Preventing Burnout in Private Practice

Building a private practice is not a short-term endeavor thus sustaining your energy is important for thriving in your business building adventure. We want to see you succeed. After all, owning your own business is meant to create more freedom and joy in your life.

However, look around you, and I am sure you will find some amount of burn out, cynicism and overwhelm, all of which are serious issues for mental health professionals. Past studies have shown that there has been little to address these issues for social workers and counselors, even though a majority of clinicians have experienced the burn out at one point or another.

Private practice owners are not immune. In fact for those struggling with burn out, others may not know because they are on their own in their offices without the support or accountability. This begs the question,  Why do we create businesses that contribute to these issues? And more importantly, how do we prevent it?

I would suggest some of our own frustrations in private practice come from us replicating what we learned in the non profit world and applying it to our for profit  private practice.  Reduced fees, working weekends and evenings – doing whatever it takes to get someone through the door can contribute to the burn out and resentment.  These are often habits that have to be undone with the therapists in our bootcamp.

What is worse, is when the private practice doesn’t sustain the livelihood of the clinician and thus when they encounter the stress of this work, they feel unable to afford what is needed to help them cope.

Before we get to the point that we need an intervention, what about focusing on prevention?

How can we ward off the burn out that can creep slowly into our lives?

Here are just a few quick tips of how to cope:

  • Create – When I put my paintbrush on the palette or sit down to play a song, my heart lightens. I find when energy is sucked dry, my creativity is the first thing to go. I feel stuck and unable to think through the options. Feeding my creative force gives me life and energy. Think about what creative things you do that keep enlivened.
  • Move – Yoga, walking, kick-boxing…the list is endless. Being present in our bodies is especially important for those of us that sit for a living. Moving awakens our mind and our spirit. It’s great for your health too!
  • Be still – meditation, prayer, and silence. Sometime we hear people’s stories all day with small gaps of space in between. Those in between times are key in building our energy for the next space for us to hold with our clients.
  • Grow – I love to read and not just all the stuff that is going to agree with me and make me feel comfortable. I want to read stuff that challenges me to think outside the box. Intellectual growth should never end.
  • Surround – Energy feeds off of other energy. When you are in a group of supportive beings that love on you and support you, your cup will overflow with that same love to give to others. I also enjoy reading inspiring stories of others. Those stories act as reflections of possibilities in my own life.  
  • Talk – We listen but we also need to talk. Find someone to talk through all the stuff that sits in your mind all day and that you never have time to pay attention to. That stuff is important. I find some of my biggest business revelations have come from the digging into the most obscure places of my psyche. For some of you this means finding a coach, a mentor or a therapist.
  • Evaluate – Take an honest look at what could potentially lead you to burn out and ask yourself – is this necessary for my business to survive? For me to have an amazing life? If it isn’t necessary, then don’t do it. Some might evaluate and discover that private practice is not what is best for them. That’s ok. There are many ways to help people. But the sooner you can come to this realization, the sooner you can relieve yourself of the difficulties you are experiencing.

If anything, we need to learn to care for ourselves and each other.

The work we do is so valuable and we must treasure our craft – which means valuing ourselves.

We value you and our community. So please share. Do you have ways you prevent burn out? Post below and together we can support and encourage each other and create sustainability in our practices.