Intentional Self-Care for Trauma Therapist

Published by ninakeeler on

As a trauma therapist, I know oh so well the intensity of the work we do.  It can be rewarding, but if we are not careful and intentional with our self-care it can be dangerous.

Self-care for trauma theapists is something we hear about in the field of mental health frequently and we may even get motivated to make a change after reading a blog, article, or watching a video on the topic.  Let’s be honest we may even “preach” it “religiously” to our clients, but struggle with it ourselves.  We know the benefits, but we struggle to be consistent.

I fell into these traps over and over until I decided to truly be intentional about my self-care.  Making self-care a consistent habit took intentionality and a shift in how I viewed it.

From time to time I take a self-care assessment and I also share it with anyone who will listen.  To be honest, I probably could benefit from a check in soon ( the assessment can be found here).  I like to have a gauge of where I am and what I can do to maintain and improve.  This tool helps me to have a clear direction and move forward with my plans consistently.

Being Intentional

I have used this word a couple of times now…let’s talk about what it means to me. I love the word intentional.  It is so powerful.  Wikipedia defines intentional as: “done on purpose; deliberate”.  Instead of waiting for self-care to randomly wonder into our lives we must seek it out on purpose and be deliberate about doing so.  We must find ways to frequently remind ourselves to engage in self-care.

I find that scheduling self-care in my planner each day makes the difference for me.  If I do not block out the time it won’t happen.  If you are following me on Instagram and watching my Insta Stories you have seen I am Passion Planner “believer”.  If you haven’t linked up with me yet on Instagram follow me here.  I love to connect with other trauma therapists through DMs and following them.

The second thing that works for me is having accountability in my life.  If I am really trying to change something I need people to check in on me.  My sister is the most consistent and will not let me slide with excuses, so I call her my “big guns.”   I will bring her in when I am really wanting to be intentional about something.  My husband, I love that man, but he struggles just as much as I do with self-care.  If I could bottle his work ethic up and sell it we would be rich.

The last thing that helps me be intentional is keeping my mindset right as it relates to self-care.  I stopped seeing self-care as an event.  For example, waiting two months for that vacation or waiting until the weekend for that pedicure and manicure.  I started to think about self-care in the small things and looked for opportunities to engage in self-care moment to moment.  Below are my top 10 things you can do to engage in self-care while being a therapist.

10 Small Ways To Engage In Self Care As A Trauma Therapist

Here are 10 small, yet effective, self-care activities we can do as therapists:

  1. Take a quick walk in between sessions
  2. Talk to friends and family between sessions via text, phone, video chat or social media
  3. Enjoy a healthy delicious snack
  4. Intentionally place things in your office that bring you joy, then actually enjoy those things (i.e. fresh cut flowers, inspiring artwork, photos of important people/animals in your life, etc.)
  5. Listen to a pleasant song on the way to work, on the way home or between sessions
  6. Wear a favorite article or color of clothing to work
  7. Take a nap between sessions
  8. Create boundaries with your time. Schedule clients the way that works best for you
  9. Take a moment to be mindful of (and practice) grounding activities
  10. Actually, use the bathroom in between sessions…you would be surprise at how much we put off taking care of that basic need

In Conclusion

Self-care can easily be glossed over because we hear it so much in our field, but as trauma therapists, our capacity to manage emotions directly impacts our clients and their ability to heal from trauma.  We cannot ignore the importance of ourselves and still do good work.  Please consider joining me by being intentional about your self-care and making it a moment by moment practice.

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