Today, it dawned on me…I was putting more effort in a treatment program than were my patients. For example, I prepared for a session that was a continuation of an individualized version of a group. The patient did so well for the first couple of weeks; motivated to change, did all the homework, utilized the skills; and even though she failed sometimes, she kept up with her positivism and momentum. I thought, “Oh wow, she’s really going to do this! I’m so excited for her!” That was the naïveté in me. Don’t get me wrong, I am always excited for patients when they progress and really begin to feel enthusiastic, I will always be their biggest cheer leader. But, the problem began when this patient began missing her appointments. At first, she was calling and informing the clinic about not being able to make it to her appointment, and then she stopped calling as well. Meanwhile, I was at home the night before working on the next day’s material in anticipation of her arrival. When I finally noticed that I was working harder at treatment than my patient was, that was when I recognized the potential for early burnout. How so? Because, I need to check in with myself and identify a few things: 1. I am not meeting the patient where the patient is at, and am working through treatment on my own agenda rather than hers. 2. How is this affecting my attitudes towards the patient and 3. How is this helping me with my self-care? These are but just a few among many other concerns. Of course, with personal counselling, I will be able to work through the first two issues, but the one I want to focus on is the self-care component. By spending time working on a treatment plan for hours, endless readings, and neglecting my friends, family or sleep, I have crossed over to the other side. In other words, I have neglected myself and am one step closer to burning out. I personally feel that a way to ensure that I am not repeating the same mistake is by adopting the rule “Follow the patient’s lead” and never having an agenda; instead, embrace a loose guideline. Sometimes, the patient may not be ready to move forward. Another preventative measure I have begun and really like is putting limits on the amount of time and energy I spend on working from home. This tactic is thus far aiding in finding a balance between work and play. By putting such limits, I can shut off the work component of my brain and get into relax and rest mode afterwards.
By: Bhavna Verma
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA