When Your Clinician Work Starts To Affect Your Homelife: 8 Tips for Coping


Clinical work isn’t for everyone.

It can often be hard to hold the stories you hear and the pain you see people experience. Sometimes, you just can’t get that one client out of your head, wishing there was more you could do to help. 

When you need to talk about it, it’s tempting to turn to those closest to you. But these familiar people in your life may not be the best ones to help, and keeping your work and home life separate is crucial for your long-term wellbeing.

8 Tips for Keeping Your Clinician Work Separate From Your Homelife

Being in a crisis-related field doesn’t mean that you have to just live with the impacts of your job. If you’re struggling with keeping your work separate from your homelife, here are 8 tips that can help.

1. Have a Signal That Work Is Over for the Day

Come up with a routine for yourself that signifies that work is over. This is especially important if you work remotely, as the boundaries between work and home become blurry when you work and live in the same place.

Whatever you decide to use as your signal – whether it’s your commute, moving to a different room in the home, going for a walk or cooking dinner – means that you can no longer dedicate any more thought to work today. 

2. Develop Hobbies Outside of Work

You may feel passionately about your chosen career, and it may even feel like a calling, but having other things you’re passionate about will ensure that you don’t get burned out or too focused on one part of your life. 

3. Don’t Let Stereotypes About Your Career Get in the Way of Your Relationships

There are always going to be people who are hesitant to forge a relationship with a therapist. They might worry about you using your skill sets to analyze their behavior, or try to “fix” them. On the other hand, they might think that because you work in behavioral health, you can never have problems of your own or act based on strong emotion.

Either way, these kinds of misconceptions can negatively impact your relationships. If you think a friend or partner is treating you like a therapist instead of a person, don’t be afraid to speak up and initiate a conversation about it.

4. Don’t Treat the People in Your Life Like Your Patients

On the other hand, some clinicians find it hard to “turn off” their work personas, treating their friends and family like patients. And it’s understandable – It can be hard to listen to someone you care about share their personal struggles and not offer unsolicited advice, especially when you feel like you know exactly what they need to do.

You might not even realize that “therapist talk” has been creeping into your personal conversations, but when it does, it can have a major negative impact on your relationships.

5. Remember: Therapy Is Important for You, Too!

Therapists and other clinicians are seen as having all the answers, but you know that you’re a person, too – and just like everyone else, you struggle with your mental health.

Do you recommend regular mental health counseling for your clients? And if you do, when’s the last time you have taken your own advice?

You know the importance of taking care of your mental health, so if you’re not already attending regular counseling sessions, consider getting started.

Francesca Giordano, a retired counselor educator and the principal partner of Veduta Consulting, says: 

“I think in the history of our profession, there’s sometimes been a negative association with the idea of being a wounded healer, that by going to our own therapy, we are perceived to be too damaged to help.”

Regular counseling sessions can help you maintain good mental health and avoid:

  • Vicarious trauma
  • Stress/anxiety
  • Depression
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Relationship problems
  • Countertransference
  • Burnout

6. Focus on the Positives

Focusing on the parts of your life that you love is critical to overall wellness when you work in a crisis-related field. A career in behavioral health includes a lot of challenges, but it also means:

  • Fulfilling work
  • Feeling like you’re making a difference
  • Potential positive impacts on relationships, like better communication
  • Learning more about yourself

7. Make Use of (Easy and Accessible) Coping Mechanisms

As a clinician, you know all about healthy coping mechanisms. Maybe you’ve told yourself more than once that you’re going to start meditating, doing yoga, or taking 6 am walks to manage your stress – but if you never actually do it, it won’t help. There’s no shame if your coping mechanism is video games or reality TV – do whatever helps you!

8. Self-Care

Your wellbeing is largely dependent on your overall self-care, but so many of us don’t prioritize ourselves. That’s especially true for those who work in behavioral health. You may tell a client they could do better at self-care, while skipping your own lunch break or wading through the day on six hours of sleep.

Gerard Lawson, an American Counseling Association member and associate professor of education at Virginia Tech, says that “it’s important for people – for counselors in particular – to realize that this is hard work” that can take an emotional toll.

Making sure that you are getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, taking care of your emotional and social needs and generally taking good care of yourself will ensure that you can give your best at work and in your personal life.

Outpatient Counseling and Clinician Training in Region Five

Region Five provides ongoing clinical, medical and diversity training for employees of Community Service Boards located in Southeastern and Coastal Virginia. We offer both online and in-person trainings and our training center is available to clinicians, qualified mental health professionals, and their respective leadership.

We’re committed to supporting our behavioral health professionals through the best and most extensive training and resources to ensure they are equipped with current knowledge for best practices and implementation methods.

Find out more about Region Five training, download training videos and view our training calendar on our Outpatient Counseling and Clinician Training page.

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