Three Things I'm Thinking About This Week
It has been a long winter in the Pacific Northwest. We have had rain, snow, and wind, with a few sunny days scattered throughout to tease us about the coming of spring. Yet, even with the sun shining outside my window, I know that we woke to snow in the Willamette Valley just two days ago. It's a reminder that things don't always go as planned. And while there are many things that we can't control, including the weather, we can choose to be as effective as possible in the situations we encounter.
Here are a few things that I have been thinking about this week:
Why ask "why?"
As therapists, we ask our clients many questions each week. Asking "why" questions can help our clients probe deeper into what drives their behavior, leading to greater understanding and improved problem-solving.
If we are not careful, it can sound like an interrogation. As a result, many therapists avoid the question and move away from reflective questions and into less powerful questions such as "how." Carl Jung wrote, "To ask the right question is already half the solution to a problem."
The reality of therapist burnout.
Yes, burnout is a thing. After the first year of the pandemic, many of my colleagues left their positions, making significant changes in their lives. Some changed careers, leaving mental health to work in schools or open their businesses. Others opened part-time private practices, allowing them to choose their caseload size and limit their work hours.
Unfortunately, this puts more pressure on therapists working in community-based agencies and clinics. Most of us recognize the early signs of burnout, including emotional exhaustion, difficulty managing our caseload, and compassion fatigue.
So how to recover from burnout? Recovery is more than implementing a few more self-care activities into our daily lives. It focuses on transforming how we manage our well-being. Self-care is one aspect of well-being. However, we must also focus on other aspects of well-being, including our mental and physical health.
The Coming of Spring
I love winter. Each fall, I look forward to the coming of winter with its cooler temperatures, bright lights, and cozy gatherings with friends and family. Yet, somehow, each year, I forget about the long dreary stretch of winter that is January in the Pacific Northwest. Even with my Happy Lite and its 10,000 lux light, I long for more daylight hours and more green in the landscape than gray and brown.
While we have a few more weeks until the spring equinox with its symbols of new life, we can begin to bring signs of spring into our lives. Try buying a bouquet or a new plant for your desk, light candles with fresh scents like lemongrass or hyacinth, or take time to declutter your space or rearrange things for a fresh new perspective.
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