Anyone who works with people, be it physical health, emotional/mental health or spiritual health, has to be very aware that they can get caught up in the drama that is many people’s lives.
We spend most of our days listening to the litany of complaints people have and the disappointments, fears and problems associated with those complaints. Have you ever considered how much of that you absorb into your own psyche? Unless we are very aware of what is going on, we take on much of that and don’t even realize it.
When I have helped other helpers, one of the key issues that I have noticed is that many people in the “helping professions” are stressed by all the problems that they are surrounded by each and every day. What do you do to alleviate that stress? Do you realize when this is happening? Do you tell yourself that you can’t just leave it at the office? Do you ever dreams about clients/patients? These are all questions that I ask people when they come in and I suggest that you ask yourself those questions. If yo are noticing that your mood is different or that your sleep/appetite has changed, it may be time to talk to someone. Often times, our lives become very entwined with the lives of the people we serve and we can lose track of whose live it is in the process.
I always recommend to people going into the counseling field that they find a counselor that they can go talk to periodically. Whether you’re in private practice or work in an agency setting, we all need someone to talk to sometimes. Maybe we don’t recognize that the job is getting to us, but our family or friends are making observations that we are different or angry or stressed. It shows good self-understanding and self-esteem to be willing to seek out the help that everyone needs from time to time. For years, I have had someone that I go to when I am feeling stressed and it has helped me navigate my career in a much healthier way.
Some keys for finding a counselor for yourself is to make sure it is someone you feel comfortable with and someone who will not treat you like you should already know what to do. The one thing I can give to my clients that I cannot do for myself (and neither can anyone else) is objectivity. I am not and will not be objective about my own issues or situations. Going to a counselor will/should provide that objectivity that helps us stay in balance and maybe even help us re-frame things in a helpful way.
So if you’re feeling stressed, down, etc., go see a counselor! Remember to differentiate your life from the lives of the people you serve. We should be able to help and support each other and we, of all people, should recognize the benefit of seeking some help/advice from another professional!