Helping Helping Professionals Live, Love, and Heal out loud
Helping professionals are professionals that help others for a living. They include: Nurses, Teachers, Social Workers, Mental Health Therapists, Medical Doctors, Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Healthcare Administrators, and more.
Helping Professionals often enter their professions because in part because they know what it’s like to need help themselves. While there are many wonderful aspects about the work we do, we also have unique vulnerabilities that–if unaddressed can lead to substantial personal, professional issues.
Sound a bit like you? Keep Reading…
Is this you?
You are passionate about helping others, in part because you know what it’s like to need help. You enjoy the idea of knowing you’re helping the world to become a better, safer, healthier place. In some ways you are just the person you needed when you were growing up. And that’s why you feel particularly guilty when you find yourself getting frustrated: With family, friends, coworkers, and even the very clients you want to serve and support.
Furthermore, it’s been harder to balance all your responsibilities at work and home. There are many things you love about your profession but it’s starting to feel unsustainable to go on this way. You’re overworking and too exhausted to enjoy your personal life, creating difficulties in your relationships that impact your productivity at work. You can literally feel the tension building in your body… You’re exhausted and this time it runs bone deep. You’ve likely invested years of school, sacrificed time with friends and family in order to complete your professional training and now you fantasize about leaving the very profession you’ve put your heart, mind, and soul into.
Maybe you’ve been feeling this way for a few weeks, or this has been a lingering issue for months or even years. You’ve read enough self-help books and guides to know what you’re supposed to do, or perhaps, as a helping professional you actually teach these strategies to your students/clients/patients. And still, the suffering continues.
If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself “Ooh… this is me” or, “This is about to be me if I don’t do something about it soon”, you are definitely not alone…
While rewarding, working as a Helping Professional can be difficult because…
1. Many helping professionals identify as Wounded Healers
The concept of the wounded healer is the idea that our desire and ability to help others, in part, comes from a place of knowing what it feels like to need help ourselves–Perhaps due to our own difficult life experiences and traumas or those of our loved ones.
It’s really a beautiful thing, to respond to hurt with healing. In some ways it’s our Super Power. But it also means that in times of high stress (for example during an ahem… seemingly never ending global pandemic and global unrest) we can be particularly vulnerable to negative personal and professional consequences, including that nasty B word: Burnout . ugh.
2. Helping Professionals and wounded healers can be particularly vulnerable to Burnout
What is Burnout? Burnout is a syndrome related to prolonged workplace stress that overwhelms the professionals capacity for effective coping. Burnout features include:
- exhaustion that doesn’t go away following time off
- Lack of motivation to work harder
- Withdrawal from social supports
- Beginning to feel helpless or like a failure
Burnout is also closely related to other phenomena that can impact helping professionals such as Compassion Fatigue, Secondary Post Traumatic Stress and Moral Injury. Development of symptoms related to anxiety, depression, and PTSD are also common.
When these happen, we can become at increased risk for personal and interpersonal difficulties that reduce our functioning at home and work. In the long term, guilt, shame, & other negative consequences can then snowball into a myriad of problems that can have a lasting impact on the way we understand ourselves, other people, and the world.
Ready to nip your burnout symptoms in the bud?
Being a Helping Professional can also be difficult because…
3. As a helping professional people often look to you for guidance around wellness and so it can be hard to admit that you’re also struggling or to reach out for help.
One common trap helping professionals can fall into when seeking independent solutions for wellness is the knowledge trap. The knowledge trap is this phenomenon where the more “self-help knowledge you gain, the worse you eventually feel. This because despite knowing what you’re supposed to do to feel better, you’re either too stressed out to be consistent with wellness practices or the benefits of your “self-care” feel too superficial or short-lived to be effective. Ultimately, the combination of Imposter Syndrome and toxic stress is the one-two punch that keeps helping professionals in a constant cycle of feeling anxious, stuck, ashamed and on the verge of burnout.
This pressure can be self-imposed but is also heavily influenced by work cultures that reinforce mental health stigma within helping professions. For example, one study reports that almost 50% of female medical doctors failed to seek mental health despite feeling they met criteria for a Mental Health Diagnosis, in part due to fear of career stagnation or retaliation). The irony is that lack of mental health treatment is linked to reduced productivity, increased turnover and overall workforce costs of up $300 billion each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Therapy can help you get clear on your specific difficulties and support needs to you can show up as your best self in your work and personal life. Here at Healing Insight, we understand a critical truth: Knowing better, doing better and feeling better are three different things. Insight alone is not enough. You need healing insights and the support of a caring, empathetic, and non-judgmental guide to help you move that knowledge from head, to heart, to action to support you with consistent feeling better and engaging in supportive wellness practices.
While there are many reasons one might benefit from therapy, here are a few considerations.
