It has been almost four years since I took a real vacation (and not a stay-cation). The stress had taken its toll from working as a psychotherapist and a nurse over the last few years so when I finally decided to take a vacation this year to de-stress and unwind, I truly felt the positive gains from it and saw its benefits. I had decided I needed a beach vacation to be able to de-stress and self-reflect. It’s always important as therapists to schedule in these much needed breaks to reconnect with ourselves as human beings and recharge for ourselves and for the benefits of our clients. Yes, it’s hard to leave knowing some clients might feel abandoned or have difficulty coping without having their therapy sessions readily available during the week(s) you are away; however, not taking a vacation for yourself does harm to all parties. It not only can cause you burnout which will affect your clients but it also sends the message to your clients that they have to depend on you and that you are not a model of self-care yourself. Being well attuned to your own needs sets a good example. If you have a full case load and have complex clients that you feel may need some potential support while you are away, you can always designate a back up therapist to look after your clients as need be. This is at your discretion. Don’t hesitate to let your clients know you are away by preparing them in session and by changing your voicemail message and email vacation reminder.
So, here I was in Cuba last week, enjoying the beach and the sun. I was able to relax, meditate and reflect on myself as a person and a therapist. I recharged myself. I was away from all social media and email/phone correspondence and it was liberating. I was able to take in the culture and be humbled by my surroundings and took on a new appreciation for my life and felt true gratitude. I noticed how happy Cuban people are and how they use music, dance and song to express their happiness. I noticed how much they smiled and laughed and revelled in simple things. I wondered how disconnected we were compared to them and how much we take for granted. My take-aways were humbling and grounding for me. Even just taking care of my basic needs of sleep, food, water and sunshine/fresh air did a world of good. How many times do we have sleepless nights or don’t get enough vitamin D from the sun? – and how these factors lack in our daily lives and effect our work ethic. I even have heard of therapists who don’t schedule in a proper lunch break in between clients. How can you truly be effective and available when your concentration is off with your stomach rumbling? Not only did I think of these things, but I also had time to reflect on where I would like to be in a year’s time from now and where I hope my private practice will be as well. I hope you take the time to have a self-reflecting and recharging vacation time this year because you will not regret it.
Andrea Cashman is a private practice psychotherapist who has founded Holistic Counselling Services for individual clients seeking therapy in Ottawa, ON. She also practices at the Ottawa Hospital as a registered nurse. Feel free to comment below or contact her at [email protected] or visit her website at www.holisticcounsellingservices.ca *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
I could not find any metaphors to tie these two-I am sure there are many…for me at times its best to keep it as simple and direct as possible keeping in mind the sensitivity of the topic and the young clients that I work with. Summer has had an influx of teens that are as they say “being discovered’ by their parents or other faults as having self harm behavior-and they blame it on the weather and their clothing….no matter what the reasons are…one thing is sure that this needs to be addressed and expressed in many ways and creative arts has been a window of opportunity for some of these youth who have chosen to explore this medium. Some techniques that are based on the technique of focusing can be modified and used in various ways. I have found useful are:
Creating a Safe Space: Using art materials an image of the felt sense of the safe place is created. Once the client does this step, it may be fine to just stop here. This is an important step in creating a safe place within that the client can always choose to return to, whenever she or he needs to. The client can also embody this safe space and using movement, music and gestures could use it either as an intervention technique or calming technique.
2. Safe Space/Creating Distance: Once the client creates the safe space, and can clearly make connection to it when she or he needs to, then the client can move to place all the things between her/him and feeling all fine. Beginning with the safe place, in the art form, the client uses the art materials to symbolize the issues in the way of feeling all fine. Possibilities include, drawing symbols of each issue, or writing, onto pieces of construction paper; tearing or cutting into shapes papers to represent each issue; or using clay, beads, or other objects to symbolize the issues. These objects or papers are then placed at a distance that feels right to the client, from the safe place. The client resonates, or checks inside for a feeling of rightness as well as to check whether there is some more space inside. If the client connects with the image/art piece, it may be helpful to have the drawing/image present during subsequent sessions. When the client focuses on the experience, invite the client to sense the whole feel of it in her or his body.. While creating the art, the client resonates the handle (image/symbol), checking for a right fit.
More information on self harm and creative arts can be found in:
BY: Priya Senroy *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
Today I arrived home after seeing five back to back clients and I realized my nervous system was in need of some deep relaxation because when the phone rang and I just about jumped out of my skin!
And here is where we all need to walk out talk. I meditate and visualize regularly but when I miss a few days I really feel it!
There is a need to turn on the “Relaxation Response” regularly. This essentially means that the parasympathetic nervous system is turned on. When this nervous system is on line, the body then begins to deepen the breathing, strengthen the immune system, clear the mind, release tension in the muscles and increase ease of thoughts. The brain is signaling to the rest of the body that the war is over and it is peace time. The corresponding biochemicals begin to emit and the body starts to let down and relax.
Not all relaxation exercises work for everyone. But here is a universal one that may assist to turn on your relaxation response.
Continue reading *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA