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