You may benefit from therapy if you’re experiencing the following symptoms:
- Depression (e.g., low mood, negative self-talk, loss of interest in activities)
- Anxiety (e.g., excessive worry, fear, feelings of panic, etc.,)
- Concentration difficulties
- Sleep difficulties
- Changes in appetite
- Body-based tension that you feel may be connected to your stress levels
Signs you may benefit from specialized counseling for helping professionals include:
- Using substances (wine, alcohol, Marijuana or other substances to cope with work stress)Underperformance at work despite working long hours
- Deep feelings of exhaustion that don’t go away with time off or typical self-care practices
- Withdrawing or cynicism from supervisors, coworkers or other work supports
- Anxiety while at work or when thinking about returning to work
- Calling out of work more and more often
- Strong reminders from your stressful personal life experiences connecting you to the clients/patients you help
- Feeling overwhelmed or like you’re experiencing the stressful things your clients are experiencing
If you find that you are experiencing challenges and the current coping skills haven’t been impactful or if you’ve struggled to consistently implement coping strategies you believe are helpful. Therapy may be a good place to get support.
Working with a therapist has been shown to have a positive impact on healing burnout and making changes to decrease the likelihood of it happening again.
Imagine what life would be like if you could
- Get to the root of what’s keeping you trapped in a cycle of burnout, shame, or underperformance
- Have the confidence to say NO to the things that no longer serve you (including with your Boss, your relationships, and family) so you could say Yes to the things that genuinely bring you joy
- Consistently implement coping skills and self-care activities that actually leave you feeling restored, energized, and motivated.
- Achieve the level of balance needed to enjoy meaningful work and time with friends and family
What if your life could actually feel as good as it looks on paper?
Our Therapists have specialized training to support helping professionals and their loved ones.
- Healing Insight Therapists are experienced and passionate about supporting helping professionals. As helping professionals ourselves we have first hand knowledge of what it’s like to pour into others for a living and understand the importance of high quality support. Through our counseling and wellness services we’ve also helped hundreds of helping professionals get the clarity and relief they need.
- We work with each client to identify the specific ways burnout, workplace stress, and even childhood or other traumatic experiences may be impact your relationship with your profession. Providing you with the clarity you need to make the professional decisions that are best for you.
- We utilize a combination of brain-based, body-based, and mindfulness based strategies to help you release the experiences and practices that no longer serve you so you can experience relief from symptoms including depression, shame, and anxiety.
- We teach boundary setting techniques to help you
- We also help you move all of those wonderful wellness insights you already have from head to heart to action so you can maintain the wellness you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions about Therapy for Helping Professionals
What can I expect from my therapy sessions?
During our first session, we’ll discuss the therapeutic process, structure, policies, and procedures. We will also explore your experiences surrounding the presenting problem(s). We use an integrative relational approach to treatment; we will think together about your goals and the best way to reach them and decide together on “growth work” to engage in between sessions. After building internal and external resources for coping, we will identify target memories and make decisions about reprocessing and identified traumatic experiences in a way that feels courageous and safe within the context of your window of tolerance. Progress will be reviewed and goals adjusted as needed. As you progress and get closer to completing goals, we will collaboratively discuss a transition plan for graduation/discharge/termination.
What treatment options are available for Helping Professionals?
There are various treatment options available for helping professionals. Contact us today for a free consultation to help you figure out which option(s) are best for you. Below are options we have to support helping professionals.
Individual therapy for helping professionals
With treatment, you can explore unique challenges and opportunities for wounded healers as it relates to living, loving, and healing out loud. By exploring our own childhood (and other) trauma wounds, we can develop the self-awareness and coping skills we need to balance caring for others with maintaining our own sense of well-being
EMDR therapy for helping professionals
EMDR is a highly effective treatment for PTSD, secondary stress, depression, anxiety and life stress.
EMDR works by using bilateral stimulation to activate your brain’s natural processing system to help resolve traumatic or stuck memories that impact your functioning. One of the many benefits of EMDR is that it doesn’t require you to share or even know every detail of the traumatic event in order to get relief.
Other than 1:1 treatment, what other options are available for Helping Professionals?
Group Therapy for Helping Professionals
Groups provide a unique opportunity to find shared experience, gain support from other professionals that are going through similar issues, and gain access to a licensed professional at rates more affordable than individual therapy.
Dear wounded healers: group therapy for helping professionals
Dear Wounded healers is a 6-week therapy group for helping professionals exploring and healing from Childhood trauma experiences. This group includes psychoeducation on burnout recovery, trauma informed healing, and development of practical coping skills.
The program also includes a peer group support component for helping professionals that want concrete support developing and maintaining consistent self-care practices.
Wellness M.A.P (mindset accountability and preparation) program for helping professionals
Group support program for helping professionals looking for support developing and maintaining consistent self-care practices. This program includes monthly virtual workshops, and biweekly MAP groups.
I know I need support but what if my family needs therapy too?
Our team of skilled clinicians are available to provide therapeutic services to your whole family. Therapy for Women, Men, Couples, Children and Teens, Parents, and Perinatal Mental health are available. We also provide Premarital Counseling.
Contact us today for a free consultation to help you figure out which option(s) are best for you.
Ready to Get Started?
With all that has happened helping professionals have been stretched further than ever. You need a way to release the stress of these past few years that goes deeper than learning a few handy statistics about burnout recovery and a coping skill or two. You need something that gets under the skin and into your heart, so you can make the most of your time with family, friends, and frankly: Yourself!
You already do so much for others, you shouldn’t have to neglect yourself. You deserve to get the level of care and support you provide to your clients on a daily basis.