'Stress' is in the spotlight again, so we asked a number of therapists and counsellors how they look after their own mental health when it comes to their work …

“Self-care as a therapist is essential, both professionally and personally. I practice this in a number of ways and have even made an illustrated self-care 'toolkit' as a reminder for myself, something I often suggest to clients also. For me, this includes supervision, personal therapy, peer support and being mindful of timetabling, including breaks and holidays and managing my overall caseload. It also involves wellbeing activities like meditation, walking in nature, exercise (running, swimming, yoga), listening to wellbeing podcasts, writing and painting. It's really important to monitor work-life balance in general, as this work demands so much personal engagement.”

Lucy Dixon, Integrative counsellor, PG Dip Psychosynthesis Counselling

 

“At times of stress, I try to create some space for myself away from the therapy room. If I am short on time, then this space might involve taking a short walk outside (ideally in nature) or doing some mindful breathing. Having hobbies outside of my work is important. I love running and find heading out a long run really helps to clear my head and gain a new perspective on things. A great deal of my clients suffer with stress, and so I consider my awareness and management of my own stress as vital in supporting them.”

Suzie Chick, Transpersonal integrative psychotherapist, Psych Dip. (CCPE), MBACP

 

“I think about the safety instruction on flights – always fit your own oxygen mask before helping others.  I use this as a metaphor for self-care and try to follow the advice because if I’m not ok I won’t be much help to anyone else.  So I look after myself and make sure that I take sufficient time off so that my work-life balance is good for me.  I find being in nature healing and spend time gardening and growing vegetables.  I love a good read and a good film or TV programme and I also ensure that I spend time with family and friends. “

Deborah Warman-Freed, Integrative psychotherapist, MA Integrative Psychotherapy and Counselling

 

“I have learnt to recognise when I’m starting to feel stressed. I know when I need a break and I often stabilise my mind and return to myself by watching tv! Especially if I return home late from working with clients. When I am looking after my two-year-old daughter I am forced to be in the moment and it’s extremely therapeutic. She doesn’t understand about tomorrow or yesterday, so we have fun in the ‘now’. It’s the best form of stress relief for me.”

Nadine Moore, Psychodynamic psychotherapist, MSc Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and Counselling