Taylor Harman, MA, LPCC, and I connected over Twitter (God I love Twitter). She’s a therapist and blogger who writes specifically about provider mental health and burnout. This is such an important topic all the time, but especially in the last year when need for services is up and working from home has blurred our professional boundaries.
Taylor was kind enough to let me share a post she had previously written for her own blog. More resources and support for therapists are available on her website, Therapists Struggle Too.
The date is March 2020, the country begins to shut down and we are told to stay at home and immediately take a training to become certified to provide telehealth services. With most of my caseload being children, my first thought was, there is no way this is going to work; however, I also told myself that this will probably just be short-term (boy was I wrong). My second thought was, I have no idea how to provide telehealth. Fast forward to today, April 2021, and most of us are still providing telehealth.
Within that year, I was furloughed to part-time work; however, expected to take on more clients, expected to keep a child on the screen for 53 minutes, hold everyone else’s panic, depression, financial insecurities, and struggles of their altered perspective of the world, all while experiencing those same challenges myself. The only difference is that I had to “pretend” I was okay and stable. Truth is, I was not okay and my life was far from stable.
How was I supposed to be “fully present” in my sessions when I was exhausted, depressed, anxious, and constantly thinking about my own financial struggles and the mere dangers of simply going to the grocery store?
Days pass, weeks, months, and then a year and we are still doing telehealth. Although, at first, management was sympathetic to the change, that sympathy appeared to slowly drift from their consciousness. There was this underlying feeling of, “you’ve been doing this a year now, you should know what you’re doing.” Well contrary to this assumption, therapists are silently screaming, “NO WE DON’T” and “WE ARE TIRED.” Just because we were forced into this modality and had to do it for the past year, does not mean we know how to do it or feel good about our work.
We are exhausted, drained, questioning our career choices, losing motivation; however, still expected to meet a certain productivity while keeping a smile on our faces. We can all try and hide behind those smiles, but the bags under our eyes scream we are struggling mentally, physically, and emotionally. So, what do we do? Who do we turn to? Our own therapist? Sure, we could do that, but we know all too well they are struggling themselves. We are stuck, we are tired, and we are struggling too.