clients and surviving in a fast-paced profession.”

– Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S (Virginia), Talkspace Therapist

“When I’m seeing clients, I make sure to take 5-minute “mindfulness” breaks throughout my workday to make sure that I’m fully focused and present in my work with clients. I try it have a set “off” time each day—where I’m done responding to emails and doing anything work related.”

– Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D., LPCC-S (Ohio), Talkspace Therapist

What does self-care look like for you as a therapist?

“The years of being in supervision groups, personal therapy, and having trusted colleagues to openly discuss the impact the work has been invaluable. Without the ability to process what we hear, the pain and suffering of others sits within us and can be experienced as its own form of traumatization — or compassion fatigue as it is sometimes referred to in the literature.”

– Jill E Daino, LCSW

“One thing that I try to make my own is that my list of self-care activities is unique to my needs, interests, and likes. These activities include things that bring me pleasure and replenish me. If an activity encompass learning, traveling, and spirituality, it’s perfect for me.

Another important part of my self-care is my own personal therapeutic process. A therapist in therapy is most of the time a great therapist.”

– Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S

“I work to engage in positive health self-care at least once a day. A few days a week, I go for a run. I spend quality time with my spouse and children. I read books that are not related to counseling at least occasionally. I also see a therapist of my own every couple of months as a check in.”

– Christine Tolman, LPC

How do you set boundaries between your work and your personal life, considering the weight of the subject matter in daily practice?

“All therapists, including myself, have our particular credentialing field’s Code of Ethics. This Code of Ethics specifies that when we get licensed, we will be monitoring our own physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being when engaging with clients. If we want to provide our clients with the best possible sessions, we must be at our best, and to do that, we need to take care of ourselves.”

– Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S

“I am very mindful about what I share with clients. If I feel it will help them, I will share a story from my personal life. If I am sharing because of a personal internal need, I check myself and do not share that information.”

– Christine Tolman, LPC

“I make sure that I have an off button. I care deeply about my clients — both past and present — but I also need to be able to leave my work at work. I try to have a bridge between home and work. Whether I’m working in my office or my home office, I try to take a few minutes at the end of each day to tie up any loose ends, review my to-do list for the next day, and give myself just a few minutes of breathing room before I transition into my other roles (wife, mother, friend).”

– Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D., LPCC-S

What’s something beneficial you’ve learned in your practice with others that you now carry into your personal life?

“One of the most helpful things that has been also beneficial in my own life is the use of small mindfulness practices. And given the availability of easy to use apps now, it’s that much more accessible for most people.”

– Jill E Daino, LCSW

“I have learned to be more compassionate and thoughtful in my experiences with strangers. Often the way you treat others says more about yourself than the other person, so I try not to personalize it when someone is not kind to me. I have also learned that almost everyone has insecurities of some kind, and it is not healthy to dwell on them. As a result, I feel more confident in my own abilities.”

– Christine Tolman, LPC

“I’ve learned that my clients are resilient. In order to be helpful to them, I need to be sure to incorporate resiliency, wellness, and self-care into my own life. It’s a little cliche, but I find it helpful to remind myself that self-care isn’t selfish. It’s okay to set boundaries. It’s okay to say no and It’s okay to have an off button.”

– Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D., LPCC-S

Thank You to Therapists Everywhere!

Speaking openly and honestly with therapists is what makes our breakthroughs possible. We’re honored that these Talkspace therapists have chosen to share more about their personal and professional lives.

Together, we continue to fight stigma around mental health by having these conversations. If you’re looking to open up and begin your therapy journey, Talkspace is here for you today!

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

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