You're a therapist, so you know how difficult life can be and how prevalent mental health issues are.
But in the recent past, on top of these existing issues, we've all had to process some frankly major world issues - the pandemic, war, climate chaos, financial insecurity... a whole lot of unpredictability and fear.
Thats a lot to cope with. And as a therapist, you aren't immune to it.
So how can you cope as a therapist running a private practice when struggling with your own mental health issues?
Here's an open letter to therapists with mental health issues.
The Grow Your Private Practice Show was launched in July 2020, and in this time it's covered a wide variety of subjects about how to grow your practice and attract more clients.
But it's not just about attracting more clients, it's also about YOU and how to build your business to suit your own needs.
And part of that is managing mindset issues and practising robust self-care, something that can end up too far down the to-do list.
So today, I'm sharing one of the most popular episodes with you, an open letter to therapists with mental health issues.
So this is for you if, like me, you struggle with your own mental health issues.
My personal trauma
I'm not good at talking about myself so I’m not going to share my whole story.
But when I was a baby, my mother gave me away. I don’t know exactly why.
I was given to a couple for them to raise me as their own.
So I first experienced trauma as a newborn.
But sadly, this didn't turn into a happy ever after story. My adoptive mother had mental health issues, and adoptive dad was absent and critical. I think I had depression from a very young age.
As I say, I’m not going to share my whole story, but I am no stranger to trauma.
But about 5 years ago, I found out something that I’d never been told, and this literally turned my world upside down. Everything started to make sense.
As a result I’ve had a very rough 5 years trying to make sense of this and my life as a whole. Adoption is gaslighting on an epic scale.
I’ve recently started therapy with an adoption counsellor, and although it's early days, just knowing she understands the complexities of adoption is making a huge difference.
….which is again why having a niche is so important as it helps form the therapeutic relationship. I’m experiencing that for the first time in my therapy and the difference for me is breathtaking.
The impact on my business
Right now, I’m finding my work a struggle.
I love what I do, it’s my passion, and having a low mood, depression or severe anxiety sadly isn’t new to me.
But the things I usually do to manage my feelings aren't working. It’s like a dense brain fog has descended and I can't fight my way out of it. I can’t think properly.
So for example, this week I’ve started writing 4 podcast episodes, but couldn't finish any of them because my brain is mush.
Does any of that sound familiar to you?
If so, you'll know how frustrating, scary and overwhelming it feels.
- Maybe you struggle with low mood, depression or anxiety.
- Maybe you're neurodivergent and find it hard to organise running your business.
- Maybe your life has hit a rough patch and everything feels like a struggle.
- Or maybe you’re going through the menopause or peri menopause and you have brain fog too.
If so, look - I wish I had an answer. I wish I could tell you to do X Y and Z and things will be better. But you’re a therapist, you know that frustratingly isn't the way it works.
So I wanted to remind you that you are Human First, Counsellor Second. Your needs, your wellness, and your self-care come first.
Yes, you can still be successful as a therapist with mental health issues - I know many therapists that battle with their own mental health.
But you have to be honest with yourself both about how you are feeling, and what you need in order to look after yourself.
So here are 5 things for you to consider if you're a therapist with mental health issues:
Talk to people.
You know how important it is to open up about how you're feeling, but it's not always easy to do in practice.
I was a therapist for 14 years, and I’m still rubbish at talking to people about myself. And I’m definitely rubbish at asking for help. It's a part of my history, unfortunately. Ask me how I am and I’ll tell you I’m fine, even if I hanging on by a thread.
But today, I actually called my friend to ask for help. A HUGE thing for me. And after the call, I felt so much better.
So if you’re used to being the strong one, or you worry you’ll be a burden, I get it.
So ask yourself, what would you say to a client?
Talking really does help. I know it, you know it, but do you actually do it? So if this sounds like you, I challenge you to reach out.
Invest in your own therapy
Therapy works - who knew, right?
So if you need help, consider investing in your own personal therapy. You deserve it.
It will help you both personally and professionally.
Talk to your supervisor
Your supervisor is there to help and support you, so reach out to them and, if possible, tell them how you’re feeling.
Cut back on your work
When you feel overwhelmed and stressed, there really is no place for piling the guilt on yourself. So give yourself permission to only do the absolute essentials, and let everything else wait.
This is what I’ve been doing for a while.
Originally, my coach told me to do this, and her giving me permission to take my foot off the gas was exactly what I needed.
So I’m giving you permission (if you need it) to do the same.
Things will get better
Things won’t always be this hard. But if you allow yourself to meet your own needs, look after yourself and prioritise self-care, then you’re likely to feel better more quickly.
You will get through this, but you can only do this by looking after yourself, not bullying yourself.
Keep the faith.
I hope this has made sense to you. I realise this is in no way an in depth blog about managing your mental health while running a practice - but I will write that at a later date when I'm feeling a bit better.
Just know that if you are struggling, you are most definitely not alone.
You deserve to have your needs met - we all do.
Ok, I need to click publish before I chicken out of publishing this.
We are all different, we all have our own stories and let’s face it, life is bloody hard.
But please don’t tell yourself that you cant be successful, because you totally can.
I believe in you.
So please, take very good care of yourself.
With love, Jane x